Edgar Berlanga looked forward to the sport’s biggest night of the year to date, though was left with a bitter taste over the manner in which it concluded.
The unbeaten super middleweight prospect was in attendance as Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez unified the WBC/WBA/WBO belts following an 8th round stoppage of unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders in front of a record-breaking crowd of 73,126 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Alvarez (56-1-2, 38KOs) managed to fracture Saunders’ right orbital bone, forcing head trainer Mark Tibbs to rescue the Brit from further punishment in calling for the fight to cease prior to the start of round nine.
Saunders’ own strong stance the manner in which fighters have bowed out of similar situations have been used against him in the aftermath. Others, like Berlanga, simply take issue with the fight ending in the corner rather than in the heat of battle.
“P-ssy. That was bad, Even if you were losing the fight at least go out with a bang,” Berlanga told Little Giant Boxing founder Constantino Garcia after the fight. “You’re in front of 73,000 people. It’s sad that it had to end like that. It is what it is.”
Saunders (30-1, 14KOs) was a considerable underdog heading into the night, thriving in the role of villain complete with a fight week filled with antics. The former two-division titlist did his best to get inside Alvarez’s head, even threatening to withdraw from the fight unless he was granted his desired ring size. Event handlers gave in, providing a 22’x22’ ring for the show which established the record for the largest-ever indoor crowd.
Through seven rounds, Saunders was at least in the fight, trailing by three points on two cards and just one point on the third. It changed in the worst way in round eight, when Alvarez badly hurt the Brit and caused significant swelling around his right eye. Alvarez was confident of the fight being stopped to the point of walking around the ring moments before referee Mark Calo-Oy officially signalled the end of the night.
“I don’t agree with it,” insists Berlanga. “There’s girls out there, guys out there that go out with their eyes (swollen shut), I don’t understand it, man. It’s bad for business.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox