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Ortiz a stepping-stone for Berto?

Andre Berto, right, lands a punch that sends

Andre Berto, right, lands a punch that sends Freddy Hernandez, of Mexico, to the mat during the first round of their WBC welterweight championship boxing match Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, in Las Vegas. Berto won the bout. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

Andre Berto versus Victor Ortiz may not register a high number on the casual sports fan’s Richter Scale, but for the boxing purest, it’s just what the industry needs.

It’s rare these days to see two young, quality fighters stepping into the ring together.

Boxing fans will get a treat on April 16 when Berto (27-0) puts his WBC welterweight title on the line to face Ortiz (28-2) in a 12-round bout at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Connecticut on HBO’s Championship Boxing.

Berto has drawn criticism for his lack of a resume. It’s an unfair characterization when you look at his most recent opponents. Wins over Freddy Hernandez, Carlos Quintana, Juan Urango and Luis Collazo should warrant more respect for Berto.

“This fight is exactly what boxing needs right now,” Berto said. “Two young fighters in their primes, going head-to-head. I’m excited and I know this is going to be a tremendous fight. I look forward to fighting in the MGM Grand Arena at Foxwoods…This is going to be a great fight that no one should miss.”

Ortiz’ promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, certainly thinks Berto deserves more respect.

“This is a very risky fight for Victor, but I know he’s going to be ready for Berto on April 16,” Golden Boy president Oscar de la Hoya said. “The best need to fight the best and that’s what we have with Berto vs. Ortiz. I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys face off.”

The question that needs to be answered is if a win over Ortiz will be enough to get Berto over the hump. Will he get a shot at Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto or one of the top junior welterweights such as Tim Bradley, Amir Khan or Devon Alexander?

The problems with the top promotions companies not doing business with each other aside, a win for Berto should guarantee him a shot at any of the aforementioned fighters. If not that, Zab Judah or even Philadelphia’s Mike Jones could be an option.

As for Ortiz, 24, this is a chance for him to move up the junior welterweight ladder. Although he's coming up from 140 pounds to take on Berto, a win would put him in line to maybe take on Bradley, Alexander or Khan. An Ortiz-Judah card might not be out of the question either.

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