By Chris Robinson
Former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz was less than two weeks away from a highly-anticipated rematch with Andre Berto when the latter suffered a ruptured bicep during his training camp in Van Nuys, California on January 31st that would lead to the bout’s postponement.
The rematch has been rescheduled for June 23th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California and while it would be understandable to have expected some kind of letdown coming from Ortiz’s camp, his trainer Danny Garcia insists that it is business as usual with the fight a little over a month away.
“Training has been great,” Garcia would tell me recently as he walked into the Knuckleheadz Gym in Ventura. “We’re doing a great job. We already had the last training camp and it’s just the same thing. We’ve been in the gym for three weeks already, this is our fourth week. We’ll be good.”
Ortiz was heavily in the spotlight last September during his knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ortiz appeared to be picking up a little bit of momentum in the 4th round of the fight when he blatantly head-butted Mayweather along the ropes, an act that cost him a point from referee Joe Cortez.
Ortiz attempted to embrace Mayweather and show some remorse but he was then caught off guard with his hands down by a left-right combination from Floyd that dropped him for the ten count. It was a bizarre scene and Ortiz has been clamoring for another shot at Mayweather ever since.
A few weekends back, Mayweather returned to the ring and pulled out a decision over Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto in a gritty battle that was tougher than some expected.
“I saw the fight,” Garcia stated. “It was a good fight. Cotto did pretty good. He fought great and the fight was a little bit closer. There was a few rounds that I thought Cotto won and they gave them to Mayweather. It was a pretty good fight.”
Mayweather said after the fight that he engaged Cotto more than some might have anticipated because he felt a need to please the fans. Hearing that statement come from the 35-year old champion seemed to set off Garcia a bit.
“Well, if he wants to please the fans he needs to give us a rematch,” Garcia stated. “A lot of people want to see that fight. I still think that we can beat Mayweather.”
On the Mayweather-Cotto undercard, WBC junior middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez overcame a spirited effort from the once-great Shane Mosley, battering the former champion with crisp combinations over certain points of the fight.
Wise beyond his 21 years of age, Alvarez is one of the hottest names in the sport but Garcia isn’t exactly smitten by him.
“Canelo fought ok,” Garcia claimed. “He’s pretty young, he’s going to be a great fighter, but he needs a little bit of work. He took his time and he’s going to learn a lot more.”
When asked for his prediction on a fight between Cotto and Alvarez, a matchup that has been discussed in some circles, Garcia quickly flipped the script and started looking at the Puerto Rican charge as an opponent for his man.
“I want Victor to fight Miguel Cotto,” Garcia claimed. “Cotto has a lot of experience and he’s a good fighter still. I want Cotto because I think Victor is a lot stronger than Cotto and he’s bigger and quicker, younger. I think we can beat Cotto.”
Elaborating a bit further, it seems like Garcia is simply looking for the biggest attractions possible for the 25-year Ortiz, which is understandable.
“I know we can beat Cotto and I would also like to fight Canelo, because Canelo is a 154-pounder but Victor can go up to 154 pounds easy,” Garcia continued. “He’s big and I know we can beat Canelo, but that’s not going to happen. Canelo is 21 years of age and I don’t think they’re going to put him against Victor. We’ll fight Canelo, we’ll fight Cotto or we’ll fight Mayweather.”
Slowing his roll just a bit, Garcia realized he was getting ahead of himself and paid some respect to Ortiz’s next foe.
“We still have a big fight to go and it’s not over. Berto is a dangerous fighter and he’s good. But I think we’re not going to have any problems,” Garcia stated.
One of the biggest stories in the sport is that of Lamont Peterson and the failed drug test that was brought into light a week ago ahead of his May 19th rematch with Amir Khan. Testing positive for synthetic testosterone in the form of testosterone pellets that were injected into him, Peterson not only saw the Khan rematch cancelled but also now sees his reputation called into question.
Garcia led Ortiz into battle against Peterson in December of 2010 at the Mandalay Bay and despite dropping the Washington, D.C. fighter twice in the third round, the bout would end up being split-draw after ten heats.
Hearing of Peterson’s positive test result, Garcia still seems baffled.
“I don’t know. I heard that he was doing something illegal but I still don’t think that’s true,” said Garcia. “I don’t want to say too much but it’s hard to believe. Going against Amir Khan, why would he do that when he’s the one who requested the test?”
Asked if he saw a difference in the Peterson who fought Ortiz compared to the one who upset Khan last December, Garcia felt as though he was looking at the same man.
“No, I still remember the fight and I’ve seen it a lot of times,” Garcia claimed. “We beat Lamont Peterson pretty good. They gave us a draw but that’s how the judges saw it.”