When Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto threw down on April 16 in one of the best fights of the year, it excited so many fans. Both went down twice and combined to produce a sixth round for the ages.
Ortiz, who won the decision, earned redemption in the eyes of many who believed he lacked heart after he quit against Marcos Maidana in 2009. Berto, although he lost his welterweight belt, earned more respect in defeat than he had ever garnered in victory because, after years of taking fat HBO checks to fight second-tier opponents, he finally faced a serious one in his prime.
They both proved their mettle, thrilled fans and made us all look forward to their future fights -- including, hopefully, a rematch.
Now, six weeks later, Berto has ruined the glow with a serious case of sour grapes by spouting the popular insult of the day: the insinuation/accusation that there is no way a fighter can be as good as he seemed in the ring, so he must be using performance-enhancing drugs.
That's what Berto shamefully did Wednesday, taking to his Twitter page for a series of remarks about Ortiz and voicing his belief that his performance came by way of less-than-natural means:
• "Let me clear the air now!! You're right there is a reason why Ortiz had so much energy, a reason he could take my heavy shots and keep ticking."
• "[And] there is a reason why he came into the ring 165 pounds. I know people close to him and his camp and I know exactly [what] he was taking."
• "It wasn't Flintstone vitamins!! But it is what it is. I should [have] beat him anyways, but it wasn't me that night. Ortiz wasn't him either, lol."
Want to demean your opponent's performance or deflect from your own? Just toss out the PED notion, facts or proof be damned.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and those around him have been doing it to pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao for the past couple of years without a shred of evidence. Pacquiao has an ongoing lawsuit against them regarding the accusations.
Golden Boy Promotions executives Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya just settled the same lawsuit with Pacquiao on Tuesday -- the day before Berto dumped all over Ortiz.
While promoting his May 21 rematch with Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal heavily insinuated that Hopkins must have been on something when they fought for the first time in December because there was no way a 45-year-old could perform so well against a man who was 29 and in his prime. In a show of childlike emotion, Pascal hollered, "Take the test!" at Hopkins over and over during a media appearance, a reference to taking blood tests to prove he was clean.
Hopkins, who, at age 46, beat Pascal in the rematch, has been considering a lawsuit against him.
And now you have Berto playing the PED card.
Not long after his comments denigrating Ortiz, Berto tweeted, "Never bitter, never sour. Ortiz fought a good fight and got the W. I take my L like a man [and] come back better. I am looking forward [to] the rematch."
Sorry to say that accusing your opponent of using PEDs with no evidence is not taking your loss like a man. It's pathetic.
Ortiz appeared to take the accusations in stride, tweeting, "Berto needs to stop. I'll have to hurt him again. Me, I guess [I'm] not too bad for not having a heart or courage. ;)"
A few hours later, Ortiz added, "Bottom line, I'll take any blood tests necessary and body tissue test to silence anyone."
Berto, inundated with remarks ripping him for his comments, tried to back off with another tweet: "Wow, why does everyone's mind go straight to PEDs. Calm down everyone, I was just talking about Ortiz eating his spinach like Popeye, lol."
Yeah, right. I bet the dog ate his homework, too.
Although Ortiz's comments showed he was rolling with Berto's low blows, his manager, Rolando Arellano, was not so easygoing.
"Victor has never in the past or present, and will never in the future, use any performance-enhancement drugs," Arellano told me. "We will take any and all anti-doping tests, if necessary. Victor beat him at 70 percent of his full capacity as a fighter. Andre should focus on his performance and not look for meritless excuses. Out of courtesy, I am asking him to cease and desist [these] intentional, malicious, false and wrongful statements. They are tainting Victor's flawless reputation in the public eye. Failure to do so will result in legal action."
Instead of continuing to make a fool of himself, Berto might want to pay close attention to Arellano's last comment, then think about what just happened with Schaefer and De La Hoya over the Pacquiao accusations.