It’s days before the biggest fight of his career but Demond Nicholson felt the need to get in one last workout to the point of having to multitask.
Zoom interviews are scheduled for the veteran super middleweight, who has an assistant trainer hold up his phone as he answers questions while he jumps rope without breaking stride. No stone has been left unturned ahead of his dangerous challenge versus unbeaten knockout artist Edgar Berlanga (16-0, 16KOs), who he faces this Saturday live on ESPN from Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.
“This is the fight everyone’s going to be talking about,” Nicholson assures BoxingScene.com. “That’s why I can’t stop with this work I have to put in for (Saturday night). It takes hard work to bring these guys down, that’s I’m gonna do. I’m feeling confident and ready to shock the world against this guy.”
The bout serves as the chief support to a WBO featherweight title fight between defending champ Emanuel Navarrete (33-1, 28KOs) and local favorite Christopher ‘Pitufo’ Diaz (26-2, 16KOs).
It also comes nearly two years after a sudden kidney failure nearly cost Nicholson (23-3-1, 20KOs) his life. In that context, it merely cost him a scheduled fight on the undercard of the May 2019 junior middleweight title fight between Julian Williams and Jarrett Hurd. The Fox-televised event took place in Fairfax, Virginia, less than 45 minutes from Nicholson’s hometown of Laurel, Maryland.
Nicholson made weight for his scheduled bout with Ernest Amazu, only to land in the hospital shortly thereafter when experiencing cramping and dehydration after making the 168-pound limit. Rather than making his way to the ring in front of his adoring fans, he spent the weekend in ICU at a nearby hospital for observation.
A pair of decision victories have since followed, extending Nicholson’s current win streak to five straight following a 7th round stoppage loss to Jesse Hart in April 2018. Two fights prior to that, Nicholson came up just short in a split decision defeat to then-unbeaten Steve Rolls, suffering an opening round knockdown in their competitive June 2017 affair.
The 28-year-old was brought in to test the skills and heart of Brooklyn’s Berlanga, who has yet to see the 2nd round of any given pro fight. Three of Berlanga’s past five fights have extended into the final minute of the opening round, though managing to close the show before the bell on every occasion, including his scoring three knockdowns in stopping Ulises Sierra after just 2:40 of ring action last December at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
“We know what we’re walking into,” admits Nicholson. “He’s a young, hot commodity who’s knocking everyone out early.
“We also know he hasn’t been hit yet. He will get hit by me. I’m not worried about his power, he’s gonna learn about and have to worry about mine, though. I promise that.”
The fight is the very opportunity Nicholson has envisioned since fully restoring his health nearly two years ago. His most notable achievements to date have all come on the local circuit, having yet to enjoy a breakout performance on the road. All three career defeats have taken place outside of the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia), as well as an eight-round draw with Immanuwel Aleem in July 2016 in Quebec City.
Now eight years into his pro career, there is no time like the present for a breakout performance.
“I had other opportunities to return but none made sense like this did,” notes Nicholson, who hasn’t fought since a 10-round decision win over Mike Guy last February in Hanover, Maryland. “This is the best opportunity I’ve ever had in my career. This win will take me to the top. It will get me all the followers I need and put me exactly where I need to be—financially, spiritually and all that.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox