Thursday, June 22, 2023

Can Berlanga Convince The Boxing World He's Ready For Alvarez?

The main goal of just about every fighter that competes in and around the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division is to secure a fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Not only is Alvarez one of the superstars in the sport of Boxing, which obviously means whomever he fights is most likely assured a career high payday, but in regard to the Super-Middleweight division, he remains the undisputed champion of the world. As such whenever a fight occurs in the division that does not directly involve Alvarez, the obvious question that surrounds it is whether those participating in a fight can make a convincing argument as being a potential opponent for him either in the near future or perhaps further down the road.

Undefeated Super-Middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga is one fighter that is trying to make that argument. Unbeaten in twenty professional fights with sixteen knockouts, Berlanga has quickly developed not only a fan following, but also buzz due to his punching power and ability to score knockouts almost as quickly as a fight begins, having scored all sixteen of his knockouts in the first round. Naturally, as a fighter moves up the ladder of contention, the level of opposition theoretically is supposed to get tougher for young prospects turned would be contenders.

While Berlanga had successfully worked his way to being the North American Boxing Organization (NABO), champion in the Super-Middleweight division, the streak of knockouts which began his career would ultimately come to an end in April 2021 when he scored an eight round unanimous decision over Demond Nicholson. This would begin a different streak as in his last four fights, Berlanga has been forced to go the distance.

Following his last outing in June of last year, where he scored a ten round unanimous decision over Alexis Angulo in his first fight as a main event attraction, which was broadcast on ESPN  and it's streaming network ESPN+ from Madison Square Garden's Theater in Berlanga 's home of New York, the fighter came to a  mutual agreement with his promoter Bob Arum to part ways. It is not uncommon for fighters to try and break away from promoters who help develop them as they try to progress for a hoped for shot at a world championship. Usually, such splits between fighter and promoter usually come as a result of the promoter's failure to secure a fight that would either move the fighter closer or directly to the goal of challenging for a world championship.

In essence, that appears to be what led to the split between Berlanga and Arum as the promoter described the split as a difference in opinion as to the direction of Berlanga 's career. Now one year removed from his last fight Berlanga, who is rated in the top ten in both the World Boxing Organization (WBO) per his holding the affiliated NABO and the World Boxing Council (WBC) in the Super-Middleweight division, prepares to return the the ring on Saturday, June 24th at The Theater in Madison Square Garden as he faces former world title challenger Jason Quigley in a scheduled twelve round bout that can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN

This fight not only represents Berlanga 's debut on a new network after fighting the majority of his career up to this point competing on ESPN/ESPN+, but more specifically and perhaps importantly, this will be his first fight under new promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. What makes that significant is for the last several years, Hearn has promoted and developed what has so far been a successful relationship with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. Berlanga 's decision to sign with Hearn should be viewed as the obvious path for him to try to get a shot at Alvarez.

In Jason Quigley, Berlanga will face a fighter who has challenged for a world title for the first time in his career in a fight that is one further step up. There are two questions that come to this observer's mind as this fight approaches.

Number one, what kind of Berlanga will we see in this fight? As some may recall, despite getting the victory over Alexis Angulo in his last fight, he was criticized for his performance with some fans even stating that they felt Angulo won the fight. Whether his performance was in part affected by nerves in main eventing a Boxing card for the first time and doing so in Madison Square Garden, and/or what turned out to be a pending split with his then promoter Bob Arum and his promotional company Top Rank Inc., is something that only Berlanga can answer for himself. At this stage of his career after turning professional in 2016, Berlanga should know that he is at least in theory approaching competing at the top level of the sport and therefore, should expect the competition level to increase. The second question that surrounds this fight is whether or not Jason Quigley will be able to provide resistance and be able to test Berlanga?

Despite a respectable record of 20-2, with 14 Knockouts coming into this fight and being a former North American Boxing Federation (NABF) as a 160lb. Middleweight, Quigley is most known for having been knocked out by then WBO Middleweight world champion Demetrius Andrade in two rounds in November 2021. While Quigley seemed to be caught cold by the highly skilled and dangerous Andrade before he could have an opportunity to get into a rhythm, perhaps what some might see as a possible red flag is that Quigley has been stopped in both of his career losses. The loss to Andrade led to a near two year layoff for Quigley before getting back to the ring in April of this year in scoring a ten round unanimous decision over veteran Garbor Gorbics in what was his Super-Middleweight debut.

Quigley can rely on his experience or at least try to in this fight against Berlanga, but zt thirty-two there might be some who question what he might have left as perhaps some are questioning whether the twenty-six year old Berlanga is ready to potentially challenge for a world title or at least face another top contender should he win this fight. Perhaps some might take it a step further by saying that the difference in opinion as to the direction of his career, which led to his split with Bob Arum might have been rooted in Arum possibly feeling that Berlanga needs more time to develop rather than trying to get into position to challenge Alvarez in the near future.

Whatever the case might be, Berlanga knows that Quigley has been caught cold before and it would not surprise me, despite going the distance in his previous four fights, to see him try to jump on Quigley early and attempt to end the fight quickly. If that is indeed the case, Quigley's main objective at least for the first couple of rounds should be to try and weather the storm of Berlanga's punching power and try to gradually work his way into the fight as it progresses. Quigley must however, try to be as warmed up and ready to go as possible because he will likely be pressured from the outset and Berlanga is a fighter that can hurt you with either hand. If Quigley is not ready for the pressure and attack that Berlanga will likely apply, this could indeed be a short evening.

There were some fans particularly on social media that have been critical of Berlanga and Eddie Hearn for the selection of Quigley as the opponent for this fight. Such criticism is likely based on what happened to Quigley against Andrade. Sometimes however, especially in the present time we are all living in, no matter what a fighter and promoter might do, the fan can be fickle and hard to please. Regardless of what happens when Berlanga and Quigley square off in the ring, the fan regardless of what their level of knowledge of the sport and the development of a possible future world title challenger might be, fights like this are necessary for a fighter's continued progression and if Edgar Berlanga gets through Jason Quigley and does so impressively, his next fight will likely be against a top contender, if not what would likely be considered a long shot at least at this point to get a shot at Alvarez. It is up to Edgar Berlanga to make the best argument he can that he is indeed ready for that challenge. Whether he can do that in this fight might be debatable, but nevertheless, remains to be seen.

"And That's The Boxing Truth." 

Berlanga vs. Quigley takes place on Saturday, June 24th at The Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. The card can be seen globally on digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN beginning at 5:45PM ET/2:45PM PT with Before The Bell featuring preliminary bouts. This will be followed by the main card beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT. (U.S. Times Only.)

For more information about DAZN including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, availability around the world, local start times in your area, and to subscribe please visit:

(*Card and start times subject to change.*)

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