NEW YORK – Edgar Berlanga has drawn plenty of motivation from criticism of his past three performances.
The first 16 fights of Berlanga’s professional career resulted in first-round knockouts, which generated a lot of buzz for the strong super middleweight prospect. Now that he has gone the distance in three consecutive contests, the unbeaten Brooklyn native wants to silence skeptics who’ve questioned his prowess with an impressive performance Saturday night against Colombian contender Alexis Angulo.
“I’m ready to explode,” Berlanga told BoxingScene.com after a press conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden. “I know these last few fights everybody been talking. But now it’s time to really show what I’m about.”
The 25-year-old Berlanga needed rounds after all of those first-round knockouts. He has gained valuable experience since his knockout streak ended 13 months ago, but Berlanga believes he needs a knockout against a veteran who has lost only to undefeated former super middleweight champions David Benavidez and Gilberto Ramirez.
Phoenix’s Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) stopped Angulo after 10 one-sided rounds in August 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Mexico’s Ramirez (44-0, 33 KOs) easily out-pointed Angulo in their 12-round, 168-pound championship match in August 2018 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs) is nearly a 3-1 favorite to become the third opponent to beat the 38-year-old Angulo (27-2, 23 KOs) in a 10-round main event ESPN will broadcast from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. Though he has heard and read criticism regarding three straight decision defeats of Demond Nicholson, Marcelo Coceres and Steve Rolls, Berlanga tried to remain focused on a recently completed training camp in Puerto Rico, during which he worked with a new head trainer, Juan De Leon.
“People have gotta understand I’ve been dealing with criticism all my life,” Berlanga said. “Even when I was knocking people out in the first round, they were saying, ‘He’s a bum,’ or, ‘He’s fighting Uber drivers,’ or, ‘He’s fighting tomato cans.’ It was, ‘Oh, Berlanga’s this. Oh, Berlanga’s that.’ So, everybody’s gonna talk. When you’re winning, they’re gonna talk. And when you’re at the bottom, they’re still gonna talk.
“Listening to all the critics and seeing it on social media and stuff, I bypass it now. It’s like a brush on my shoulder. I just look away because it’s like you can’t support them. And half of those guys that’s talking crap is guys that’s sitting on their living room couch, eating donuts.”
ESPN’s doubleheader is scheduled to start Saturday night at 11 p.m. ET. Puerto Rican junior lightweight prospect Henry Lebron (15-0, 10 KOs) and Puerto Rican veteran Luis Lebron (18-3-1, 11 KOs) will square off in the eight-round opener of ESPN’s doubleheader.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.