Andre Berto had to wait five years, but he got a measure of revenge tonight, stopping Victor Ortiz in the fourth round of their rematch in the PBC on FOX main event from the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Berto (31-4, 24 KO) was outboxed in the first two rounds by Ortiz (31-6-2, 24 KO), who came out looking sharp, calm, and confident in his approach, light on his feet and moving nicely. In the first round, with about 40 seconds left, the fighters clashed heads, opening a cut on Ortiz's hairline that produced a pretty significant amount of blood, though it would not be an issue for him going forward.
Ortiz employed a nice jab to the body, using that to set up shots up top, and was in full control in the second round, when he dropped Berto with a left hand that was thrown off the wrong foot, a pushing sort of shot that caught Berto off balance and unaware. It was a flash knockdown, but a confidence booster for Ortiz.
The third round was a bit better for Berto, who seemed to loosen up a bit after the knockdown, and he was able to find his range a little, though Ortiz probably won that round, and did take it on our card. Early in the fourth, though, Berto launched a right uppercut that dropped Ortiz hard. It was a familiar spot for Ortiz, as he had looked good but found himself on the canvas and facing adversity once more, just as we've seen in many of his other fights.
When one looks back to their first meeting in 2011, Ortiz's performance that night was an outlier. That night, he battled through adversity, and lived up to his promise. But that was, in many respects, the only night he's done so. Tonight, he crumbled once more, as Berto rushed to close the fight out, and dropped Ortiz again moments later.
Referee Jack Reiss got to a count of about nine and a half, and gave Ortiz a chance to keep himself in the fight. "Do you want to continue?" the referee asked. Ortiz stared blankly. Reiss stopped the fight.
"This was a fight that was looming, like, in my soul for the last five years," Berto said after the fight, "because he did give me my first loss. It just continued to carry with me for a little bit. To this day, this is my most satisfying win. Not just me as a fighter, but me as a man."
The win keeps Berto relevant in the crowded 147-pound division, and could even potentially lead to another world title fight, possibly with WBC titleholder Danny "Swift" Garcia, who served as a commentator on tonight's show. Ortiz, though he's still only 29 years old, may be done.
"It's one of those punches I didn't see coming. He caught me with an uppercut, I never saw it coming. He's not a guy who hits soft, you know?" Ortiz said. "He's one heck of a champ for a reason."
When asked where he'd go next, Ortiz replied, "As of right now, I haven't had a vacation or anything, but I'm gonna take some time off. I'm gonna be back, man."
If Ortiz does continue, he'll surely find some way back into a meaningful fight, but anyone who's paid attention to his career over the last seven years and counting can be pretty sure of what will happen going forward.