By Michael Marley
You think boxing can be a tension convention only in the dressing rooms and in the corners on fight night?
Actually, there's a lot of angst to go around whenever a big fight is in the works and an example of same was exhibited Wednesday at a presser to hype WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto's April 16 MGM Grand at Foxwoods title defense against No. 5 contender, Vicious Victor Ortiz.
Ortiz manager Rolando Arrellano was all nerved up which is odd since he was a Ferocious Fernando Vargas handler for a long time so it's not his first rodeo, as we say.
Not once but four times while speaking at The Palm podium Arrellano looked at Berto and referred to him nervously as "Andre Ward."
Of course, the super middleweight king is 30 pounds heavier than the two skilled welterweights.
Berto appeared to be trying to get into Ortiz's head by making reference to the Oxnard, California, fighter's travails in the ring against Marcos Maidana.
Berto denied the head jab.
"This is nothing to play with and, if you're not ready, it can bite you in the ass," the undefeated Florida fighter said. "I wanted to remind him how hard this game can be and, while he's stepping up to the plate, I know how I handled adversity. He handled adversity differently, meaning he quit. I'm a whole different breed of fighter, I hit harder, I am faster and I am smarter than Marcos Maidana."
To his credit, Ortiz answered his many critics who have questioned his valor.
"I feel like, sometimes...like a piece of gum on the bottom of somebody's shoes," Ortiz said. "I am glad to know that.
"Andre Berto is no joke, he is champ for a reason. But, on April 16, I will change that.
"I'm tired of it all, (saying) I have no heart, no balls...well the list goes on. But I'm not scared of anything and I'm bringing the belt home."
If nothing else, Vicious Victor is viciously honest. I tried hard not to like him, based on hearsay, but he is likely the most self-honest fighter extant.
You can't blame a young man for leading with his heart.