Edgar Berlanga outlasts Steve Rolls
NEW YORK, NY—The video clips still echo in his head of the tall-for-his-age, spaghetti-thin kid with the pop in his fists. The tank top would hop up off his shoulder each time he threw a punch. Edgar Berlanga fell in love with the power. Anyone he touched fell.
It was like hitting a home run, connecting with that sweet spot, feeling that stubborn give that surrenders—and collapses.
Then, something happened over the last two years. Any time Berlanga hit someone, they suddenly weren’t falling. They were hanging around. They were lasting.
What happened if Berlanga couldn’t knock someone out quickly? Did he have the boxing skills to compensate?
After stopping the first 16 opponents of his pro career in the first round, and going the distance in his last two bouts, Berlanga was looking to begin a new streak against 37-year-old Canadian Steve Rolls on ESPN before a soldout 5,158 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
After a 10-round super middleweight main event, Berlanga (19-0, 16 knockouts) may have to wait a little longer to begin another knockout streak, after winning a unanimous decision on the scorecards of judges Tom Carusone (97-93), Mark Consentino (97-93) and Frank Lombardi (96-94).
“You could tell that he was fighting scared,” Berlanga said. “Every time I reach in or throw something, he’d pull back and was running the whole fight. I was looking for the big shot. My corner was telling me to use the jab. I’m just happy we got the victory and I’m moving forward.
“He was a scared fighter. It’s tough to land your shots when he’s scared, especially moving back. When he fought (Gennadiy Golovkin) GGG, he brought it to GGG. With me, he tried to use that running tactic.”
Said Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum, “Edgar Berlanga fought a tough, defensive fighter, and he got some valuable rounds in tonight. As you saw from the sold-out crowd, the kid is a star. There are many more big nights to come.”
Berlanga called it “fighting scared,” others may have called it fighting smart.
Berlanga was coming off a five-month layoff since he tore his left biceps against Marcelo Coceres on October 9, 2021, on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard.
But late in the fight, particularly the seventh and eight rounds when Rolls (21-2, 12 KOs) peppered Berlanga with double jabs, which popped Berlanga’s head back. Berlanga did counter with body shots, though much of the time he seemed to constantly load up and expect Rolls, excuse the pun, to roll over.
According to CompuBox’s unofficial stats, Rolls actually out-landed Berlanga by three punches according to CompuBox’s unofficial count (123-of-447 to 120-of-314). CompuBox counted three more power punches for Berlanga (63-of-148 to 60-of-190) and six more jabs for Rolls (63-of-257 to 57-of-166).
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.