Ortiz, Berto aim to recapture career momentum in rematch

If the rematch comes close to the quality of the first fight between welterweights Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto, boxing fans will be in for a treat Feb. 11 at the MGM Grand Garden.

The first meeting is receiving serious consideration for 2011 Fight of the Year. On April 16 in Connecticut, Ortiz took Berto’s WBC title with a 12-round unanimous decision in a fight in which both fighters were knocked down.

The rematch, co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and DiBella Entertainment, will air on Showtime.

“I am looking forward to this fight. It’s a fight I want, and it’s a fight the people demanded,” Berto said Monday at the fighters’ appearance in Los Angeles. “These are the types of fights that make boxing so great. I am so hyped and excited to get ready to make another classic.”

Berto (28-1, 22 knockouts) rebounded from the loss to Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KOs) by beating Jan Zaveck for the IBF title on Sept. 3. Berto vacated that title to gain a rematch with Ortiz.

Ortiz didn’t get to keep the WBC title for long, losing it to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Sept. 17 at the Grand Garden in a fight that came to a bizarre conclusion.

Ortiz deliberately head-butted Mayweather early in the fourth round, prompting a point deduction by referee Joe Cortez. Ortiz repeatedly tried to apologize to Mayweather and was doing so again when the fight resumed. With Ortiz’s hands at his sides, Mayweather decked him and knocked him out.

It was a painful lesson for Ortiz, who must again prove he deserves to be regarded among the welterweight elite.

“I captured the world championship and went for the best,” Ortiz said. “I’m being counted out once again. Once again, not the best of the best. Once again, I’m too nice.

“You know what, I’ll show you Feb. 11 why Andre Berto belongs where he’s at and why I’ve made him belong there. I’ll leave everything in the ring and bring home the victory once again. I don’t need to say anything more than that.”

Berto was dominating early in the first meeting, but he appeared to be a changed fighter after Ortiz knocked him down during a spectacular sixth round when both fighters went to the canvas.

Berto said he’s eager for redemption.

“I’m ready to get it on,” he said. “I’ve had to improve my game. I’ve had a hard, tough training camp and just have to stay focused and get the job done. I’m hungrier than ever.”

In advance of the fight, Ortiz and Berto will be featured on “Fight Camp 360,” Showtime’s boxing reality series.

Both fighters have agreed to Olympic-style drug testing, which will be administered by the Volunteer Anti-Doping Association and include random blood and urine tests.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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