Ahead of His Fight, Edgar Berlanga is on the Superstar Path
Over the course of 2020, boxing saw the emergence of young talent gaining more notoriety. With the pandemic halting sports and its return being tunneled into basic cable television, fans didn’t have to use pay-per-view to see new and exciting fighters. Promotional company Top Rank had a major hand in this, collaborating with ESPN to have championship bouts on the network. Terrence “Bud” Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko are two of the bigger names who had title fights last year. But there were stars made on the undercard as well. One of those is knockout sensation Edgar Berlanga.
Berlanga is a 23-year-old Brooklyn native. And like another 23-year-old Puerto Rican Brooklyn native, unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez, fighting on ESPN has given Berlanga the platform to enhance his star power. He has taken advantage of the eyes watching him as he’s knocked out all 16 of his opponents in the first round. But there are three aspects he possesses that are building blocks to the foundation of a superstar fighter.
Fighters starting their careers undefeated is nothing new. The reasoning on this is based around getting the prospect’s confidence up in the ring while learning the minute details of the sweet science. It’s why early on, bouts are typically scheduled for four or six rounds, gradually increasing the potential total of frames as the fighter gets better. Berlanga has knocked every opponent out in two minutes and 40 seconds or less of ring time. As exciting as it is for viewers, it’s tough to gain experience when the competition isn’t lasting long enough.
To say it another way, he has 16 professional fights and only amassed 16 total rounds. The best part of this, however, is that Berlanga is aware of this. “[I want] rounds,” Berlanga said, as reported by Boxing Scene. “The better competition, the better opposition we fight. I believe we’re going to get those rounds in. We ended 2020 with a bang. 2021 is a big year for us, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Both Berlanga and his camp understand that though he’s been impressive, he still has a long way to go before he is truly ready to fight top tier competition.
With the previous point stated, knocking out every opponent well within three minutes is incredibly amazing. Berlanga is doing the boxing equivalent of winning by lopsided margins and having the outcome decided early. In a sport like boxing where bravado is a positive trait, Berlanga is as confident as they come. It may come off as unfounded arrogance, considering the lack of in-ring experience and questionable quality of competition. But when the lack of experience is the result of his own speedy destruction of stuff competition, that confidence has some merit to it.
Presumably, the opponents get more challenging as boxers move up in rank. And while it’s clear Berlanga isn’t fighting top contenders, he is still putting every opponent on the canvas. Yet because he understands that experience is vital to his growth, his confidence doesn’t seem to have the tarnish of foolish pride. He recognizes that he’s good — really good — but still needs to improve.
The best athletes are supremely confident. His projected skill is trending upwards and it is okay to know it and revel in it. One can’t become champion if they don’t believe it to be more than possible first.
Any fighter who steps in the ring has more than a little courage and heart as a person. Trained fighters of any rank are registered weapons. But there is a special breed of fighters who look to take the will of their opponents. It’s as if victory must come with a physically implemented understanding that boxing may be a sport but these matches are fights. Boxers with that mentality who come to mind are Mike Tyson and the late great Joe Frazier.
Edgar Berlanga is that kind of mean.
“I’m a [expletive] monster!” he roared after his knockout of Lanell Bellows for his then-15th straight first-round KO. Berlanga steps into the ring looking to take the will of his opponents. And as the knockout counter grows, the intimidation factor does as well. It’s to the point that his camp expect future opponents to want more money to fight him. “Fighters are going to want to get paid to fight me now,” Berlanga told the media in a Zoom call in December, as posted by DAZN. “They aren’t going to want to jump in the ring with me for chump change. It happens to the best.”
This idea is confirmed by at least one other fighter, 31-year-old Jesse Hart. Hart (26-3, 21 KOs) says if Berlanga wins his upcoming fight, he’d love to have a bout in June — for the right price. “It’s been talked about,” the Philadelphia native said, as told to Boxing Scene. “As I’ve always said it doesn’t make sense if it doesn’t make dollars. The money has to be right for that fight but I would love to fight that kid.” Even a fighter like Hart, who also said he’d love to “expose” Berlanga, still understands the risk of getting in the ring with such a tactically barbaric opponent, and he’s asking for more compensation to take that risk.
Meanness is often reserved for heavyweight boxers, from the legends like Tyson and Frazier to current stars like Deontay Wilder, despite his recent slippage against WBC and linear champion Tyson Fury. But the smaller fighters can also be that way while blending it with a little more style and flash. The aforementioned Bud Crawford went on a profanity-laced rant on ESPN’s Max on Boxing before his fight with Kell Brook. Berlanga, a super middleweight, hasn’t done anything like that yet, but it is clear he becomes a bully when the bell sounds. Again, knockout artists have been a staple in boxing, especially early in their careers. But the dismantling of opponents with the brute force Berlanga uses is special.
Some boxers try to hit as hard as they can. Berlanga looks like he actually does it.
Ahead of his fight against Demond Nicholson on this Saturday April 24th, whether he continues his first-round knockout streak or not, Edgar Berlanga appears to have the right facets to his fighting persona to blossom into a true superstar of the sport.