June 13, 2024

By: Lydia Smith
(Punchline Correspondent)

In Saturday night’s victory over Jason Quigley, Edgar Berlanga’s improvements were good enough for the win. But were they good enough to reverse the public opinion of his fading hype?

Betting odds seemed to expect Berlanga, -1300, to KO Quigley, +700, in the style of his first 16 fights. Yet the closest Berlanga got to a KO was in the couple minutes of the 12th round.

Not to say this was the same Berlanga we’ve seen in his last four fights. In round 1, Berlanga came out like a different fighter. Disciplined and lithe, his movement and footwork which used to be mostly linear, had morphed into a feline predator’s with head feints, pawing jabs, side-slipping. Berlanga’s heavy hands and speed combined with these new skills easily overmatched Quigley in the early rounds. Quigley was knocked down in rounds 3 and 5. The round 5 knockdown was more of a trip, but as it was preceded by a punch referee Harvey Dock called it a knockdown.

In round 5, Berlanga seemed to smell blood in the water and seemed to reset from his new skills to the Berlanga of previous fights.  His instincts focused on throwing hooks and uppercuts to Quigley’s head,missing opportunities to the body with Quigley’s wide and high arms. By round 8, Berlanga’s pawing jabs had no follow up and seemingly no strategy behind them. He seemed solely focused on getting that knockout.  Things got interesting in the later rounds as Quigley rose to a brave final stand using heart, skill and strategy to stay upright against Berlanga’s punishing punches.

In the end, Berlanga had a strong rally to finish the show and scored two knockdowns in the twelfth round.Berlanga was the more damaging fighter and easily won a unanimous decision with scores of 118-106 and 116-108 (twice).

Berlanga’s performance was a vast improvement in the earlier rounds. But the deep groove to chase the knockout,that is baked into his instincts, took over and limited his performance. In Berlanga’s post-fight comments seemed to recognize that his ring mindset may not be serving him well anymore.

What can Berlanga do to recapture the hype? Here’s my 2 cents. First and foremost, surrender that the boxer that won the hype cannot be the same boxer to reach Canelo and win. Then perhaps, train defense only, no offense work at all until Berlanga becomes intimately familiar with his own reflection in the ring. Edgar has never been on the other side of his relentless attacks. If he built up his boxing DNA with a physical understanding of his opponents’ perspectives, could that be the key to unlocking his full potential within himself? Edgar is still growing and it is an exciting time to see what kind of boxer he grows into, or not. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Punchline would like to welcome Lydia Smith as its latest correspondent. Lydia lives in Austin, TX and will be covering the growing Texas boxing scene along with her perspective writings. Lydia fell in love with boxing at King’s Boxing Gym in the late 90’s. Boxing is her “moveable feast” she carries with her anywhere she goes. She has a fierce little girl with the love of her life. 

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