Thoughts on Edgar Berlanga’s Win Over Steve Rolls From a New York Kid
Edgar Berlanga beat Steve Rolls by close unanimous decision and it really didn’t do it for me. I was there in person and basically the entire crowd was there to see Berlanga, but it seemed that even the incredibly pro-Berlanga crowd started to sour on this performance 4-5 rounds in, many of them vocalizing the frustration I was feeling.
I want to get on this bandwagon so badly. I grew up in New York going to see Miguel Cotto at the garden, and this was the closest thing to that feeling and that atmosphere that I’ve gotten since Cotto beat Sergio Martinez for the middleweight championship. Fights in New York City with the Nuyorican fanbase are as good as it gets. It seemed like all of the pieces were in place for this to be one of those nights.
But the reality is that Berlanga’s sixteen consecutive first round knockouts have prevented us from learning who he is as a fighter, and maybe its prevented him from learning about himself. He got used to a certain pattern; I hit them, they get buzzed, I follow up with a little something and that’s a wrap. So now, in his last two fights, we as fans are really just getting to see what kind of fighter he is. I exclude his fight with Demond Nicholson because he scored four knockdowns and his power was ultimately the deciding factor in the fight.
Against Marcelo Coceres, and now Rolls, what we are seeing a level of limitation that’s surprising after the dominance of his first seventeen fights. His jab is not consistent, though it looks good when he throws it, and he is relatively inactive unless the perfect opportunity presents itself. He pulls out of range if you throw at him as opposed to catching and shooting or using head and foot movement to create openings, and has now won razor thin decisions against fighters who have been stopped against the elite of the sport. Rolls used good movement and never let Berlanga set, but really didn’t throw a whole lot himself, making it that much more frustrating that Berlanga seemed unwilling or unable to press him in a more meaningful way. The good news is, Edgar is 24, not even really in his physical prime, and has plenty of time to learn and grow. But at the moment, he’s not there. Unfortunately, celebrities can’t fight for you, and being popular doesn’t make you a champion. The part that worries me a little is the lack of growth in his last two fights. It may be time for a change up, though I’m not sure what that is. Something to shock his system, make him uncomfortable. I’ll keep watching, but my expectations are very different; we are watching a developing young fighter, not somebody who is ready for the top ten, and that’s okay.