By Keith Idec
Victor Ortiz knew he would oppose a great fighter before his last bout.
The former WBC welterweight champion seems even more certain that he’ll face an opponent that isn’t quite great in his next fight.
“Berto’s a good fighter,” Ortiz said. “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 once again.”
Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., overcame two knockdowns during his first fight against Berto (28-1, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Fla., to earn a unanimous decision April 16 at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. Nearly 10 months after that memorable battle, in which Ortiz also floored Berto twice, they’ll go at it again Feb. 11 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Ortiz, who’ll turn 25 on Tuesday, thinks he’ll win easier this time because he is better suited to compete at welterweight than he was a year ago. His victory over the 28-year-old Berto marked Ortiz’s first fight at 147 pounds, following nearly seven years as a pro at lightweight and junior welterweight.
“Let’s not forget this much: I was a 140-pounder in the first fight,” said Ortiz, who weighed in at 146 pounds for the first Berto bout, half-a-pound more than Berto. “Now I’m a natural 147. So somebody’s in trouble.”
Oscar De La Hoya, Ortiz’s promoter, is convinced his fighter won’t allow the judges to determine the winner of this rematch, which will be televised by Showtime.
“I personally feel that [Ortiz] is going to knock out Berto,” De La Hoya said. “Obviously, we saw Berto win in his last fight [against Jan Zaveck on Sept. 3], against a world champion. But me being a student of the game, I did see Berto off-balance a lot and I think we once again will prevail.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.