Former world champions Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto participated in a media conference call to discuss the upcoming rematch of the 2011 Fight of the Year on Saturday, Feb. 11, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast), from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Ten months after their classic slugfest that was named 2011 “Fight of the Year” (USA Today, Ring Magazine), Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KO’s), of Ventura, Calif., and Berto (28-1, 22 KO’s), of Winter Haven, Fla., will square off again. The eagerly awaited 12-round fight is a rematch of a fiercely contested, multiple-knockdown affair on April 16, 2011, that Ortiz won by a unanimous decision (114-112, 114-111 and 115-110) while capturing Berto’s World Boxing Council (WBC) 147-pound title. Both fighters were knocked down twice in the fight, with Berto being dropped in the first, Ortiz going down a round later and each of them hitting the deck in a wild sixth round that many called the “Round of the Year” for 2011.
Here’s what the participants had to say on Wednesday’s call:
ANDRE BERTO: “We’ve already had a tremendous camp and right now we’re going through the motions every day. We’re excited about Feb. 11 and getting to Vegas for a fight of this magnitude. It’s going to be go time”.”
How important was it for you to get back in the ring and beat Jan Zaveck the way that you did?
ANDRE BERTO: “I think it was tremendously important after you go through the situations that I went through not to dwell on it for too long but to just jump back in action. And that’s what I did. I just wanted to take a little time off and put this fight together for me and I jumped right back into action.”
Did you get a lot of confidence from that?
ANDRE BERTO: “It definitely helped, but at the end of the day I know I can fight. If I had a bad night or if you have a bad day at the gym, at the end of the day you know you’re going to be able to know how to fight.”
What’s the most important thing Tony Morgan has done for your career since you started working with him?
ANDRE BERTO: “Me and Tony are pretty much like family. We started in this game together when I was like 10, 11 years old. It’s just been our dream to win a world title and to be at any type level of this fight game. He taught me a lot about loyalty, he taught me a lot about family. We had a lot of big dreams, but then again we never really thought that we’d get to this point coming from such a small town that we came from.”
How did losing the first fight of your career affect your psyche? Did it have a major affect on you?
ANDRE BERTO: “Of course. It played with my mind a bit. You get to a point where I think any fighter would be affected by that. But you just brush it off, get back on your feet and get back in there. And that’s what I did.”
Did it take another fight to build up that confidence?
ANDRE BERTO: “No. In my last fight I went in there like nothing happened. I went in there and went straight to work like nothing happened at all. At the end of the day, you like to be realistic. That loss put a lot of different things in perspective. It made me get back and work hard and made me understand what kind of team and what type of family I have around me. They were very supportive. If I’m in this boxing thing or not, I still have that love from my family and my friends. Like I said, I have that support so I’m good.”
You seemed a little bit tired in that first fight. Is that true and is that something you’ve been working on since then?
ANDRE BERTO: “Of course. I believe when we trained for that fight I don’t think we trained like we were supposed to. I believe that’s something that fighters go through. You get in a situation where you have a lot of success and you stay in your own little circle, your own little box instead of trying to look out and find the best situations for you. I think I suffer from that because after that fight I found out I was anemic and I had to really reach out to find some help with that because it got to be pretty serious. I learned I needed to take a lot better care of my body.”
Do you feel that you’re past that and you’ll be in a lot better condition for this fight?
ANDRE BERTO: “Of course. We’re working hard and having our doctors checking on me to make sure my levels are up and making sure I’m getting all my vitamins that I need to continue to push to have the best training sessions. Before, we were so old school in everything. We didn’t take vitamins or protein shakes or none of that, it was just hard work. But anybody knows that if you’re a world-class athlete you have to train and you have to take care of your body like you are a world-class athlete. And that’s something that we’re really getting into, and we’re trying to take all the right precautions now.”
You had estimated after the fight that maybe Ortiz was on some illegal substance and then you backed off. Is that something you still believe?
ANDRE BERTO: “No. Ortiz was just better that night.”
LOU DIBELLA: “That’s also not going to be an issue in this fight as both fighters agreed to drug testing and there will be drug testing on this fight and it’s not going to be an issue for anybody. Both sides have to go out there and do the right thing and both agreed to testing. I think that’s a big step to take away some of the innuendo and the problems that do exist in our sport. But all you can ask the fighters to do is say ‘Ok, I’ll be tested.’ And that’s what these two fighters have done.”
When will the drug testing start?
ANDRE BERTO: “I believe they’ve already tested me twice for this fight — urine tests and blood tests.”
How was that for you?
ANDRE BERTO: “It was different, but I went through that as an amateur so it wasn’t something completely different.”
Andre, you know that Victor had to go in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission for his actions against Floyd Mayweather. Do you see it as an issue or advantage for you?
ANDRE BERTO: “I’m not sure. I’m a clean guy when I’m in there. We just want to make sure our team watches out for any type of incidental situations.”
Are you bummed out that there is no fight at stake in this bout?
ANDRE BERTO: “Probably a little bit, but like I said, right now I’m just trying to make good fights. I’ve won two titles now and I’m just resorting back to why I fell in love with this sport, (and getting) back to the basics. This fight right here is a fight that I wanted, a fight that the people wanted. It’s going to be an exciting one and that’s the only thing that I’m worried about”
What does it say about you that you’ll take a fight of this magnitude?
