Victor Ortiz, left, beat Andre Berto last April for the WBC welterweight championship. (AP)
Former welterweight titleholders Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto, who faced off in a thrilling slugfest last April, have agreed to terms on a rematch, an industry source told SI.com. While the exact date and location have not been determined, the fight will be televised by Showtime.
In the first fight, Ortiz (29-3-2) outpointed Berto (28-1) in a Fight of the Year candidate that earned Ortiz an alphabet title and served as a springboard for his fight against Floyd Mayweather in September. That same month Berto rebounded from the loss by winning another alphabet title in an impressive fifth round technical knockout of Jan Zaveck. He later vacated the title, choosing to pursue a more lucrative fight with Ortiz than face the mandatory challenger, Randall Bailey.
While Berto-Ortiz II has been anticipated for some time, that Showtime swooped in to pick it up is a surprise. The first fight was televised by HBO, which has a long history with both fighters. Sources say both sides were not pleased with HBO’s initial offer, which was significantly less than what the network offered for the first fight.
By buying Berto-Ortiz II, Showtime -- which named former Golden Boy Promotions attorney Stephen Espinoza to replace HBO-bound Ken Hershman earlier this month -- makes a strong statement about its willingness to be a serious competitor to HBO. With very few quality matchups looming in the first quarter of 2012, Showtime may have picked up the most significant fight.
-- Chris Mannix