Victor Ortiz' toughness, genuineness and everything else had rightly been the subject of brutal examination after he quit against Marcos Maidana two years ago, but he shook off the shame of that fight by decisioning Andre Berto in a move up to welterweight on HBO in a display of naked determination, stamina and punching power.
Orlando Salido, one of those tough contenders who couldn't seem to get a win over an elite opponent despite repeatedly throwing scares into them, finally broke through against Juan Manuel Lopez on Showtime by scoring an 8th round stoppage against a featherweight foe who arguably was one of the 10 best boxers in the world.
And as if that wasn't enough, there was controversy in abundance Saturday, with referees the instigators in two of Saturday's four televised fights on the premier boxing networks. Those referees were just about the only people who didn't cover themselves in glory, because even the losers of the main events emerged deserving some considerable measure of admiration. Both main events were sensational, producing Fight of the Year-style bouts and one surefire Round of the Year candidate.
VICTOR ORTIZ-ANDRE BERTO
There were four knockdowns in this fight (five depending on your point of view about whether Berto suffered another that was the result of either a trip or punch), distributed evenly. They came in pairs: In the 1st round, Ortiz did the damage with a left hand and a flurry that forced Berto to take a knee, and Berto returned the favor in the 2nd with his right that produced a flash knockdown. Berto very well might have never fully recovered from the first knockdown. The next three rounds belonged entirely to Ortiz, as he pounded a weary-looking Berto along the ropes.
But just when it would've been wise to abandon all hope for Berto, he roared back in the 6th with a right that badly hurt Ortiz. Eager to finish the job, Berto chased his wobbly opponent around the ring and got caught and dropped with another left for his troubles at the end of the round.
Berto would show flashes of life in a couple rounds thereafter -- I gave him the 8th and 9th -- with slick boxing, and Ortiz lost a point in the 10th for hitting behind the head. But for all the grit he showed by recovering in spots, Ortiz was simply that much more determined. He got a unanimous decision, with one judge seeing it fairly wide and the other two seeing it very close.
Right after Ortiz lost to Maidana and gave that bizarre interview where he wondered aloud whether he should be boxing for a living, I cautioned that people shouldn't immediately assume Ortiz was through. When consensus Prospects of the Year lose in shocking upsets, they often bounce back -- you don't usually get to that level of acclaim without having some kind of steel reinforcing your resolve. But as he meandered back toward tough opposition in a cautious rebuild job, I began to question whether Ortiz' circuitry had become permanently fried, with his last fight, a draw against Lamont Peterson, making me particularly inquisitive. He was caught between boxer and slugger, a power puncher who couldn't figure out when to take risks, when not to and whether he even wanted to anymore.
There was never a moment in this fight where Ortiz exhibited any of this kind of central malfunction. The only moment he shied from contact was a wise one, as he tried to recover from being badly hurt by Berto in a 6th round that will be hard to beat for Round of the Year. Otherwise, he kept after Berto with wide-eyed focus, and he couldn't be dissuaded by anything Berto did in return. While a move up to welterweight appeared to benefit his ability to take a shot, Berto is a fairly heavy hitter. This was the redemption of Ortiz, writ large.
Berto got his own taste of redemption, even in loss. An HBO favorite out of whack with his accomplishments, Berto has become one of the most unpopular fighters with hardcore fans. Early on in the fight Saturday, critics on Twitter saw Berto's troubles as evidence that a diet of weak opponents on HBO had left him ill-prepared for this caliber of opponent (as if Ortiz was some kind of outsized killer coming in, reputationally speaking). How, then, do you explain his surges back to competitiveness? And if a boxer meets and overcomes trouble -- as Berto did against Cosme Rivera and Luis Collazo -- isn't that the exact kind of preparation he needs when he next meets it? Berto's stamina wasn't up to snuff against Ortiz' motor, and I suspect he might have taken Ortiz for granted in training camp. But he was in an exciting fight where he proved (if he hadn't already) that he's made of stern stuff. Aren't those crucial ingredients in what we are supposed to want in a prizefighter?
