Edgar Berlanga wasted little time calling for the big fights after his sixth-round stoppage of Irishman Padraig McCrory in Orlando.

Berlanga improved to 22-0 with 17 stoppage wins and immediately had the likes of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Jaime Munguia in his sights. In particular, Berlanga wants Canelo, the most-lucrative fight at super middleweight.

“I just came off a big victory, it’s Puerto Rico versus Mexico, I feel like it’s the biggest fight,” said Berlanga. “Yeah, I don’t have a belt. I just feel like I’m bigger than a lot of these guys at 168 as far as my status. I’m big. I’m him. I feel like that’s the fight to happen. I know he [Canelo]’s struggling looking for opponents and I feel like we fit right there for him. I feel I could take over the 168 division. It’s Puerto Rico-Mexico, the biggest rivalry in boxing.”

Berlanga, who started his career with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts, had to go the distance in his next five fights, and McCrory represented his first stoppage win since 2020. He feels that doing the rounds has improved him as a boxer.

“My last fight [against Jason Quigley], where we wet 12 rounds, I feel like we needed that,” Berlanga added, talking about how it has stood him in good stead for the future. “I feel like we needed those 12 rounds, I was actually happy and I was like, ‘Damn, I went 12, it’s a good thing’. Now, if I’ve got to out there with the big dogs, with the Canelos and the Munguias and we go 12 rounds, I know what it feels like to get in those later rounds.”

Berlanga is now the WBA’s No. 1 contender and he was satisfied with his performance, and by becoming the first man to stop McCrory, who is now 18-1. 

“I feel amazing, I’m happy,” Berlanga added. “We prepped very hard for this man. I knew he was coming to fight. The Irish guys are coming to fight, he was undefeated, he was coming to prove a point, so we prepped very well for him.

“People thought the power left, or I was a hype job, but people have to understand, it’s hard. My first 16 fights, I fought 16 rounds. Young fighters fight 16 fights and they have over 100 rounds of experience. I only had 16 rounds, so me going the distance in those five fights, I feel it gave me so much experience. I tore my bicep, I got dropped the same night [against Marcelo Coceres], I still won the fight, but it was all about experience and just going those rounds.”

Berlanga is learning patience and clearly understands the benefit of experience and getting rounds under his belt. 

“I didn’t go in there trying to knock him out, it just came,” said the New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent. “I knew if I put my punches together I knew in the later rounds I would take him out. I believe in myself, I believe in my team, I believe in my skill and my will, but at this level it’s about setting it up. You’ve got to be a lot smarter. I feel the first 16 fights didn’t give me much experience and now I’m growing as a fighter.”

Berlanga also felt the work he had been doing in the gym with Mark Farrait paid off against McCrory, and that he was able to take the Irishman by surprise with his ability rather than his power.

“They didn’t know I was going to have fast feet like that, they thought I was going to have cement feet,” joked Berlanga.

“He thought he was just going to tee off on me and land big shots, his coach told me as soon it was over, ‘You don’t fight nothing like you fought before. Your legs, your movement, your jab, everything was just on point. You fought totally different’.

“I knew I started breaking him down. The first two rounds I just wanted to get his timing, I wanted to use my legs and see what he was giving, he was lunging in, he was throwing a lot of right hooks, he was trying to land big shots and once I saw that I started to put my punches together and after that I started going down to the body and every time I touched him I could see [him wince]. I knew he was going to come to fight.”