By Jake Donovan
Before he could proceed with plans for a showdown with Andre Berto in a rematch to their 2011 Fight of the Year contender, Victor Ortiz was first ordered to appear in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission panel to ensure that he will adhere to their rules.
The meeting held earlier this month was ordered based on past comments by Ortiz, stating in the media that he intentionally butted Floyd Mayweather in their Sept. ’11 pay-per-view headliner, and with the purpose of trying to break his nose. The foul came moments before Ortiz was knocked out at the end of the fourth round, as he was caught off guard after failing to realize that action resumed.
The commission issued concern over the remarks and sought assurance that he no longer plans to carry that mentality into future fights.
While all systems are go for the return go with Berto on February 11 at the MGM Grand, there are concerns in the media over whether the Californian will overthink his actions on fight night for the sake of avoiding warnings or punishment from the referee.
Ortiz put to rest such fears when broached on the subject. In fact, he insists that nothing at all about him will change and plans to approach this fight just like any other.
“That’s what the reporters are there for and everyone in the media – to think about things like that,” Ortiz (29-3-2, 22KO) insisted during a conference call to promote the bout, which airs live on Showtime. “Me on the other hand, I’m only here to think about one (thing) and that’s beating Berto.”
Ortiz’ last win came last April against Berto, twice climbing off of the canvas to score two knockdowns of his own to take a well-deserved unanimous decision. The fight was praised for its sheer brutality and frequent momentum shifts, and in the end recognized as Ortiz’ career-defining win to date.
Never before had Berto (28-1, 22KO) claimed any wrongdoing on Ortiz’ part, save for a brief Twitter “scandal” in which the Haitian-American suggested that his opponent seemed abnormally strong that evening. Random drug testing is in place for both fighters for this fight, not specifically due to Berto’s comments but in continued efforts to ensure that the sport’s top athletes are clean.
With the commission hearing should produce a foul-free fight next month, or at least one that doesn’t boast anything of the intentional variety. Such was never really Berto’s concern, though he does take note of Ortiz’ past incidents.
“It’s just something that handicaps you if you’re a dirty fighter. If you know you’re not, you should be just fine,” states Berto, who rebounded from the lone loss of his career with a fifth-round stoppage win over Jan Zaveck last September. “He’s been disqualified in the past. Even in our fight he was hitting me behind the head, and that situation with Floyd. I just hope he stays clean in our fight.”
Ortiz and his handlers insist there will be nothing to worry about, and also clarify what exactly took place during the meeting earlier this month.
“What the Nevada State Athletic Commission said is not to behave because you’re in there to beat the shit out of each other. What they said was to follow our rules,” explains Rolando Arrellano, Ortiz’ manager. “If you go in there and think it’s going to be a handicap, then guess what it is – a handicap.
“We changed the belief. It’s not a handicap, in fact it’s motivation and an incentive, to go in there and fight cleanly, clearly and convincingly – and from there comes the knockout.”
As far as Ortiz is concerned, it will be just another night in the office and that it’s high time everyone in the industry accepts him for the top fighter that has proven to be in recent years.
“I am me. If you don’t like it, change the channel.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]