LAS VEGAS – This was not the type of drama Edgar Berlanga had in mind Saturday night.

The heavily hyped super middleweight prospect had to get off the canvas from a ninth-round knockdown to beat brave Argentinean Marcelo Coceres in their 10-round fight at T-Mobile Arena. Brooklyn’s Berlanga beat Coceres by unanimous decision, but going the distance against an opponent Billy Joe Saunders stopped and getting dropped raised questions about Berlanga’s potential.

Despite the defensive flaws Coceres exposed, judges Eric Cheek, Patricia Morse Jarman and Ricardo Ocasio all scored their fight 96-93 for Berlanga on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard.

Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) entered the ring as a 60-1 favorite, according to Caesars Sportsbook. That didn’t stop the extremely tough Coceres (30-3-1, 16 KOs) from becoming the second straight opponent to take Berlanga the distance.

Berlanga, 24, drew a lot of attention for knocking out each of his first 16 pro opponents in the first round. His impressive streak ended in the bout before he encountered Coceres.

Demond Nicholson took him the eight-round distance in that April 24 bout in Kissimmee, Florida.

Coceres’ claim to boxing fame before Saturday night was testing Saunders in their fight for Saunders’ WBO super middleweight title nearly two years ago. Saunders (30-1, 14 KOs) trailed on one scorecard before the heavily favored southpaw knocked out Coceres in the 11th round at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

By the start of the 10th round, Berlanga appeared fully recovered from a knockdown that occurred late in the ninth round.

Berlanga’s right uppercut made Coceres retreat in the ninth round. A resilient Coceres, whose right eye was almost swollen shut, later caught Berlanga with a counter right hand that knocked an off-balance Berlanga flat on his back.

Berlanga seemed more angry than hurt and got right to his feet.

Coceres connected with a right hand in the eighth round, but Berlanga took it well.

Berlanga’s right hand affected Coceres barely 50 seconds into the seventh round. Berlanga was better defensively during the seventh round than he was during the sixth round as well.

Coceres connected with yet another right hand just before the midway mark of the sixth round. That shot strengthened Coceres’ confidence and enabled him to land another flush, straight fight about 45 seconds later.

Berlanga didn’t appear hurt by either of those punches, but taking such clean shots exposed his defensive flaws.

Coceres caught Berlanga with a left hook that turned Berlanga’s head with just over a minute to go in the fifth round.

With about 1:40 to go in the fourth round, Berlanga blasted Coceres with a left hook that wobbled him. Later in the fourth round, Coceres caught Berlanga with a right hand that briefly stopped Berlanga from punching.

A cautious Coceres tried to move away from Berlanga throughout the third round. Berlanga nailed Coceres with a jab with just over a minute to go in the third round.

Berlanga blasted Coceres into the ropes with a right hand with about 30 seconds to go in the second round.  

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.