By: Michael Gerard Seiler
"Vicious" Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KO's) defeated Andre Berto (27-1, 21 KO's) by a twelve-round unanimous decision, capturing the WBC welterweight title in what could become the 'Fight of the Year' for 2011. Official scores were 115-110, 114-112 and 114-111.
Entering the bout, both fighters were heavily questioned by the media about their overall star-potential in the sport. After quitting against Marcos Maidana in 2009, Ortiz was believed to lack the heart and courage of a true fighter. On the other hand, there were questions about Berto's chin: Could he take a solid punch? Ortiz and Berto answered and silenced their critics at Foxwoods tonight, letting everything they had deep inside of them come out in the ring.
During round one, it appeared that Ortiz floored Berto with a grazing left-hand shot that landed just behind the Miami native's right ear. However, referee Mike Ortega incorrectly ruled it a slip. Even if a fighter slips, such as Berto did according to Ortega, if a punch lands on a fighter that is falling, the correct ruling would be a knockdown. In this case, Ortiz' punch caused Berto to fall. Moments later, Ortiz would get an official knockdown scored.
Ortiz staggered Berto with a powerful right hook, and followed it up with a straight left - right uppercut combination, dropping Berto to one knee in the corner. After that, Berto was not quite the same fighter; He never fully recovered, displaying shaky legs numerous times throughout the course of the fight.
In round two, Berto answered back, firing and connecting with a counter-right cross, flooring Ortiz. Yet, Ortiz, 24, was not really hurt, as his right glove prevented his back from touching the canvas as he fell. Ortiz regained his composure, holding his own the last twenty seconds of the round. Before the knockdown, Ortiz was beating Berto to the punch and controlling the round, as the 27-year-old's legs looked wobbly.
Ortiz rocked Berto during round three with consecutive straight lefts in the second half of the round. Early on, Ortiz stunned Berto with a devastating left uppercut.
Berto opened round four by precisely landing a flush right cross to Ortiz' chin. Once again, Ortiz came right back, connecting with consecutive left-hand shots to Berto's head. Then, Ortiz pummeled Berto, leaving him with a bloody nose in his corner after the round.
After a close, competitive fifth round, Berto put Ortiz on the canvas with a crushing right cross. Ortiz' legs were unsteady, but Berto could not finish him. Next, a right hook and consecutive lefts to the head by Ortiz floored Berto, just before the bell rang to end the round.
From there, Ortiz beat up Berto in close quarters, fearlessly unleashing combinations and charging after him.
In round ten, Ortiz was deducted a point from referee Mike Ortega for hitting behind the head. Ortiz absorbed Berto's punches, and kept throwing more, showing a higher energy level.
After his back was pressed up against the ropes in round eleven, Berto looked as if he wished the fight was over. He was gassed from the relentless pressure applied by Ortiz.
Entering the twelfth round, Ortiz was not content to coast in the final three minutes; He only knew one way to finish - Go straight ahead and continue throwing punches until there is nothing left.
The courage, heart, and desire to win exhibited from both Ortiz and Berto was immeasurable. Still, Ortiz was simply the more complete fighter, proving the odds of being a 4-1 underdog were vastly inaccurate. While Berto hurt Ortiz at times, Ortiz landed harder and with greater accuracy.
Not to take away from Ortiz' victory, or to discredit Berto's performance in anyway, but Berto has been over-hyped by some in the media for a very long time. Berto has always shown trouble fighting in close quarters against elite fighters, usually electing to clinch after throwing power shots one-at-a-time. Berto has above average hand speed and efficient power, although he can be off-balance often with his enormously wide stance.
Did Berto underestimate Ortiz coming into the fight? Perhaps, but a fighter who knows how to fight on the inside with so much ferocity, as well as utilizing effective combination punching, such as Ortiz, will always give a one-dimensional fighter like Berto a great deal of trouble. If someone is going to defeat Ortiz again, it surely will not happen if that fighter only relies on his speed, agility and reflexes; One will need to have the complete package, and an added something that many critics thought Ortiz lacked - a ton of heart.