Promoter Eddie Hearn has an idea for an attractive in-house matchup for next year.
The Matchroom head suggested his company may look into making a super middleweight bout in 2024 between two of their clients: New York-based Puerto Rican Edgar Berlanga and rising star Diego Pacheco, a Los Angeles native of Mexican descent.
Talk of a Berlanga vs. Pacheco fight ramped up recently after Pacheco, 22, knocked out Marcelo Coceres in nine rounds in the headliner at YouTube Theater in Inglewood, Calif. The highly regarded Pacheco had to endure some thorny moments in what many regarded as his toughest test to date. (Coceres, by contrast, went the distance with the Berlanga in 2021 and even dropped Berlanga in the ninth round.)
After stopping Coceres, Pacheco (20-0, 17 KOs) did not hesitate to call out Berlanga to a fight next year, saying he believes he would “knock him out cold.”
After compiling an unbroken string of 16 first-round knockouts Berlanga, 26, has seen his appeal wane, having gone the distance in his last five fights.
The only barrier to making that fight may be Berlanga’s desire for bigger names, according to Hearn. Berlanga (21-0, 16 KOs) has stated his intention is to fight Jaime Munguia or Canelo Alvarez, the 168-pound division’s undisputed champion, but there is no guarantee those fights will materialize.
“I think that’s a massive fight in 2024,” Hearn told Matchroom Boxing in a video posted on the company’s YouTube channel. “Of course, Edgar wants the big names, if you like. The Munguias and obviously the Canelo Alvarezes, but if Diego keeps winning, he’s gonna put himself right in contention.
“He’s #3 with the WBO, and I think he’s top ten with every governing body [at 168]. If you’re looking for opponents, why not? Why not Diego Pacheco? He [Pacheco] needs a big name next. We had a nice crowd in here,” said Hearn. “This is going to continue to grow in Los Angeles. He’s a very popular man in South Central, and after that performance tonight, you’re going to see the crowds continue to grow.”
Regardless of Berlanga's status, Hearn said the goal for 2024 is to line Pacheco up for a world title shot in 2025.
“We’re going to do a big building job on him in 2024 to put him in a position to fight for a world championship in 2025,” Hearn said. “That’s the plan. Obviously, Canelo has all of them [the titles at 168] all at the moment, but in time, when he retires or moves or doesn’t fight mandatories, his belts are going to free up. Diego is so well-positioned across the governing bodies to challenge for them, particularly with the WBO.
“So he’s in a great position. We’re not in a terrible rush with Diego Pacheco. As you said, the matchmaking was perfect tonight. Now, we need a step up from Coceres. They’re not many steps. There’s probably one or two steps before you get to the world champions, and I think that works perfectly for us timing-wise.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.