I'll happily watch the next two fights of these men because of what they did Saturday against one another. (Although maybe this now gets Berto a long overdue pay cut from HBO.) Perhaps Ortiz, with this victory, got himself in the sweepstakes for Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, with Mayweather on hand ringside. HBO's Manny Steward even presented the possiblity that Ortiz would be competitive against them. Let's not get carried away. But at no point since the loss to Maidana could you call Ortiz a worthy opponent for one of the two best boxers in the world. You can now.
ORLANDO SALIDO-JUAN MANUEL LOPEZ
Here's where some of the controversial refereeing comes into play. When referee Roberto Ramirez stepped in to halt the fight, Lopez was no doubt hurt. But he was also punching back and dodging punches, a couple standards most referees use to decide whether to let a hurt fighter continue. I hate criticizing referee stoppages because I'd rather referees not be afraid to stop a fight when it's necessary for fear of taking a beating in the court of public opinion. But this wasn't a good stoppage by any standard, and Lopez deserved a chance to keep going as long as he was punching back and defending himself and wasn't taking inordinate damage.
Salido, to his credit, put Lopez in that tenuous position. I had them swapping rounds through four, with Lopez fighting a bit more cautiously than we're used to and Salido working hard to keep things competitive. In the 5th, he landed a left hook that froze Lopez' head in midair, then dropped a heavy overhand right that put Lopez down hard. It was as badly hurt as we've seen Lopez in a while -- he gets decked regularly, but only the late Rogers Mtagwa assault topped this in Lopez' career.
Somehow, midway through the 6th, Lopez shook it off and began to work his way back into the fight. He even took the 7th. Remarkable stuff, really, from one of boxing's most dramatic warriors. Salido seemed tired -- he might have punched himself out some by trying to finish the show in the 6th. But he came back to life in the 8th, landing a combination that backed Juanma against the ropes and ending the sequence with the referee calling things off.
Salido's toughness finally paid off for him in the win of his career. He was the #4-ranked featherweight, but many believed, based on his track record, that he was not in league with the men above him. Whatever the circumstances under which Lopez entered the ring and how the fight ended, Salido ability to take a punch and his relentlessness are like a metronome, and what it took for him to get this breakthrough win was to keep doing his thing and hope that he gets the right guy on the wrong night. He earned this win, no matter the asterisk of the premature stoppage.
Reports of Lopez gaining ample pounds between fights and an ongoing divorce can't have helped Lopez here. Nor can technique that has deteriorated greatly since he first burst onto the scene against Daniel Ponce De Leon. In that fight, Lopez' crisper, straighter punches undid the crude Mexican, as Lopez punched between De Leon's wide blows. Saturday, the awkward Mexican punched between Lopez' wide blows. Lopez is going to be fun no matter what, but if he wants to be fun and excellent, he needs to straighten more than a few things out.
It's not clear where either man goes next. Maybe a rematch? I can't help but wonder whether a fight like this -- where Lopez loses to an opponent that was perceived as dangerous but that few picked to win -- doesn't damage the Lopez-Yuriorkis Gamboa significantly. There are two schools on this fight: Top Rank was wise to build this fight up slowly (the position of Top Rank and others); and that with two vulnerable, explosive fighters who weren't going to get much bigger fighting separately, sooner is better (my position and that of others). I'm not going to claim any kind of victory with this. Maybe if Lopez comes back and avenges his loss to Salido, Lopez-Gamboa gets back on the slow track. But this was, at minimum, a bump in the road, albeit an exciting and unexpected one.
On the undercards:
- Junior welterweight Amir Khan got an easy technical decision win over Paul McCloskey on HBO, although the bout was marred by the referee stopping the fight in the 6th on a head butt-produced cut that wasn't the worst in the world. Khan was sloppier than usual -- reaching, out of balance, wide with his punches. Maybe it was nerves, maybe it was McCloskey's unorthodox southpaw style. It wasn't the kind of showcase Khan wanted in his return to the U.K., but he won and now he moves on. Khan wants Timothy Bradley next. So do I. It might not be a pretty fight, but it would produce a lineal, Ring Magazine champion at 140 pounds and both men are pound-for-pound talents.
