By Lem Satterfield
BoxingScene.com caught up to former WBC welterweight titlist Andre Berto, who has just returned from an 18-day vacation that covered trips to the Indonesia and the Philippines.
Berto, according to a source, was well-received by admirers on the Philippine Island of Boracay.
The 27-year-old Berto (27-1, 21 knockouts) is coming off of April's unanimous decision loss to Victor Ortiz (29-2-2, 22 KOs) that featured Berto being down in the first round, Ortiz being floored in the second, and both fighters having to rise from the canvas in the sixth.
Berto was coming off of November's first-round knockout of Freddy Hernandez (29-2, 20 KOs), of Mexico City, whose winning streak of 12 straight fights, including six knockouts, was ended as Hernandez was stopped for the first time and lost for the first time since losing a split-decision to Golden Johnson in February of 2005.
In April of 2010, Berto scored an eighth-round knockout of southpaw former world champion, Carlos Quintana (27-3, 21 KOs), who, at the time, had been the only man to have beaten southpaw three-time titlist, Paul Williams (39-2, 27 KOs).
The 24-year-old Ortiz was coming off of a 10-round, majority draw opposite the 27-year-old Lamont Peterson (28-1-1, 14 KOs), whom Ortiz floored twice in the third round. Peterson was, nevertheless, awarded the victory, 95-93, on the card of one judge, while the other two scored the fight as a 94-94 draw with Ortiz.
Ortiz is 4-0-1, with three knockouts since being stopped by in the sixth round in June of 2009 by WBA interim titlist Marcos Rene Maidana (29-2, 27 KOs) of Argentina, who was dropped three times during a bout in which Ortiz hit the canvas twice.
Berto, who was out of the country from May 13-through-May 31, spoke to BoxingScene.com about the fight, his future and what he qualifies as the public's perception that he has accused Ortiz of having been under the influence of performance enhancing drugs during their clash.
BoxingScene.com: So how have you been?
Andre Berto: Just trying to get back into the groove with things. I'm just getting back into the country. I'm trying to soak in all of this boxing and getting back intot the groove.
I just had to get away from everything and just clear my mind and cleare my thoughts about everything, you know, about different things and to get back into focus and to get back to where I need to be.
I just get a lot of criticism anyway when it comes to me trying to be successful and to stay undefeated. With me losing my first fight, I've just been getting criticism all the way around, regardless.
A lot of people don't know that I'm my biggest critic, you know what I mean? So I'm just, you know, very disappointed in my performance and the fact that I didn't really show up the way that I normally do.
For this fight, I'm just disappointed with a lot of different things, so I just wanted to take some time off. I think that a lot of fighters and a lot of people, they get caught up in a lot of different things.
They don't really just take their time and get away and take some time for themselves to reflect. That was something that I needed to do and it was much needed and overdue. I definitely took that time to do that.
I went to one area with my brother and just some family, and then I went to Indonesia by myself. So I was gone for a few weeks.
BoxingScene.com: How many times have you watched the video of the fight?
AB: You know, that's the thing with me. It just felt like it wasn't me in there, man. I just know that it wasn't me in there. I haven't really watched the fight. I've probably seen bits and pieces of it.
Probably a few days after the fight. I haven't really even sat down and watched it. It would be different if I fought to the best of my ability and I was on point every way around and I felt good about my performance.
I would be able to pick some things out. But I just didn't perform, and Victor came to fight, and he came to perform, and he was the better man. So, I really didn't have a chance to watch the fight.
BoxingScene.com: How do you think that your corner performed in the fight?
AB: You know, I think that it was pretty much a reality check for all of us. You know, everybody around me and my corner and my close people, they know what I'm supposed to do.
They know how I've performed in the gym and in the training camp. But then again they know that the day before, you know, something was wrong in there. I wasn't my normal self and it showed in the fight.
But they panicked as well in the corner, because, you know, they've seen me handle things a lot better. But like I said, there really aren't any excuses about anything.
Sometimes people make excuses, but people don't want to hear excuses. They know that I've got my first 'L,' and I just have to come back stronger. That's it.
BoxingScene.com: What are your thoughts on the fact that the HBO commentators credited you for fighting what was basically a brawl, and did you think that maybe you should have boxed more?
AB: [Laughs.] You know what? The thing is, a lot of people don't even know that I go through a lot of the things that I go through just trying to be the best that I can be and coming from where I come from.
You know, it's just been kind of tough for me to deal with to a point, just getting the cricism that I was getting for winning fights, and I just didn't understand why.
And then it got to a point where, when were in the fighters' meeting, before the Victor Ortiz fight, me and Larry Merchant were going back and forth.
Because he was basically upset that I'm not getting into these brawls. In my last fight before Ortiz, I knocked the guy out in the first round.
I've won other fights by knockout, but I guess that he just wanted to see me in these brawls. And I'm looking at him, and I'm like, 'Why would you want me to go into these types of fights?'
I'm like, 'I understand that you're a fan of the game, and that you're a commentator and you've been around for a long time.' But I'm like, 'If you understand the game, it's hit and not get hit.'
You try to go in there and handle your business and try to get out of the ring like, unharmed if possible. I'm like, 'Why do you want me to just go in there and stand in there and risk getting my head beat in?'
You know, I didn't understand that at all. But I think that I just let everything kind of get to me, because I was at a point where I'm trying to fulfill my dream and trying to be the best that I can be.
I was trying to be a good world champion, but I wound up having to defend the fact that I had this belt as much as defending it inside the ring. Everything just kind of played a part.
I know that I'm not supposed to let a lot of things get to you, but you know, that fight, it really did. But like I said, you live and you learn, and you can't let a lot of things get to you. You've got to be stronger in situations.
BoxingScene.com: Are you saying that you would fight differently knowing what you know now?
AB: You know what I think? Of course, this fight game, I understand that it's physical, but it's 80 to 90 percent mental.
If would have gone in to this fight in a better state of mind, and not listened to the criticism and just been me, then it definitely would have been a different fight.
It was still a close fight, but like I said, I wasn't at my top. But Victor prepared the way that he was supposed to prepare, and he came out the champion, and I congratulate him for that.
I believe that I got put in this place for a reason, and that's for me to understand. Now, it's getting exciting for me now. People aren't just looking at me and saying, 'This is just another fight that he's supposed to win.'
Now, they're waiting to see the comeback and waiting to see what's going to happen. They've been waiting to see some adversity, and now, they're waiting to see how I come back from this.
BoxingScene.com: Having been mentioned as a potential opponent for Manny Pacquiao prior to the loss, do you feel you've done some significant damage to yourself with this loss?
AB: At the end of the day it was an exciting fight and a candidate for the Fight of the Year. So, you know, everybody knows what I can do and that at the end of the day, I'm still going to go in there and fight my ass off, regardless.
What a lot of people need to understand is that you're as good as your last fight. You can lose one fight and look sh*tty one fight, but you can come back and look fabulous.
That's the only thing that people are worried about, and they will put you back into the races, automatically. So I think that I just need to show my mettle. This is where I prove my point.
Winning is great, but when you come back from a loss, you show people what you're really made of. You show that you can handle that adversity and come back strong, then that's what people respect. So we're going to see what happens.
I'm not sure who is going to be next. But no matter who it is, I know that the team has been working to get me back in there as soon as possible. I'm just so focused and excited just to get back in there, no matter who it is.