By Chris Robinson
Yesterday I caught up with former champion Victor Ortiz moments before his workout inside of the Knuckleheadz Gym in Ventura, California.
Ortiz is eyeing a February 11th date with Andre Berto at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada in what is serving as a rematch to one of 2011’s finest fights. The two prizefighters met this past April and traded a pair of knockdowns within the first six rounds but it was Ortiz who was a little busier and more aggressive on the inside as he pulled out a unanimous decision.
Ortiz followed that performance up by landing his biggest fight to date, a September 17th showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr., and saw his name thrust into the spotlight. Ortiz would end up losing the contest by a 4th round knockout, however, and realizes his back is again up against the wall as another dance with Berto nears.
“I’ve been working hard. I’ve been doing exactly what the coaches want me to do,” Ortiz said as he gave a glimpse into his latest camp. “I’ve been executing every plan as planned. I don’t talk to the coaches or talk back to them. What’s said to me is done. I just keep pushing forward and keep pushing a little harder than the day before. As far as being ready, that’s not even a question in my mind. As far as getting past Berto, that’s definitely not a question I got to worry about.”
Asked what realizations he has discovered about himself after the rollercoaster ride he’s been on, Ortiz points to a lack of respect from fans and the media,
“I’ve learned that I’ve been counted out for too long, by everyone,” he continued. “Once again, I’m an underdog once again. I don’t mind it one bit. It’s the story of my life. As far as that goes, I’m ready.”
The next question was then tweaked a bit as I pressed Ortiz for what he has learned about Berto as a fighter and person since their first encounter.
Ortiz didn’t hesitate when giving an answer, pointing to Berto’s June 1st antics that saw the Haitian-American take to his personal Twitter account and hint that Ortiz had been under the use of performance-enhancing drugs in their first contest.
That deed alone has seemed to place a chip on Victor’s shoulder.
“He sat there and accused me of certain things that I won’t even get into. I can just say that he spoke the truth about himself, just using me as a face,” Ortiz continued. “He threw curveballs this way for no reason. He’s trying to convince himself that he never arrived that night. The world knows he did. Everyone who knows boxing knows Berto was on his game that night.”
Though our conversation was brief, it was easy to get a feel for where Ortiz is at in his life, relishing the role that he perceives as the underdog yet again.
So vested is he into the rematch that Ortiz didn’t bother to even bring up anything negative towards Mayweather, whose victory in September saw him catch his foe unsuspectingly with a left-right combination that all but ended the fight moments after referee Joe Cortez had taken a point away from Ortiz for a flagrant head butt along the ropes in the fourth round.
It was one of the stranger scenes inside of a boxing ring in recent memory but it’s also something that Ortiz is paying no attention to.
“I’m not here to talk about Floyd,” he continued. “I’m here to talk about my fight coming up. The past is the past. It’s all over the media.”