- On Showtime junior lightweight prospect Luis Cruz offered some bona fides for himself as a real contender in the near future against minor TQBR favorite Martin Honorio, who gave Cruz a rough fight (isn't that what he always does?) but got outboxed by a superior, counter-punching technician who was able to match him somewhat in the toughness department. Cruz wasn't busy enough in the fight and it was close on one of the cards -- on the other side of the spectrum, the 100-90 decision was pure home cooking, plain and simple -- but before I wouldn't have known what to think of his chances against Puerto Rican rival Rocky Martinez, his original opponent for Saturday before Honorio stepped in as a late replacement. Now, I like those chances very much.
I don't like to bag on other boxing sites, but Derek Bonnett at maxboxing.com compared Berto-Ortiz to Gatti-Ward I:
Seriously? Come on. Have the standards of action fights fallen this low?
Antillon-Soto was far more of a dramatic banger last year, and I don't recall anyone comparing that to Gatti-Ward I.
Ortiz redeemed himself. There will be no more questions about his will or toughness.
I think Merchant and Steward were right: Maybe Ortiz should have fought at 147 instead of 140 all along.
Berto was exposed. He has so many flaws, starting with his corner. Berto was behind, and his corner only told him he needed to box. Ridiculous.
Berto also throws no body punches, and that must be taught in the gym. He also is much too square and spreads his feet instead of bending his knees or bending at the waist to slip punches. It doesn't let him sit down and load up counter-punches.
Fun fight, though, especially the sixth round! That's the leader of the pack for Round of the Year so far, but this fight fizzled in the second half after a scintillating start. I'll be surprised if it stands up as a Fight of the Year candidate.
Im not surprised by the upset of Juan Manuel Lopez by Orlando Salido, he got a crystal chin, our very own inexperienced Bernabe Concepcion of the Philippines, almost took him out in the 1st round, Salido, masterfully took advantaged of that weakness, and it pay dividends.
Anyone wearing brown shag pile shorts deserves to lose. What the hell Juanma it looks like they skinned a buffalo to make those things. Plus it has to be like two degrees hotter in those things no wonder he was sluggish. Bob Arum reckons he was 180-190 pounds starting camp. On a 5-7 ish dude that is just plain fat.
In contrast to Victor/Berto, no one ever will question Juanma's warrior spriit. Him staggering back to his corner completely out on his feet after round 11 of Mtagwa, (yet then somehow staying upright in Round 12) is one of those stunning yet inspiring images the sport provides that will be permanently etched in my mind. And for all the lamenting about the Gamboa fight that never got off, I do think he has achieved far more in his career to date, against a better level of competition, than either of those two. So his upset really for me is the story of the night.
But after his carreer built to the crescendo that was his virtuoso performance against Penalosa, his performances (and perhaps his skills and even his power as he moved up) have unquestionably regressed. And the last year and a half of living dangerously finally looks to have caught up to him.
Bottom line: he couldn't outslug Salido and finally got "point of no return" hurt in one of those exchanges. You knew it was coming. Heck, judging from his body language, you got the sense that even Juanma and his corner knew that day was coming. And while I do think the stoppage was a bit premature-- it probably only delayed the inevitable. Juanma didn't seem to protest too much. He knew he was beat on this evening.
And a nice description of the left and then right hands which led to the 5th round knockdown Tim. It reminded me of the old razor commercial--- "lift and separate": the left lifted Juanma's head, the right then attempted to separate it from the rest of his body. And did anyone find the corner's handling of Juanma after that 5th round was a bit unusual-- almost poignant even? (I was watching with the sound down so I didn't hear the translation even-- but the visuals along spoke volumes).
Jet79 is right, maybe Juanma needs to go back to school for some refresher courses-- preferably Geometry (and the old axiom that the shortest distance between two points is a straight left, and not a wild roundhouse right---to keep that Math analogy going just a bit longer).
