Weekend Afterthoughts: The Cleverness Of Orlando Salido, The Foolishness Of Juan Manuel Lopez; Next For Victor Ortiz, The Past For Andre Berto; Larry Merchant Vs. Gus Johnson; More

There’s your 6th round of Victor Ortiz vs. Andre Berto, if you weren’t up on it yet. Maybe if Berto doesn’t flail so recklessly after dropping Ortiz, it doesn’t end up being such a great round, because one of the things that made it special is that Ortiz scored his own knockdown while still on rubbery legs. Twice, the referee almost stopped it, even.

We’ve already talked about some of the weekend’s aspects — at great length and with copious amounts of intelligence (at least on everyone’s part but mine) — in our post-fight entry’s comments section. So you won’t be hearing me say anything nice whatsoever about Berto, a subject of some disagreement before. Maybe I’ll say something defending him ever so slightly, but mainly, it’s mean things. Just you watch. Look at how I started off.

  • Next for Victor Ortiz. Although he hasn’t been universally embraced coming off a gutsy, almost maniacally focused performance in a new weight class against a top-5 welterweight, impressions of Ortiz certainly have improved. Golden Boy’s Richard Schaefer has reportedly said that if he got his way, Floyd Mayweather would be next (I can’t find who originally reported it; apologies, boxing writer whose name I can’t remember). Obviously, that would be a career-high payday for Ortiz, and the fight does make some sense for Mayweather; Ortiz is a southpaw, just like Manny Pacquiao, which would make for good preparation should Mayweather decide he wants to awaken from his not-fighting-Pacquiao slumber. Of course, he’d have to awaken from his not-having-a-career slumber, too, and while Mayweather being in attendance for Ortiz-Berto might mean he’s interested in fighting the winner, it might also mean that he’s feeling insecure and wanting people to pay attention to him, a classic Mayweather trick. It does appear that both sides are interested in Ortiz-Berto II, and that’s a fight everyone can get behind, although it might not happen right away. Then there’s the issue of Berto having had a mandatory opponent waiting for a shot at his welterweight strap, one that Ortiz inherits: Selcuk Aydin, who is already demanding a bout with Ortiz. That might make a nice, credible but not-too-dangerous bout while we see if Ortiz-Berto II or Ortiz-Mayweather happens. One thing that seems more likely than before is that Ortiz’ trainer, Danny Garcia, could be staying put. He’s received some criticism over the years and even after this weekend, but he’s also garnered some guarded praise for what he did with Ortiz in this fight, and I personally lean toward him deserving some guarded praise.
  • Berto’s performance. Prior kind remarks about Berto’s grit set aside, there were indeed some deeply flawed aspects to his performance. His jab isn’t even a punch. He got warned for backhands. I’m not even sure what the idea is of a backhand like that — it only got him countered, and couldn’t have done any damage, or anything, really. On the inside, he was as hopeless as these two dudes taking on a punching bag game, something Ortiz’ team saw beforehand and exploited. His trainer, Dan Morgan, had been perceived by some as an asset, but sending a fighter out with such a deformed jab doesn’t reflect well on him, nor does the total lack of control he had between rounds over Berto’s family members, who shouted over him and created a kind of bedlam that isn’t conducive to receiving instruction’s from one’s trainer. Can you imagine sitting in trig class and your family members shouting at you over your teacher the whole time? Bet you fail trig. And Berto got a bit whiny in there about Ortiz’ perceived fouls. (Incidentally, I wasn’t as offended by referee Michael Ortega’s handling of the fight as some others. Maybe Berto dipping down and turning his head accounted for some of the rabbit punching, but not all of it — some of it was in clinches, and Ortiz was just flat whapping him on the back of the head. Maybe he didn’t deserve the point deduction, but it’s not like he didn’t hurt himself some with that kind of thing. And though I thought he missed a knockdown call in the 1st round, it wasn’t an easy call to make, since it looked like a trip to me at first blush.) Now, for those slight defenses of Berto: If Berto only fighting twice a year made him unprepared for this kind of fight, as Steve Kim argued here (and I’ll have some positive things to say about Mr. Kim momentarily), why didn’t it make Orlando Salido unprepared for his fight, since he’s done the same thing the last few years? And if Berto hadn’t been in a difficult fight in years, as friend of the site Carlos Acevedo argued here, then how did Carlos Quintana give him trouble early in their fight last year? That’s as close as I’ll come to saying anything nice about Berto in this post, and it’s not actually nice — it’s just neutral.
