"Vicious" Victor Ortiz lived up to his nickname for the first time in a big fight last Saturday night with a stunning performance against the highly touted and previously undefeated Andre Berto.
In a surefire pick for Fight of the Year, Ortiz, 24, erased demons that have haunted him since he hit a roadblock against Marcos Maidana in 2009.
Maidana exposed Ortiz's vulnerabilities, inexperience and supposed lack of heart when he quit on his feet. He reinforced doubts in his ability to withstand adversity in the post-fight interview.
This fight was a treat to say the least. Rarely do we see two young guns early in their careers square off against each other with so much to lose.
From the opening bell, Ortiz fought like a man possessed. He took the fight to Berto in the first round, and forced him to the canvas with an overwhelming array of power punches.
Berto never truly recovered from the first round barrage. However, he did have his moments.
With Ortiz in control of the fight, Berto knocked him down in the sixth round with a devastating right hand that nearly changed the complexion of the fight and dashed Ortiz's plans for career redemption.
As soon as Ortiz went down, I had to wonder if we were seeing a repeat of the Maidana fight. Would Ortiz quit on his feet again?
He weathered the Berto storm and even dropped the 27 year old with a right hand late in the round that put him back in control of the fight for good. Unlike the Lamont Peterson fight, Ortiz finished strong and pulled through with a unanimous decision.
The career path of a boxer can change suddenly. One fight or even one punch can alter their course forever.
Saturday night's fight was example of that.
Berto will be back. However, Ortiz had more to lose and more to prove. He fought that way and now, with a plethora of main event-caliber attractions in the Welterweight and Junior Welterweight Divisions, the landscape is wide open for Ortiz.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. was in attendance Saturday night. Was he scouting a potential opponent? Ortiz would make for an interesting opponent against Manny Pacquiao as well. Perhaps a rematch against the Maidana is in order.
Regardless, Ortiz is back on the map where Golden Boy Productions always intended.
And I don't think we'll be questioning his heart anytime soon.
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