I was a bit surprised by Showtime's emphasis on the personal turmoil going on in Juanma's life--- but I think it looks like the right choice in hindsight. I was going to mention it in my prediction since, even when I was in AC for Gamboa last month, there was some scuttlebutt that it was a sad and messy situation (none of which puts Juanma in a bad light I might add). To me, one of the appeals in boxing is the boxers themselves--- even when we fans expect them to do inhuman things to each other inside of the ring, they are all too human outside of it and are subject to life's ups and downs just like the rest of us. Only we don't have to prepare for a guy in the other corner trying to "lift & separate" our head off. To his credit, Juanma refused to use it as an excuse last night-- but you can't convince me it didn't have any impact.--as I think Ghost Guerrero will be the first to tell you.
Given the language barrier, the "backstory" of Juanma and the nature of his personality is pretty much a blank slate in the US-- but from every thing I have read says he is a stand-up young guy who (refreshingly in this day and age) assumed familial responsibilities that most superstars would have otherwise run away from. IN other words, one of the good guys (who I always have a rooting interest in). Plus, he's entertaining as heck to watch, After this loss, his first priority is to take whatever time he needs off to get his family/kids/ personal house back in order. Then get back to the gym and get back to the fundamentals which made him a Top 20 P4P guy. Do that, and we have not heard the last of Juanma. But throw him back in the fire without any changes being made and we're looking at a career, I'm afraid, the will flame out just as quickly as it burned brightly. I don't think Mr. A, who genuinely seems to be fond of the kid, will make that mistake.
Spent the night multi-tasking: trying to finish up my taxes and watch all the fights last night. Let's just say there was plenty to distract my attention from the detail work. So if the IRS comes after me, I'll blame it on Berto. (why not?)
When upsets like these happen, you get to see (again) what great drama this sport provides. Don't get me wrong-- I'm not convinced of the greatness of any of the particpants last night, but in terms of entertainment value, the six month roll that the sport has been on (especially since the barren first half of 2010) continues.
Without splashing any cold water on things, let me give kudos up front to Victor Ortiz for summoning his warrior spirit for the full 12 and coming off the deck twice to pretty resoundingly beat Berto. Frankly, I found all his pre-fight talk unconvincing-- but he clearly willed himself through and would not let a Maidana happen again (well, at least the quitting part).) So all props goes out to him.
As for Berto-- not impressed by this performance at all. Methinks the steady diet of cupcakes which HBO allowed him to be fed (while we were forced to watch) finally came home to roost when the chips were down. Sure, he showed some of the grit which I gave him credit for pre-fight. But he also showed a questionable chin. And, most shockingly of all to me, he had no stamina or the much touted boxing skills to fall back on when in deep trouble. Both early and then the last third of the fight, he was flopping around the ring like a wounded baby seal.
Having said that, I also said in my prediction that "Ortiz winning a war" would "definitively" answer any and all questions that arose after Maidana. After last night, I might need to recalculate my figures there (sorry still in tax mode). I'd say Ortiz's performance/redemption is about 75% of the way home now. Sure he was in a tough fight-- but he was up against Andre Berto, the aforementioned wounded baby seal. And STILL Victor gets dropped twice and was getting tagged occassionally even late. Berto demonstrated that he does not have the assassin like "more dangerous when" hurt instincts of a Maidana, much less an elite 147 lber (Pac/PBF/SSM even Margs). To draw a Teddy like analogy, if boxing is math Victor has just passed his algebra test in Berto. But he still must pass the trig test against a Madaina-like killer as a prerequisite before he can legitimately even mention taking advanced calculus (Pac/PBF).
So lets not get carried away here--- I'm looking at you HBO crew. I got the sense that all too often hyperventilating Lampley thought he was broadcasting the Miracle on Ice in that final round, and Manny was throwing roses the entire night at both Berto and VO. Where was Max for some balance? (especially since he elicited Victor's fateful "Im too young for this" comment post Maidana.
