Tonight sees a good welterweight fight scheduled at Foxwoods Casino in Manshantucket, CT as Andre Berto puts his WBC title at risk against former light welterweight contender Victor Ortiz.
Since winning the title against Miguel Angel Rodriguez in 2008, Berto, 27-0 (21), has defeated the respectable lineup of Steve Forbes, Luis Collazo, Juan Urango, Carlos Quintana and Freddy Hernandez.
While Forbes was years past and weight classes above his best and Hernandez was just too inexperienced, Collazo, Quintana and Urango provided varying degrees of difficult opposition for Berto to overcome.
Interestingly, all three are southpaws and could serve somewhat as a look at what could be expected this evening as Ortiz is also a lefty.
None of Berto's three opponents listed above had trouble hitting the WBC champion and that is the hole in the Floridian's armor; defense.
However, Berto has phenomenal offensive skills and relies on his lightning quick hands to keep his opponent from punching back most of the time. Collazo showed what can happen when that doesn't work as Berto barely won that fight.
Can Ortiz actually improve upon Collazo's performance and take the WBC title from Berto?
One of the reasons this will be a difficult task is that Ortiz isn't a welterweight. He turned pro as a lightweight in 2004 before stepping up to light welter in 2006. This will be his first bout at welter and that alone is a big ask.
The only other time that Ortiz stepped up to world class level was during a 2009 firefight with Marcos Maidana for the Interim WBA title in which both men were on the canvas twice before Ortiz was stopped in the sixth.
Ortiz, 28-2-2 (22), does hold some good wins, turning back Nate Campbell, Vivian Harris, Antonio Diaz and Carlos Maussa however, all were past their prime.
Most recently, Ortiz was involved on a give and take war with Lamont Petersen that ended in a draw and that bout probably comes as close as what Ortiz can expect facing Berto.
Early on Ortiz had success behind a good body attack and dropped Petersen twice but couldn't finish the job. This came back to haunt Ortiz as Petersen made a second half rally, landing big shots.
While Petersen could be as fast as Berto, he doesn't punch with nearly the same level of power and if Berto can hit the target with the same frequency as Petersen, it will be a short night for Ortiz.
Ortiz will need to try and time Berto's efforts, countering effectively while pushing the champion back and making it a close quarters contest. Berto doesn't fight all that well on the inside and has a tendency to not neutralize his opponents while clinching, leaving them free to hammer away.
Also, Berto puts full effort into each punch and tires at time from the effort and if Ortiz can can create opportunities by making him miss a majority of those.
One thing that Ortiz cannot do is allow Berto to stand at an arm's length distance and fire away as Berto's speed and power are best suited to that approach.
Ortiz must show he can take the champion's power while remaining confident and aggressive, especially into the later rounds while Berto needs to control the challenger from the first round by keeping Ortiz on the defensive and on the outside.