By Keith Idec
ATLANTIC CITY — Andre Berto didn’t actually say Victor Ortiz quit during his infamous fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Then again, the IBF welterweight champion didn’t need to utter the “Q” word after everything else he said about Ortiz’s reaction to Mayweather’s notorious combination that ended their welterweight title fight Sept. 17 in Las Vegas.
“I was waiting for him to get up,” Berto said during a trip to promote his Feb. 11 rematch with Ortiz in Las Vegas. “That’s what I’m saying. I’m saying that either he looked up and was thinking about life and said, ‘I don’t think I want to do this,’ and just stayed down, or I don’t know.”
When asked directly if that meant he thought Ortiz could’ve continued when he got up, Berto said, “Well, he didn’t, so I can’t say.”
Promoter Lou DiBella, seated beside Berto, quickly added that Ortiz “didn’t look too unhappy when it ended.”
“That’s what I’m saying,” Berto continued. “That was the crazy thing about it. I got so many phone calls. It’s just like I’ve never in my life seen somebody so happy to get knocked out. Never. Never. They stopped the fight and he’s up smiling, hugging, kissing everybody around him. I mean, you know, walking back to the dressing room laughing, smiling. At his after-party, posing up. I’m like, ‘Dude.’ I’m going to ask him some questions when he walks in here.”
If Berto asked Ortiz about whether he could’ve continued against Mayweather, he didn’t do it publicly. Ortiz didn’t arrive to a Caesars Atlantic City meeting room for an interview session until Berto left.
When told Berto hinted that he quit against Mayweather, Ortiz smiled wide.
“See, to me that’s kind of funny,” Ortiz said. “What can you do, really? I mean, you have the judges and everybody, along with Cortez, calling the fight off. But at the same time, I’ll let DiBella and Berto stay on the past because what’s coming forward is nothing easy.”
Berto (28-1, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Fla., and Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., dropped each other twice in a captivating slugfest April 16 in Mashantucket, Conn. Ortiz’s unanimous decision win, which earned him the WBC welterweight title, helped the strong southpaw land a huge opportunity against Mayweather (42-0, 26 KOs).
When asked if he would’ve hit Ortiz when Ortiz was looking at the referee, Berto said, “Probably not.” What bothered him much more about the Mayweather-Ortiz ordeal, though, was Ortiz’s approach to trying to upset the most gifted fighter in the world.
“Floyd is a supreme boxer,” Berto said. “So why would you move around and start trying to box the guy? And Floyd was just popping shots on him, and of course, from time to time Ortiz came and tried to bring the pressure on the ropes. But like I said, it just looked like a different Ortiz in there. He just got frustrated and tried to pull the head-butt situation, and afterwards was doing a lot of hugging and kissing and got knocked out.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.