Berto’s Failed Drug Test Leads to Ortiz vs Lopez

By: Bryan Bradley

The usage of performance-enhancing drugs is nothing new in the world of sports. Athletes have tested positive for banned substances in the history of baseball, football, and many other respective mainstream sports. By that standard, the sweet science is no different. Undefeated pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather’s firmly held demand for Olympic style drug testing (OSDT) has served as a bold message, enforcing the need to raise the standards of safe and clean sports competition across the board, for a number of years now. Perhaps the need to address such a demand was never as painfully apparent as it is at this time.

A couple of weeks ago, super lightweight champion Lamont Peterson was scheduled to defend his title in a rematch against Amir Khan. That fight was cancelled as a result of Peterson’s positive drug test. As if one failed drug test was not enough to give boxing’s reputation yet another unnecessary black eye, it was recently reported that former two-time welterweight champion Andre Berto had also failed a drug test leading up to his highly anticipated rematch with Victor Ortiz. Berto vs. Ortiz has also been cancelled, causing disappointment to fans who were looking forward to seeing the sequel of Ring Magazine’s 2011 Fight of the Year.

The road to prominence for Ortiz is one that has had its fair share of fortune, drama, and failure under baptism by fire. Following his memorable, toe to toe brawl with Marcos Maidana in June of 2009, in which Maidana won by 6th round TKO, Ortiz was labeled a quitter. Beaten both mentally and physically, he had garnered a reputation as a fighter who buckles under pressure in a tough fight. On a quest for soul searching, Ortiz won his next four fights against Antonio Diaz, Hector Alatorre, former lightweight champion Nate Campbell, and former super lightweight titleholder Vivian Harris.

In December 2010, Ortiz faced Peterson in a 10 round super lightweight contest. After dropping Peterson twice in the third round, Ortiz failed to finish Peterson and allowed him to battle his way back into the fight to escape with a majority draw in an outing that was less than inspiring. Four months later, Ortiz was selected as an unlikely challenger for then undefeated welterweight champion Andre Berto.

Berto was a considerable favorite heading into the fight, but it was Ortiz who scored the upset by winning a unanimous decision in an unbelievable war of wills that featured multiple knockdowns and shifting tides of fortune. In what was a stark contrast to the listless looking Ortiz who was seen in the ring with Peterson, the victory over Berto was a courageous display of heart and passion that managed to capture the attention of Mayweather who was seen viewing the action live in the crowd at Foxwoods in Uncasville Connecticut.

The victory earned Ortiz the WBC welterweight title as well as a multi-million dollar megafight against Mayweather five months later. After Ortiz intentionally head butted Mayweather and then proceeded to carelessly embrace him with his guard dropped, Mayweather knocked Ortiz out in the fourth round. Coming off the the knockout loss to Mayweather this past fall, Ortiz is by no means allowing the untimely cancellation of his rematch with Berto to force him into obscurity and sit in the sidelines. The 25 year old slugger from Oxnard California, nicknamed “Vicious” is eager to return to the ring and make a statement to the world that he’s ready for another career-defining fight against boxing’s elite.

On Saturday June 23, Ortiz is set to face Josesito Lopez in a 12 round welterweight contest at Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. Lopez was last seen in September against Mayweather protégé and undefeated welterweight contender Jessie Vargas on the undercard of Mayweather vs. Ortiz. Vargas would emerge as the winner by way of a controversial split decision. Given his crowd pleasing performance against Vargas, Lopez can certainly be viewed as a reasonable last minute replacement in a match-up against Ortiz to keep the June 23 fight card ongoing as planned.

Each fighter has something at stake in this showdown. Ortiz would like to redeem himself with the people of Los Angeles by scoring an impressive victory at Staples Center almost three years to the day following his disappointing defeat at the hands of Maidana in that same arena. Lopez is looking to prove that his showing against Vargas was not a fluke and that he, not Vicious Victor, is ready to move on to more significant fights on bigger stages for more lucrative paydays.

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