Wednesday, June 28, 2023

What Berlanga Can Take Away From Victory Over Quigley

The storyline prior to rising unbeaten Super-Middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga 's fight against former Middleweight world title challenger Jason Quigley on June 24th at The Theater in Madison Square Garden was whether or not Berlanga, who holds the North American Boxing Organization (NABO) championship in the Super-Middleweight division, could produce a performance that would serve as a strong argument for him as being a potential challenger for current undisputed champion of the division Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. As most know however, a slight wrinkle emerged two days before the bout when it was revealed that Alvarez had signed a three-fight deal with the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) group of promoters, which moves Alvarez at least for the time being away from digital subscription sports streaming network DAZN and at least for now to United States premium cable network Showtime, which for Berlanga, who recently signed with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who had promoted several of Alvarez' recent fights, now finding himself without what seemed like an obvious path towards facing Alvarez.

While this could obviously change given not only the state of the PBC's deal with Showtime, and the network's merger this  week with parent company's Paramount  and it's digital subscription streaming network Paramount+ as part of a major corporate restructuring, which leaves the future of Boxing programming on the soon to be renamed Paramount+ with Showtime up in the air, for the immediate, the news regarding Alvarez had to at minimum cause a distraction for Berlanga prior to what should have been viewed as a step up in his career. The elements of the business end of the sport notwithstanding, the bout between Berlanga and Quigley was one of youth versus experience.

It was the experience of Quigley that stood out early as he implemented a strategy with an emphasis on movement, giving angles, and trying to counter Berlanga as he came forward. Though such an approach is not always appreciated, particularly amongst fans that prefer more toe to toe action, it did establish, despite the belief based on his knockout loss to Demetrius Andrade in November 2021, that Quigley was not interested in cooperating with the stance of some that he was an opponent designed to give the young unbeaten rising contender Berlanga a showcase win and potentially a quick knockout after being forced to go the distance in his previous four fights. What was also noticeable about Quigley's strategy was his willingness to try to catch Berlanga in between the punches he was throwing, which seemed to be effective in spots throughout this fight.

Beelanga's pressure and harder punches when he was able to connect however, gave him an edge. Despite how effective Quigley's tactics appeared to be, what turned out to work against him were four knockdowns throughout the course of the fight. In rounds three, five, and two knockdowns in the twelfth and final round, Beelanga's punching power and pressure were able to get to Quigley and put him on the canvas. Although the knockdowns in rounds three and five appeared to be what are often referred to as "Flash Knockdowns" where Quigley did not appear to be significantly hurt, those knockdowns prove more often than not to be detrimental in terms of scoring for the fighter that is knocked down because it creates a deficit in points that without being able to score knockdowns of your own, can prove to be difficult to overcome. In this case, the knockdowns could give a false sense that this fight was one-sided in Berlanga's favor simply because they created a significant deficit in terms of scoring that Quigley could not overcome in losing a unanimous decision.

In actuality, Quigley's approach throughout this fight succeeded in keeping Berlanga from being able to dictate how it was being fought, unable at times to get into a consistent offensive rhythm, and at times appearing to make Berlanga look discouraged. While with the exception of the four knockdowns he was able to score, this probably was not the type performance Berlanga was looking for in terms of trying to make a statement as a potential challenger for Saul Alvarez down the line, sometimes a win is a win and his victory was still convincing albeit without the knockout that most were probably looking for or expecting.

Although this victory over Jason Quigley marked the fifth time Berlanga has had to go the distance after starting his career with sixteen straight knockouts, this observer does not necessarily see that as a negative. It is indeed true that if a fighter scores knockouts and can do so in devastating fashion that said fighter will almost always move up the ladder of contention quicker, receive more attention, and likely get an opportunity to fight for a world championship quicker than those who take a more measured approach. The potential drawback for those fighters who are able to carve out reputations as "Knockout Artists" is they do not necessarily get the chance to fully develop their skills, nor do they get the experience needed to learn how to adapt as a fight progresses into the middle and late rounds against fighters of varying styles, who will not always cooperate with the desired scenario of a rising star or his/her team of a quick knockout. While going the distance on a string of several fights may be seen as a red flag in the eyes of some, it is to be expected when a prospect turned contender steps up in the caliber of competition as they approach challenging for a world championship. Criticism no matter what a fighter might do or how they perform is something that will unfortunately also come with the territory, but the experience fighters gain at these stages is invaluable and no doubt will benefit Edgar Berlanga as he continues to move forward in his career.

"And That's The Boxing Truth."

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