Edgar Berlanga knew the troublesome moments he endured the night of October 9 would come as a professional prizefighter.
That’s why the Brooklyn-born boxer didn’t panic when he felt excruciating pain in the upper portion of his left arm during the third round of his fight against Marcelo Coceres. Berlanga knew something was seriously wrong, but he fought through a torn left biceps that required surgery.
Coceres later landed several flush right hands that exposed Berlanga’s defensive deficiencies before his counter right caused a flash knockdown during the ninth round. An angered Berlanga pounded the canvas in frustration once he went down, but the super middleweight contender quickly reached his feet, proved that he wasn’t hurt and won their 10-round bout by unanimous decision on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“That showed I could fight through anything,” Berlanga told BoxingScene.com in advance of his fight against Steve Rolls on Saturday night in New York. “I got another fight with getting rounds and I went the distance. It just showed I got heart, I’m a warrior. And now it’s just about me tightening up my skills, tightening up the tools and executing it.”
The 25-year-old Berlanga underwent surgery a little less than two weeks after he conquered Coceres. He couldn’t use his left arm in the gym until mid-January.
That time off provided Berlanga with plenty of time to reflect on what he endured during just his second professional fight that went the distance.
“When I first threw it and it tore in the third, I felt like somebody stabbed me in the bicep,” Berlanga said. “That’s how much pain I had. I felt like somebody probably stabbed me in my bicep. And then I threw it like a couple more times and I felt like my left arm was getting weaker. As soon as I came out the fight, my bicep was like twice the size, you know?”
Berlanga didn’t use his left arm all that much over the final seven-plus rounds against Argentina’s Coceres (30-3-1, 16 KOs), who lost their competitive contest by the same score, 96-93, on all three cards.
“I didn’t really wanna put too much attention on my arm [during the fight], cuz I feel like if I woulda done that my mindset woulda changed,” Berlanga said. “So, I just fought through it. And like I said, you know, it’s boxing – it comes with the territory. And you’re gonna have, you know, a broken hand, broken ribs, so it just comes with the sport. So, you’ve just gotta dig through. I faced adversity. You know, I got dropped, I tore my bicep in the third round and I still came out with the victory.”
The heavily favored Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) will test out his surgically repaired left arm against Toronto’s Rolls (21-1, 12 KOs) in their 10-rounder. ESPN will televise Berlanga-Rolls as a main event from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater (10 p.m. ET; 7 p.m. PT).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.