It was a good fight that was entertaining as hell (not fight of the year for me-- that's still Marquez/Concepcion by a wide margin). But the two combatants are both flawed-- and no where near elite level. It would have been nice for the HBO crew to have recongized this during the telecast.
I suspect that Victor and GBP will follow Berto's lead here and stay at 147 where he will fight a bunch of the other names further down the rankings and make a few paydays. My Ortiz/Rios dream match up seems further and further away. Maybe since they both have belts the feud can be put to rest?
I cant believe that at one time they are looking at berto as a possible opponent for pacquiao. He couldnt have lasted a round with pacquiao.
Berto-Ortiz was was an exciting, dramatic fight. Ortiz restored a modicum of credibility, Berto perhaps earned some too (though I'm loathe to permit him a compliment not paid to his natural attributes). But I want to temper my praise. Despite enjoying the fight, I couldn't help but think that I was watching two fighters comport themselves as fighters do, as they are supposed to, as we have come to expect (perhaps unrealistically) them to do when they ply their trade. There was nothing particularly Herculean about either performance when taken in the context of the sport. It was a great fight, an example of perspicacity of matchmaking (or was it desperation?), and worthy of a rematch. But the narrative of redemption attached fails to resonate with me. I saw two guys give their best performances when the moment called for it. They did what they were supposed to (which admittedly, is much more than I could ever give) and for that they earned our applause and "the big piece of chicken" as Chris Rock would say. The praise of the performances is deserving, but perhaps influenced by the low estimation many fans had of the two combatants going in to Saturday night. In my puffy, oozing, allergy riddled eyes, they went from dubious and fraudulent respectively, to members of a fraternity of legitimate prizefighters. A proud accomplishment, but no swords were pulled from their stone sheaths.
Remember that scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street II when Freddy Kruger walks toward his frantic victim with his arms outstretched, and his arms have grown in length so that his hands are touching the walls on either side of the alley? That's Juanma. Punches so wide he negates his speed, takes ages to get his hands back, and thus doubles the threat to his questionable chin. And judging by his bulldog jowls at the Gamboa fight it looks like he took the Ricky Hatton approach to between fight moderation - one where the Golden Mean isn't even visible on the hoizon. Marital distractions or not, until the above changes, he's not going to improve. Again, a rematch is in order I think. Salido deserves the payday.
Amir Khan. Meh.
I don't think it's too hard to figure Ortiz out, given what's happened in his prior two 'big' fights. In the Maidana fight, he was criticized for getting too excited and going for the knockout, opening himself up and getting reckless. Thus, he got crushed. So, he changed tactics. Against Peterson, he hurt the man early (same as in the Maidana fight) and decided he'd not be as aggressive and try to box his way to the end, Peterson is a counter puncher and that played into his hands. Ortiz got the draw there. So Ortiz said screw it and decided he'd not let off the gas anymore.
it looked like there were a lot or series of upsets lately..depending on where one stands.. all were exciting fights.. with again a lot of excuses from all sides, and some hometown decisions in between.. hahaha this gives the boxing world a new perspective in every fight.. no more expert predictions and scholarly analysis of every fighter in every round in every fight.. haaaah.. sigh of relief.. now we can await the next fights without having to deal with the prophecies of the prophets having to foretell the results of oncoming matches...
Looks like Sky made the right decision to not pick up the Khan fight. Of course he is probably lucky his family meddled in the tv deal so a bigger audience didn't see a nothing fight. Mcloskey blew the perfect opertunity to look skyward in anguish and scream Khan!!! at the press conference. Would have been Shatnerian.
Oh my - I picked out Ortiz on points at 9-1 on twitter and then fell asleep trying to figure out how much to bet. Felt quite sick when I saw the result. Fair play to Ortiz, though, fighters are pigeon holed way too quickly these days, I'm always a fan of someone sticking it to the critics. Bang goes the Gamboa-Lopez intrigue too. JuanMa is getting badly hurt in almost every fight - that's a one way ticket to ill health.