ANDRE BERTO: “It says a lot about both of us. You see a kid go through a lot of success, but then again go through a lot of criticism and a lot of hate. On both sides I believe. To lose your first fight and come back and win another world title and give it up to hopefully make another exciting fight. And the same thing for Ortiz – he came off a loss against Floyd, he ended up getting knocked out, but he overcame that and came back to fight another exciting fight. It shows where we come from. It’s in my heart, it’s in my passion to just put on exciting fights. When we’re done with our careers I don’t believe we’ll have any regrets.”
Is this a better chance for you or Ortiz?
ANDRE BERTO: “I think it’s a good fight for both of us. I lost the fight and came back and won a world title. I could have gone a different route but I wanted to take this one. Ortiz lost to Mayweather. Either way you look at it, you’re putting together two young guys that love to fight and put on an exciting show.”
How have things changed since the first fight against Ortiz?
ANDRE BERTO: “A lot of things. We’re definitely a lot smarter, we definitely matured a lot more. We had a chance to put a lot of different things in perspective, not just in my boxing career but in life in general. So I think it definitely helped me for the better.”
VICTOR ORTIZ: “I’ve been working hard and keeping it positive. There are no worries in the world right about now, and Berto is certainly not one of them. At the same time I know I have to be tremendously tough for this guy, both in and out of the ring. I’m not a guy who has to sit there and run his mouth. The thing is, at the end of the day, the boxing gloves will do the talking. Apparently Berto has a chip on his shoulder. Well I have a few chips on my shoulder due to the first Berto fight – it didn’t end the way I wanted it to end – and my last fight wasn’t the greatest. So my roller coaster is re-launching right now. I want to climax. I’m nowhere near ready to pull back, not now or in the near future. It’s going to be a great fight, I will be victorious once again and I will not take no for an answer.”
When you fought Andre could you sense that he was wearing down physically in the end of the fight?
VICTOR ORTIZ: “No, not at all. It was the same Berto I trained for, actually better. The only difference – there was a beast in there with him.”
What do you need to do to match his improved strength in the ring?
VICTOR ORTIZ: “Once again it comes back that I’m the underdog. That’s the story of my life. I don’t really mind it one bit. At the same time, let’s not forget this much – I was a 140-pounder in the first fight. Now, I’m a natural 147.”
Victor, you say you’re always an underdog. Is the scrutiny fair?
VICTOR ORTIZ: “It’s the game. I’m just here. I’m just here to live another day and become one of the greatest boxers of all time. Obviously people go through their ups and downs, but I’m having fun and I’m enjoying every moment of going through my ups and downs. At the end of the day I’m just trying to be one of the greats.”
Do you like being the underdog?
“No way, man. Not one bit. That’s good though. I enjoy being that person that’s always counted out.”
Why do you think people count you out after you won the first fight?
VICTOR ORTIZ: “I don’t know. That’s my only question. At the end of the day I don’t really care what anybody believes but me. I’m ready for this guy once again.”
What is your point of view of having a fight of this caliber that isn’t a title fight?
VICTOR ORTIZ: “I don’t mind it. Given the circumstances that this guy wants to fight me, I am more than willing to give him a shot. Why not? He gave me a shot.”
What do you expect different in the ring from Berto?
VICTOR ORTIZ: “I don’t really know, but I’m preparing for the best Berto there is possible, along with my corner. If he’s gotten any better than, hey, that’s awesome. That’s what we’re expecting. We’re expecting the best Berto to be present and I’m ready.”
How’s your mental state of mind coming off a loss to Mayweather.
VICTOR ORTIZ: “I don’t think I lost. (I still) believe in myself. I still see myself as a world champion. I will never bow down to not being a world champion because it wasn’t right how it happened in my eyes. Once again, I’m counted out by Berto’s team. To me it’s perfectly fine. I don’t care. I’m going to show him why I beat him the first time.
“It’s Berto’s second chance, not mine. What do I lose? Nothing. At the end of the day it’s going to be a great fight.
For more information, visit www.goldenboypromotions.com, www.dbe1.com, www.mgmgrand.com, http://Sports.SHO.com, follow us on Twitter at @GoldenBoyBoxing, @VICIOUSOrtiz, @AndreBerto, @OscarDeLaHoya, @loudibella, @SHOsports, @mgmgrand; or become a fan on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GoldenBoyBoxing, www.facebook.com/lou.dibella or www.facebook.com/ShoBoxing.
“Berto is a good fighter, but I never saw him as great, not even when I was at 140 and I was coming up to challenge him — which is why I challenged him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a dangerous fighter but I don’t fear him. I have no respect for him, I’m not scared of him, nothing like that. At the end of the day I will win this once again.”
“Repeat or Revenge: Ortiz vs. Berto II” is the highly anticipated 12-round welterweight rematch of USA Today and Ring Magazine’s 2011 Fight of the Year between former World Champions “Vicious” Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto which will take place Saturday, Feb. 11 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The event is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and DiBella Entertainment. It will air live on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). A special three-fight undercard will air live on SHOWTIME EXTREME beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast).
Tickets, priced at $300, $150, $100 and $50, are on sale and are available at all Las Vegas Ticketmaster locations (select Smith’s Food and Drug Centers and Ritmo Latino). Ticket sales are limited to eight per person. To charge by phone with a major credit card, call Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets also are available for purchase atwww.mgmgrand.com or www.ticketmaster.com.