Ortiz suspected Berto was steroid user

Victor Ortiz has ample reason to be miffed at world welterweight champion Andre Berto, who first tore a biceps muscle — delaying their rematch earlier this year — then tested positive for the steroid nandrolone, as announced Friday.

Ventura’s Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 knockouts) appeared Wednesday at Staples Center to promote his June 23 replacement fight against Riverside’s Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 KOs) and said he’s suspected Berto has used performance-enhancing drugs since their April 2011 fight of the year.

Andre Berto

Andre Berto, left, delivers a punch to the face of Carlos Quintana during a fight in 2010. Victor Ortiz says he suspects Berto was taking performance-enhancing drugs when he fought Berto last year. (Cristobal Herrera / Sun Sentinel / April 12, 2010)

The bout was a classic, with both men knocked down en route to an Ortiz victory by decision, but Ortiz said he was irked by Berto’s saying afterward that Ortiz must have used performance-enhancing drugs to beat him.

“My whole thing is [Berto] saying that if I can take a beating like that for 12 rounds and still win … he made the conclusion that I was on steroids,” Ortiz said. “I thought, ‘You know, why would he say that? Maybe he’s on something.’ “

Ortiz said his speculation grew when he saw a shirtless Berto at a recent commercial shoot.

“I said, ‘He’s on something,’ ” Ortiz said. “Steroids are a bad thing, but you know, I didn’t care. I was still willing to fight him. I’m not mad at him. He didn’t deserve the fight, and now he’s not getting it.”

The test was gathered by the new Voluntary Anti-Doping Assn., run in Las Vegas by former Nevada boxing figure Margaret Goodman.

Ortiz promoter Richard Schaefer,  chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions, said he was unwilling to wait for Berto to exhaust his appeal to  the California State Athletic Commission.

“Waiting was no fun,” said Ortiz, who ran the Los Angeles Marathon and some triathlons since his layoff dating to a September fourth-round knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. “I could’ve had two fights in the time I’ve waited for this one.”

The June 23 card, with tickets ranging from $50 to $250, also includes a junior-welterweight bout between Lucas Matthysse and former lightweight champion Humberto Soto, and  a heavyweight bout featuring Riverside’s Cris Arreola, who’s angling for a fall date against heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.

Ortiz said he still harbors some ill will toward the way Mayweather knocked him out in the seconds after referee Joe Cortez’s signal to resume after Ortiz had head-butted Mayweather in the mouth.

“I lost my title, but there was no honor in that,” Ortiz said.

Now he faces Lopez, a 28-year-old Rubidoux High grad who’s spent time in gyms since the age of 8, toiling at Southern California promoter Ken Thompson’s shows mostly in the Inland Empire.

Lopez was given a significant stage on the Mayweather-Ortiz undercard, and most ringside observers differed with the judges who gave Mayweather protege Jessie Vargas a victory by decision that night.

Lopez shone as a skilled, smart boxer, and now he has what Ortiz’s manager referred to as his “Rocky moment,” stepping in to the main event at Staples, where Ortiz was upset by Marcos Maidana in 2009.

“These kinds of fights are the most dangerous,” Ortiz said. “He has nothing to lose.”

Lopez said he was at home watching an Angels game on television when he got the call that he was being considered for Ortiz, scrapping a June 22 date he had set at Soboba Casino in Hemet.

“I know going in that I have to win nine or 10 rounds to win the decision,” Lopez said. “I have to be on top of my game, but I have the will. I had a tough road through this sport. I never had a manager, still don’t. I haven’t been babied in this sport. I was a small, nerdy kid growing up, and I proved myself. I deserved this shot.

“And when I step into the ring, it will show.”

Lopez said he will prove he can punch just as hard as Ortiz.

“We’ll see,” Ortiz said.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/sportsnow/la-sp-sn-boxing-ortiz-staples-20120523,0,6516978.story

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