Berto vs Ortiz: Keys to Victory, Four to Explore, & Official Prediction
By Vivek Wallace: Every young warrior in the sport reaches a point where they must sink or swim. Tonight, the world of boxing gets to watch as two men stand on this very stage, given a modern day present to build on their future by answering critical questions of the past. In the case of Andre Berto, many feel his level of progress has simply fallen short, as many will attest that while he does have a few notables on his resume, they were more aged than elite.
Article posted on 17.04.2011
In the case of Victor Ortiz, some would argue that while he hasn't shown as much as Berto, the records reflect that he actually did face a better level of prime competition, as evidenced in the Maidana fight where his opponent was a prime, top level fighter in his division.
Tonight, both men will face arguably their stiffest test thus far, as it relates to prime opposition. There are a few subplots that could make this a very interesting affair, and as we prepare to see them go to battle, we first take a look at both men's "Keys to Victory", "Four to Explore", and in the end, an "Official Prediction":
ANDRE BERTO - KEYS TO VICTORY
For Andre Berto, the keys to victory are perhaps more simple than many know. If nothing else, Ortiz has shown a very limited depth of heart, and in a dangerous fight like this against a man who's back is against the wall and his career is on the brink of a stall, there's only one approach that will work. Duel in nature, yet individual in delivery: Measured aggression. Berto will have to realize that (as he stated) Ortiz does in fact bear the power to hurt his opponent, and the speed to catch them without them seeing it coming, so he will need to pick his spots well, and press the action only when the time is right.
It is also key to note that although Berto must be careful with his attack, aggression will be key, because if Ortiz feels bullied early and fears the speed and power coming his way, his critical thinking will be very much compromised, and it's very easy to see him wilting to the pressure as the rounds go by. Ortiz likes to come in strong, but isn't always very precise. Berto can capitalize on this by first establishing a good jab, then later using it as a trap, giving a brief pause, allowing Ortiz to feel he slipped that jab, then when he leans in (like he has a tendency to do), catch him with that thunderous uppercut. One good uppercut can literally change the entire night for both men.
Berto hasn't faced a strong prime contender in the eyes of many, so although this isn't the best one on the market, the impression given is big enough to get him good acclaim with a solid outing. If he can execute this plan, the night and victory will belong to him.
VICTOR ORTIZ - KEYS TO VICTORY
The biggest key to victory for Ortiz is a battle that needs to be won well before he steps inside the ring tonight. That battle is the mental one. How ready is he for this moment? We've seen him wilt under pressure in the past, and of those men, although many were quality, none compare to the one he will share airspace with tonight. Ortiz will have to enter the ring with a "never say die" mantra firmly planted in mind. It all starts with execution. Ortiz has very good speed, very good power, and his jab is far better than often given credit for. Ortiz will be at a 2 inch reach deficit, but he does bring one wildcard into the race.
That wildcard is his southpaw stance, which has given Berto much trouble in the past when delivered at the hands of a fast boxer. Ortiz will have to use his angles and speed to offset Berto's attributes which are much of the same. Ortiz has said in recent days that he feels "his time (to evolve) has come". He seems hungry, he seems to have a very supportive core at his back, and if nothing else, he knows it's now or never. If he can land some nasty shots early and get Berto's respect, it's very feasible that we can see him become the man some thought he was, yet never had enough reason to believe. Sound execution and timely powershots earns him a victory tonight.
FOUR TO EXPLORE (CRITICAL ELEMENTS TO WATCH/GAME BREAKERS)
'Mint Condition': While Berto has looked solid in many respects, his conditioning down the stretch remains a very interesting element to watch. Several times in the past we've seen him fade down the stretch, and although Ortiz isn't known for a killer's pace, he is active enough to make Berto tired late, whether it be as a result of chasing him all night, or staying active in front of him all night. Berto recently spoke of how he does swimming and works pretty much until the day of the fight itself. Not a good idea, as many fighters peak too soon when they train nonstop this strenuously. I know they call it "mint" condition but there's nothin' sweet about burning out! Will Berto burn out? Stay tuned to find out.
Fear Factor or X-Factor?: Ortiz has shown great fear in trying moments, yet has also shown great promise in heated moments. Tonight he will be facing a man with more bullets in the chamber than any young gun he has ever faced. Medically, we learn that stress attacks the weakest point. Similarly, on a stage this grand, he will naturally revert to whatever his truest layer presents. Does he possess that true X-factor many say he has? Or will the ever-present fear factor remain the dominant trait? Tonight we'll see.
Southpaw or South-jaw?: As previously noted, Victor Oritz does in fact possess the wicked southpaw stance that gave Andre Berto fits in the past. This we know. We've seen Berto hurt before, and subsequently reduced to a hugger with very little left in the tank down the stretch. That we know. Although Berto has appeared more durable since then, what we don't know is how well Berto will handle powerful shots from a southpaw that comes quicker than he sees them coming. We know the shots you don't see hurt the most. Will Ortiz's Speed and southpaw stance answer questions about Berto's jaw, sending him south to the canvas? And if so, will it be a classic "late-in-the-night-early-in-the-fight" type shocker? Something to look out for.....
Should We Downplay the Weight Up?: Berto has campaigned at 147lbs. Ortiz, for the most part has campaigned at 140. While Berto appears to be the bigger man, it's Ortiz who routinely enters the ring in the high 150's, while Berto never has. Years ago we saw a weight drained Miguel Cotto look 'chinny' at the hands of Colombia's Ricardo Torres and others; yet very durable in the heavier 147lb weight class against the likes of Mosley and 11 rounds against a padded glove wearing Antonio Margarito. Can this increase in weight class give Ortiz an unforeseen edge? Will be interesting to find out.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION/UPSET BAROMETER: (RATING SCALE 1-5)
Tonight, when the lights come on and table is set, I think both men will enter the ring with a lot to prove and will give the type of effort that leaves no rounds in the chamber. For Berto, he is firmly aware that the fight public views him in many regards as a sheltered fighter. Ortiz never had the chance to take the scenic route, tossed in the cage early to face young lions such as Maidana very early in his career, perhaps even well before he was truly ready to face them. Tonight, both men know the outcome will answer many questions, and perhaps create a few more.
Contrary to what many believe, I expect this fight to be one of the best we've seen this year, which says a lot. Ortiz seems to be poised right now, and very ready to evolve and enter that next level in the sport. Similarly, Berto has maintained from day one that he is one of the best, and will one day prove it to the world. I think there will be tons of high points and virtually no lulls in the action.
When the smoke finally clears, I see Berto's speed, power, and precision being far too much, even for the most 'game' Ortiz we've ever seen. I think Ortiz will make it interesting, and perhaps even hurt Berto badly at one point, but an inability to sustain that effort or gamble in an effort to capitalize out of fear of being hurt in an exchange will prevent him from winning in the end.
OFFICIAL PREDICTION: ANDRE BERTO - VIA UNANIMOUS DECISION (UPSET BAROMETER PEAKS AT 4 OF 5 as Ortiz can win if he avoids powershots)
(OTHER PREDICTIONS: KHAN OVER McCLOSKEY VIA TKO RD8 - JUANMA OVER SALIDO VIA 11TH RD KO)
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), Skype (VITO-BOXING), and Facebook).
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