  • Salido’s tricks and Juan Manuel Lopez’ flaws. I enjoyed this breakdown from the aforementioned Kim about how Salido disguised his right hand in his featherweight upset win over Lopez. It’s not something I noticed myself, and looking back at the footage, I do now. It does still strike me that a bunch of other folk were able to avoid getting clobbered so by Salido’s right hand, and while perhaps it’s true that Yuriorkis Gamboa narrowly averted the same fate when he fought Salido, it’s still the case that he did, and Gamboa is no defensive master. You can credit Salido to a great deal with doing things that won this fight for him, but you can’t ignore that Lopez’ defense is ridiculously bad. (In the same piece, Kim had some good insights as well on some of the flaws Lopez exhibited.) This was a pretty awful technical performance from Lopez, as much heart as he showed in that fight.
  • Saving Lopez, killing Gamboa-Lopez. I’m still in the camp that thinks referee Roberto Ramirez shouldn’t have stopped the fight, but it’s also true that he probably did him a favor — Lopez was going to get beat up some more, and the premature pulling of the plug saved him from any grave punishment. And while I wanted to avoid some of the boxing politics stuff in my immediate post-fight write-up, I’ll do it now. Top Rank’s Bob Arum screwed himself and the fans out of a highly-desirable fight by insisting on “marinating” Gamboa-Lopez for so long. It’s funny that Arum famously told the fans who wanted the bout to “fuck themselves,” and now he’s the one that’s fucked out of some big cash, but it’s tragic, too. You’d think this would be the final nail in the coffin for the crowd that thinks you have to “build” fights, or that Arum can do no wrong. I bet it won’t be, though. I’ll just keep saying it over and over again: If you have a desirable fight, promoters, make it now. It might not be there tomorrow. Maybe Gamboa-Lopez gets back on course if Lopez gets back on track, but it’s now a very distant notion at best, and I haven’t seen anyone say since Lopez lost that they want Gamboa-Lopez anymore.
  • The rest. HBO’s Larry Merchant had one of his best nights in a long time; one line that comes to mind was him describing the doubts about Ortiz being “flighty, not fighty,” and Ortiz rectifying that Saturday. Merchant isn’t the commentator he once was, but he has stretches of brilliance that remind you of what he’s capable of when he’s on his game… Meanwhile, Showtime’s Gus Johnson was absolutely awful. Every time things got hot, he would just keep shouting boxer’s names and brief, flat remarks about what they were doing. “Salido! Coming forward! Lopez! Backing up! Salido! Trying to finish! Lopez! Hanging on!” I had hoped that Johnson could some day become good at this, since his energy could be a positive attribute behind the mic for boxing the way it is for the NCAA tournament. No such luck. He’s still atrocious… Here’s welterweight prospect Thomas Dulorme, delivering one of the underappreciated highlights of the weekend — a Knockout of the Year candidate. Not that it’s anybody’s fault for underappreciating it. It’s not like we didn’t have two upsets, one of them monumental; a couple Round of the Year candidates; or two Fight of the Year candidates… Another underappreciated highlight: The 6th round of junior lightweight Luis Cruz’ win over Martin Honorio, a Round of the Year candidate. The 6th of Ortiz-Berto was a Round of the Year candidate, too — it was a good night for 6th rounds…. Ortiz-Berto got a decent supplement of mainstream exposure: SportsCenter did a segment, I’m told that Pardon the Interruption did a segment and Deadspin had a couple items… Dan Rafael’s “scorecard” is a good spot to go for other weekend results, but his actual scoring of fights often leaves something to be desired. He somehow scored Ortiz-Berto for Berto, and while he wasn’t alone, Rafael pretty consistently is coming up with some wackiness.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.