Whoa that marinade is smelling kind of funky. Sorry Bob, your only chance now is to cure it and make bacon.
@MikeMadz It's just because they're running out of credible opponents. Berto had it on the strength of being one of the last, best welterweights standing. If you think that reflects poorly on the welters these days, I wouldn't blame you. It's been chipped away a good deal. I still think, even with this showing last night, he would have been more credible than old man Mosley.
@WILLFRANK That'll probably be the last straw for Livefyre on TQBR. It's been nothing but trouble. I've discussed it with Bloguin and they're up for switching me back to the most recent system.
@jet79 I beg to differ. If any fighters had done what Berto and Ortiz did last night, we would have been impressed. Getting off the canvas to win a fight or even stay up is a difficult thing to pull off. Are we MORE impressed because we didn't think these two had it in them? Sure.
@JonBonJovi88 Logical series of thoughts. He just seemed to be so confused in the Peterson fight.
@MarkLin I addressed that. I don't think he's exactly fought bums, either.
@BenjaminjrLasegan Why did your post read like an L. Ron Hubbard treatise? Boxing fans and writers aren't supposed to make predictions? Sorry, we're not passive fans of the sport.
@BenjaminjrLasegan There's no harm in boxing writers predicting who they think will win. It's the certitude with which some of them do it that's bothersome, I guess. I used to occasionally all but guarantee a certain result, but you get it wrong like that a couple times and you learn your lesson. Well, some people do, anyway.
@ThePJ Head honcho Adam Smith will be mightily relieved this morning. So, Khan's family planned it all? Those crazy mavericks. They should sign to fight Junior Witter next and sell it to Timbuktuian TV
@safesideOTR Ouch on the bet.
@ThePJ Maybe he meant to marmalade it. Encase it in jelly or something.
@tstarks @jet79 Can't get the image of Juanma as Freddy Kruger out of my head now. And its a mark of a pro that you got the exact sequel it was in correct as well. Champions get the little things right Jimmy!
I think both of your points are valid-- but I lean to Jet79's perspective if only becuase-- having watched far too many non competitive Fight Night CLub and Solo Boxeo bouts over the last year and a half-- I do think the "professionalism" bar that Jet79 is citing has been lowered from what it was 20/30 years ago (sorry to make this sound like a "in my day" post, but it just may well be). I'm sorry-- Andre Berto may have been on HBO 11 times and is a belt holder who defended his "title" five times but his career path has been one where he seemed to consciously choose the path of least resistance every step of the way. And it cost him last night when he got in a spot of trouble; he had nothing in his reserve tank or even experience wise to really fall back on.
Just find it interesting Tim that you seem to enjoy Ortiz/Berto far more than you did Marquez/Concepcion-- which to me is still the pick for FOTY. Again, both bouts were highly entertaining, and each of the combatants highly flawed (which I think was the thing that put you off about Tyson/Concepcion being "great"). To me, Berto's less then impressive early gassed performance is what prevents me from calling it FOTY (it may not even make my list of finalists, and is behind Morales/Maidana too). Plus, while Victor stayed agressive, and Berto kept throwing (on legs looking like overcooked spaghetti) nearly every punch thrown in Marquez/Concepcion seemed intended to put the other guy to sleep to the very end--- and those that connected very nearly did. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
@PaulKelly yeah ok, you're right.. just my disgust perhaps.. that's the point of these posts anyway.. my mistake.
@tstarks if there is one word to describe the teasing of gamboa juanma that will now amount to nothing it is masturbation.
@PaulKelly @Scott_Kraus @WILLFRANK @tstarks Agreed. I read MAX often, but there are times when it seems they outsource for their fight recaps and then it's a crap shoot. Gatti-Ward I, like "A Heavyweight Title Fight" might have life as a metaphor in sports and life in a manner much like the Superbowl does. But that literal comparison is inappropriate. Good to see you writing on TQBR.
