In the sport of boxing, there have been some great fighters that either were born in Puerto Rico or were from Puerto Rican descent that made a significant impact to the sport. Some of those notable fighters include names like Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfred Benitez and Hector “Macho” Camacho.
Every year in New York, the Puerto Rican day parade is one of the most celebrated events in the city, drawing millions of people for the parade itself and supporting festivities. In recent years, guys like the great Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto have fought on that weekend, which transformed them into polarizing figures not only in the boxing world but amongst the Latin community around the world.
It’s no secret that boxing is looking for the next great Puerto Rican fighter to take the torch and that fighter may very well be 23-year-old Edgar Berlanga (14-0) out of Brooklyn, NY.
Edgar is a strong super middleweight fighter who has stepped into the ring fourteen times and has knocked out every opponent in the first round. That in itself is extremely impressive but since his story, given the Steve Kim treatment, debuted on ESPN a few weeks back followed by a first-round knockout…
— Edgar Berlanga Jr (@EdgarBerlangaJr) July 22, 2020
..Berlanga has seen an uptick of attention and momentum.
With all of the exciting things he is doing inside of the ring, it’s important that fans get to know Edgar Berlanga the person, so I reached out for an interview and he made the time. Here is the man they call “The Chosen One,” Edgar Berlanga.
AG: Edgar, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I like to start off by giving the readers a quick bio blast so that they understand who you are as a person. Can you tell the readers where you are from and what it was like growing up?
EB: I grew up Lower East Side in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. My mother and father are both Puerto Rican and I have four siblings, two sisters and two brothers. I started boxing at the age of seven so I didn’t really have a childhood like that. My childhood was staying in the gym and being focused while staying out of the streets. I’m tight with my family as I am the second youngest right now, with my little brother being six years old. Growing up, I was the youngest so I was the baby and my older siblings kept me in line and kept me straight.
AG: Which fight or fighter did you see live or on tv that made you say to yourself, “That’s what I want to do professionally?”
EB: Trinidad! I saw him on tv when I was about two or three years old. From Trinidad, I obviously went on to Cotto who I saw live at the Madison Square Garden which took me to another level as a kid wanting to be one of the great Puerto Rican fighters.
AG: How was your experience in the amateurs and did you face anyone that has become a name in the sport?
EB: I faced guys like Alexis Rocha and Charles Conwell. I received the best experience during my time as an amateur. During the amateurs, I was an eight time national champion.
AG: You’ve stayed pretty consistent with fighting three times a year with the exception of last year where you fought four times. Was that by design or based on opponent availability?
EB: This year we are trying to get in at least three fights. We like to get in four fights a year and if that can’t happen this year, then we will aim for four fights next year.
AG: In your 12th pro fight, you had hip hop artist and entrepreneur Fat Joe walk you out to the ring. He is a huge name in NYC. I’m curious to know how that relationship, and the one with music executive Shawn Pecas, developed?
EB: I have a lot of big guys behind me. I have Shawn Pecas, Fat Joe, Tracy Morgan and a host of celebrities that are backing me up now and it’s a blessing. In regards to how I met Shawn, he and my mom grew up together in Douglas Projects in Manhattan. Shawn used to stay in my grandmother’s house, she lived in Douglas Projects over 40 years, and she used to feed him and give him clothes. I met Shawn at a big concert that I attended with my mother at the Barclays. I spotted Shawn and my mother grabbed him and he hugged her and told her that he would help me. He kept his word and had a meeting with my mom and dad and it was sky’s the limit from there. The Fat Joe friendship came from him hearing about me from guys out in Puerto Rico and my dad’s friend who has a big music label down in Miami. When Joe found out that I was close with Shawn, it brought us even closer.
AG: When you are not in the gym or in camp, what are some things you personally like to do?
EB: I like to do family activities and go out to eat at restaurants. I also like to be around my family and my girl. I just came back from a two day vacation at a resort in Jersey with my brothers and sisters. I’m a very family oriented person. I know eventually I will get into different things when I get more time off of boxing. I want to get into movies, acting and Tracy Morgan is going to help me with that. Sky’s the limit.
AG: You recently mentioned that in 18 months, you will be ready for Canelo. Leading up to that, are there any fighters in the top 10 that you would like to face?
EB: In two years, I really believe I am going to be in the ring with him. I really want to prove myself as that is the only way I will be able to get the opportunity. I have to step up a little more, beat the odds and when the time is right, I know it’s going to happen. I have a big fan base given that I only have 14 fights. I bring in so many people and have celebrities behind me so I can only imagine how it’s going to be when I am 25-0. I just want to fight the best so that I can be the best.
AG: I saw a post on Instagram that you were sparring with Sergey Derevyanchenko. Is that that the type of work you look forward to given that he has fought some of boxing’s best?
EB: That’s a guy that has really help me and elevated my career. He has helped me a lot as he has that crazy experience and he is passing all that off to me. I’m blessed to say that I was in the ring with him as he is a top level fighter.
AG: Do you know more or less when we should expect to see you back in the ring?
EB: I had somewhat of a little injury and I’m taking off two weeks from the gym. I don’t want hit to anything right now so I’m looking at October.
AG: Is there anything you want to tell the fans who are going to watch your next fight? Also, where can they follow you on social media and get some of your merchandise?
EB: I want to give a shout out to all of my fans out there! My true supporters out there, keep supporting me and I will keep fighting for you. A huge shoutout to all of my Latin fans around the world and not just in my island but all Latin countries around the world. I’m here for everyone and I’m the people’s champ so just tune in! You can follow me on Twitter @EdgarBerlangaJr, Instagram @realedgarberlanga and purchase merchandise teamberlanga.shop.
My Three Cents: Edgar Berlanga has everything you would want to have in a future super-star: looks, skills and a great personality. He has surrounded himself with a smart team that has been able to expose those things to the public early while Edgar matches that with his first-round knockouts. I certainly believe that he is going to be a name in the sport as early as next year. It’s going to be interesting to see how Top Rank matches him in 2021 as he is going to be knocking on the door of those top ten fighters. If you are not following this young fighter, make sure you place him on your radar immediately.
Read more from Abe and his Prospect Watch series here.