Super middleweight phenom Edgar Berlanga returns to the ring this Saturday (ESPN and ESPN+, 10 pm ET), coming in having started his career 16-0 with all 16 wins by first round stoppage.
The 23-year-old Berlanga will be taking on veteran Demond Nicholson (23-3-1, 20 KO), who can crack a bit himself does bring some potential danger. But the odds are really less about Berlanga getting upset right now than when someone eventually does see the second round.
Some feel the prospect isn’t being served well with these first round stoppages, but trainer Andre Rozier doesn’t see a problem with it:
“I work with my guys to be ring assassins. When you get somebody in trouble, it’s time for him to go. ... In the gym, I’m teaching all of the physical and mental aspects of boxing. And in the corner on fight night, I’m basically a calm, cool, collected individual administering the information. So if Edgar does go past the first round, it won’t be an issue.”
Berlanga will of course be taken past the first round sooner or later, likely sooner. The buzz he’s building is good for him and he’s clearly going to be a marketable fighter. He also never seems to be pressing for these knockouts; he has naturally very heavy hands and he’s shown good timing against limited to mediocre opposition.
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He passes the eye test in terms of his offensive arsenal. We don’t know how he responds to adversity. We don’t know, frankly, how well he takes a good shot in return.
All of that is what we’ll eventually find out, but the young man looks like a terrific prospect, and he’s someone Top Rank and ESPN obviously love having under their banners. Will Nicholson be the first to test him, or even hear the bell to start round two? We’ll see.