@PaulKelly @Scott_Kraus @WILLFRANK @tstarks I think Maidana-Morales is my FOTY at this point. Berto-Ortiz was fun, but there were rounds where both fighters tried to land their lead crosses, miss-fired on tiring legs, and ended up clinching. Ortiz did fairly well on the inside, but predominantly because Berto has zero inside game. Acosta-Rios was a tale of two fights where they switched roles midway through, so the give and take wasn't as sustained. Marquez-Concepcion was fun, but Morales was so damn impressive against the male icon Marcos Motherf@%&ing Maidana, and control of the fight swung more frequently than Acosta-Rios. So it gets my pick in what has been an awesome year.
@Scott_Kraus @WILLFRANK @tstarks @jet79 I'm with you, Scott. Maidana-Morales was more exciting and MUCH more surprising. I think Berto-Ortiz was a tough fight for 12 rounds, but it was dramatic for only the first six or seven. Still a fine bout, but FOTY's are filled with drama from start to finish.
@Scott_Kraus @WILLFRANK @jet79 So, just to be clear: I think we have FOTY candidates in Rios-Acosta, Marquez-Concepcion, Morales-Maidana, Ortiz-Berto and maybe some others. I would likely put Marquez-Concepcion ahead of Ortiz-Berto, but I haven't given it a pecking order in my head yet. Just a general impression.
@Scott_Kraus @WILLFRANK @jet79 I wouldn't say I enjoyed Ortiz-Berto more than Marquez-Concepcion. Ortiz-Berto had similar flaws: there were too many noncompetitive rounds. It was more dramatic in some ways: Berto's out-of-nowhere punch in the 6th, and Ortiz dropping Berto while he himself was still hurt, among them, along with the unlikelihood of THESE two playing tough guy to such an extent.
Berto, as I mentioned, had TWICE experienced big trouble prior to this fight, and overcame it both times. And when we contemplate whether he always took the path of least resistance, we shouldn't forget that he signed to fight Mosley when Mosley was one of the most feared guys in the sport. If you choose to believe he pulled out of that fight under false pretenses, that's on you -- maybe he didn't care bout the earthquake in his native land. But Berto was the #3 welterweight with good cause. His level of competition and his win/loss record against it is better than anyone beneath him. Could he have done better? Absolutely. He took excessively strong negotiating positions, knowing, probably, that HBO would have his back if he didn't get what he wanted. But his team DID pursue fights against Cotto, Mosley and Pacquiao in the last year and a half, however ineptly. That doesn't sound like the easy way to me. I honestly don't see how his level of competition or experience somehow failed him here. I think other things -- his corner, his stamina, etc. -- did.
If you're telling me that 20-30 years ago there were fights like Ortiz-Berto every week, I want to build a time machine.
@WILLFRANK @tstarks @jet79 I can't speak for Tim, but I have Maidana-Morales as my FOTY leader in the clubhouse, followed by Ortiz-Berto and then Marquez-Concepcion. Marquez-Concepcion was a great, great action fight, but the drama involved in both Maidana-Morales (especially) and Ortiz-Berto put them on another level. If the last 3-4 rounds of Ortiz-Berto had matched the thrill of the first 8, it would have been my choice. But Maidana-Morales was action-packed beginning to end, was entirely unexpected, featured huge swings in momentum, a featured the clash of 2 eras of action warriors. It's going to take something really special for me to put it ahead of that, and Marquez-Concepcion wasn't quite THAT special in my opinion (I'm talking something like Somsak-Monshipour, and I didn't think Marquez-Concepcion reached that level). But like you said, it's all in the eye of the beholder. Everyone seemed split on the FOTY last year (among Khan-Maidana, Soto-Antillon and Segura-Calderon I), looks like we might have a similar situation this year.
But wow, what a night of fights, and what a spectacular run of outstanding fights and unexpected results. Kudos to all the great warriors involved.
As far as Juanma is concerned, I say give me Salido-Juanma II and then, if Lopez can avenge his defeat, go right to Gamboa-Lopez. If Lopez has already slipped, then I guess we can just blame Bob for letting the meat spoil.