Take Two: Berto's Anguish, Ortiz's Shining Night

Andre Berto's first loss wasn't just an off night. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Tonight I re-watched the Andre Berto-Victor Ortiz fight. It's something I generally do when a fight is worth watching again, or when there's something to learn. This had both. For the most part, watching and scoring live, while covering the fights here in round-by-round detail, I don't particularly miss many things, but I don't have the time to sit back and appreciate everything.

Last Saturday night's battle between "Vicious" Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto, on second viewing, is just as rewarding as it was the first time. Let's discuss a few key things.

First off, Andre Berto was a tough cat to hang in there for 12 full rounds, considering he never really got over the first round knockdown -- and what should have been counted as two first round knockdowns. Berto deserves respect for hanging in. At the same time, he accomplished that because he did very little for large stretches of the fight. The third and fourth rounds he was flat blown out. While Ortiz worked and landed, even without much by way of eye-popping punches (there were a couple), Berto laid on the ropes and waited, and waited, and waited. He tried to catch his breath. He tried to get his legs back. He never really accomplished either.

As the fight wore on, Berto's questionable gas tank really became apparent. While Ortiz finished the fight strong, Berto wilted, even as the pressure against him started to subside a fair amount.

Why? Berto always looks in marvelous condition. It wasn't, in my opinion, simply getting rattled early that left him a bit lame for the rest of the fight. He was gassed out in there. Is it as simple as he needs to step up his cardio? Was this a new development? Andre's never really had to fight hard as a pro, except against Luis Collazo, and no offense to Collazo but he wasn't threatening to knock Berto out, really, just beat him. Ortiz had the power to end the night early.

Berto's corner was a jumbled mess. We've discussed this, but it's just so strange for a top-level fighter to have a corner panicking that hard. In all fairness, I don't blame lead trainer Tony Morgan, other than to say that Morgan needed to take control of the corner. Berto's attention was flying all over the place as worried team members kept interrupting, talking over, and distracting Morgan, whose advice was generally sound. And Morgan was pretty calm. Berto's brother was particularly troubling. There's no doubt he meant well, but what good is it to distract the fighter with one-liners like, "It's now or never! It's now or never!" in the fifth round? What about "Be an assassin!"

The sixth round, where Berto came out hard and fast and scored a good knockdown of Ortiz, was Andre's last stand in the fight. When Ortiz floored him in return late in the round, that was it. Berto from that point on seems to lose his will -- seems to lose the belief that he can win. He's tired, he's frustrated, and he can't one-up Victor Ortiz.

Most accurately, Berto survived the fight.

From Ortiz's side, he's just as impressive on replay as he was live. He's a huge welterweight, coming into the ring at 161 pounds. He doesn't have the greatest chin in the world, and he leaves himself open too often for counter shots. He's going to get hit, he's going to get knocked down, but he outslugged a legitimate fighter in a step up to 147 pounds, where it appears he has belonged for a while now. He looked healthier, stronger, and more comfortable. He looked like a guy who just found his proper weight.

While the fight wasn't a blowout, it was clearly Victor Ortiz's fight from the first round until the finish. Berto was effective only in spurts, and most of those seemed to be desperation borne from confusion and a lack of preparation. He is a good fighter. He can come back from this. But it wasn't just an off-night. There are things that have to be changed if he's going to be a long-term player. Without adjustments, any fight against someone like Victor Ortiz or anyone who can bang with Berto is going to be an uphill battle.

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