It wasn't what one dreams of when one dreams of getting to such a stage, in Madison Square Garden, even the the Theater. Edgar Berlanga headlined in the main event Saturday night in New York City at the Hulu Theater, at Madison Square Garden, and he got the W. But the way the super middleweight prospect did it left a majority of watchers feeling like they didn't just see the next big thing who has a chance to fill up the Big Room next year, come Puerto Rican Day Parade time in NYC.
Top Rank promoted the fights and ESPN played them on their platforms. A 168 pound NABO title was up for grabs, and the situation was ripe for a “takeover” type scenario, where Edgar Berlanga came in and restored his status as a power-punching smasher. Berlanga yes, got the victory, and that strap, but it was a listless affair. The scores read for Berlanga, 96-94, 97-93, 97-93, and the capacity crowd of 5,100 plus didn't ever get that amped up. The announcers were way too kind, to Berlanga and to Rolls, who mostly ran.
After the fight, the 19-0 Edgar Berlanga said to Bernard Osuna that Rolls fought “scared.” The 24 year old work in progress admitted his left elbow bothered him, starting in round two. And he's coming off a torn bicep last year, so he's having to battle various elements which can make getting to the next level that much harder….
”I started seeing blurry in the left eye,” Berlanga admitted, a bit later to Osuna. And then, after he spoke, analyst Tim Bradley brought the hammer, actually both of them, down on the New Yorker.
Rolls, now 24-2, took it to GGG when they fought four years ago, testing the Kazakh a bit, but against Berlanga more so just ran. I Tweeted out that Rolls doesn't desetve excess congratulations, because he just came to survive, go the distance, it felt like. He didn't try hard to win, and all the paying customers deserved better from him. Bradley after the decision said that Berlanga shouldn't be known as “The Chosen One” but instead, “The Phony One.” Hard, hard ouchie.
The winning fighter said that it's OK to hear the various voices in his corner, by the way, when Osuna gently probed regarding the crowded corner, with Andre Rozier, Kay Koroma, and now Mickey Bey part of Team Berlanga. The announce crew did indeed note during the show that it seemed like maybe there are too many cooks in that kitchen.
In the first, the 24 year old Edgar Berlanga, repping Puerto Rico, Brooklyn, and the Lower East Side of Manhattan, fired some decent jabs. Rolls, 37, knows he’s 37. He didn’t do much more than shuffle and then more. You knew Berlanga would open it up more the next round.
In the second, Berlanga did show a bit less respectful patience. Kay Koroma and head trainer Andre Rozier watched as the kid didn’t come out nuts. But, didn’t he actually really want to come out fierce and fast?
Then, in the second, we saw blood on the left eye of Berlanga. And Rolls kept it to a pace he enjoyed. He’d feint, and slip and slide and act a bit happy that he didn’t have to crawl through glass.
In the third, would Edgar Berlanga press harder? We’d think so. But he plodded, largely, round after round. He’d stalk, Rolls would slide to his right. And the same pattern played out.
Each round looked looked like the one before, and the loser didn’t try to win, basically. Survive, yes, but who wants to watch that, it’s like watching people hunt? In the tenth, neither could summon extra fuel, really. We went to the cards, in a pretty darned ordinary bout.
It never achieved liftoff, and yes, hard questions SHOULD be asked within the sphere of Team Berlanga and company. Manager Keith Connolly, what does he have on his hands? The fighter himself, how does he look you in this photo by Mikey Williams?
Like he is master of his domain, and is THE ONE to watch at 168?
That's a rhetorical question, ideally Edgar Berlanga gets asked and queries himself in more direct terms. He seems to be caught in an identity crisis, as he's moved up and found that he can be toppled, and that his power may not be as he advertised to himself in his head, and his posse told him.
Will he have some reckoning time, and decide he needs to re set some priorities, and stop focusing so much on the goodies that come with fame, and more so on the craft? We shall see.