Edgar Berlanga went the distance for the third straight fight in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,158 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden Saturday night. He edged Steve Rolls to remain undefeated at 19-0.
As Michael Woods wrote about the contest, I'll echo louder for those in the back. “Each round looked like the one before, and the loser didn't try to win.” The final scorecards favored Berlanga 97-93 x2 and one at 96-64.
However, at the end of the night, we ALL called it boring.
Thirty minutes of indifferent, main event sparring played out in the ring like waiting on hold for the next available representative. “Your call is very important to us. Just stay on the line with this trash music loop we got for free. We'll repeat this every 60 seconds.” That wasn't much different than staying up past around 1 a.m New York time to watch this. Had the ring ropes not broken before ESPN's opening bout, and maybe if college wrestling was the latest sporting event to start the delay of boxing card, perhaps it would've ended at 12:58 a.m. instead. Just maybe.
I wish I were lying, but when the biggest crowd reaction in this fight was when they announced Xander Zayas the winner over Quincy LaVallais the contest before, that's a problem. The only real moment of excitement in this fight was in the second round when Rolls slipped, and the crowd thought it was a knockdown.
The fight that the ESPN broadcast framed and what took place once the opening bell rang was the biggest takeaway I took from this latest effort from Berlanga. The build-up in this fight before was the vision of the 24-year-old Brooklyn native in his backyard, sending 37-year-old veteran Steve Rolls via knockout back to Toronto in front of a hometown crowd. I'm sure it would've made Sportscenter's Top 10 had that played out.
Steve Rolls had other ideas.
Rolls' gameplan was a fighter who was coming up in weight was not trying to get caught by anything insane from the hands of Berlanga. Mission accomplished as Rolls didn't expect that Berlanga didn't have a Plan B, which kept the fight at his pace. However, that pace in terms of action was the speeds that rivaled dial-up internet.
How do you know there was no Plan B for Berlanga? He said it himself post-fight.
“I was looking for a big shot. My corner was telling me use a jab. My elbow was bothering me a little bit. But I'm just happy we got the victory and moving forward,” Berlanga stated.
Steve Rolls. The Man Who Lost To Triple H.
Berlanga's frustration in the version of Rolls he got is understandable. Still, these are the learning lessons you get when you are up against the world-class competition to see where you stack up.
“That guy (Rolls) only lost to Triple H. He wasn't no bum in there.”, rapper and mentor to Berlanga, Fat Joe said exhaustedly late night walking out of Madison Square Garden post-fight. Give Joe a pass cause it was past everyone's bedtime, and it is Road to Wrestlemania season.
— Sean Zittel (@Sean_Zittel) March 20, 2022
“You could tell that he was fighting scared. Every time I reached in or threw something, he's pulling back, running the whole fight,” Berlanga said after the fight.”
Was Rolls fighting scared? I wouldn't go that far, but Rolls was fighting like someone who saw the Berlanga-Demond Nicholson fight. While Nicholson was knocked down four times in that fight, he had success when he got in his space and got out quickly, making Berlanga lunge to attack and counter. They call this the old cat and mouse game in boxing, and Rolls was a faster mouse, and Berlanga was a slower and hurt cat in this one which resulted in the action and lack thereof.
“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,” Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum said post-fight.
That next big night for Berlanga is June 11 at The Garden on Puerto Rican Parade Weekend. We'll see how he progresses from here, but the prospect who once touted a knockout streak is one of the heels of back-to-back, unimpressive nights out in the ring with more learning lessons to come.
You can follow Marquis Johns on Twitter @weaksauceradio .