It is unlikely we will see a super middleweight showdown between Diego Pacheco versus Edgar Berlanga next.
Pacheco, who stopped Marcelo Coceres in the ninth round on Saturday evening as the headliner of an L.A. homecoming for Pacheco. The elephant in the room was he stopped the man who dropped his rival, Edgar Berlanga, which seemingly sets the stage for a fight in 2024, right?
Yet, the reason why the fight will probably not happen is sadly the business of boxing. Berlanga, 26-years-old, came to fame with an incredible feat of sixteen first-round knockouts, this also came at a time during the COVID-19 pandemic when more casual interest and eyeballs were on the sport of boxing given the limited amount of options of stuff to do. This year Berlanga left his long-time promoter of Top Rank Inc. and signed with Matchroom Boxing - fighting only once. Given that Matchroom just allocated capital into Berlanga’s career the interesting bout between the two prizefighters would make a lot of sense from a purist’s standpoint but might be at least a fight or two away from a monetary standpoint, as the dreaded word ‘return on investment’ could come into play from a business perspective as it probably took a pretty penny for Berlanga to sign with Matchroom.
"I want Edgar Berlanga next after this fight. I think I knock him out cold," Pacheco said. “Same weight class, same promoter, you can ask Eddie [Hearn]. I have been telling him about that fight [with Berlanga]. That is what I am in this sport for, that is what I am here for to take the big fights and really get my name to being number one.”
“If you ask me I am ready for those fights,” said Pacheco during a media scrum after the bout. “Matchroom and DAZN are the best at building fighters and building superstars and whatever they think is the next move I will be ready.”
So realistically, Pacheco, 22-years-old, occupies an odd space as he is a top-ten super middleweight in a division that is extremely top-heavy, and all of the top fighters are no longer aligned with his promoter and network of Matchroom Boxing and DAZN. The division clearly has a hierarchy and right now Pacheco is battling to garner his respect amongst the best fighters in the division who are Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, David Benavidez (whom Pacheco trains with), Demetrius Andrade, David Morrell, and Caleb Plant. The second tier would see Diego Pacheco, Christian Mbilli, Vladimir Shishkin, William Scull, Ali Akhemdov, and John Ryder. So what could be next?
“I have to take those fights, and I feel like if you ask me, I’m ready for those fights,” said Pacheco
The fight that seems most reasonable at this point is Carlos Gongora, who has been a stern test only losing to the very best in the division. Gongora holds a 2020 twelfth-round knockout win over Ali Akhemdov and lost an uneventful decision to Lerrone Richards as well as was outworked by Christian Mbilli. That said, he is 4-2 in his last six fights with all of his wins coming by way of knockout. Gongora would answer questions about the defense of Pacheco, and despite being a southpaw offers some of the physical gifts of Berlanga as he is the same height as Berlanga at 6’1”, but with Berlanga having an inch reach advantage.
Another viable option is Vladimir Shishkin, who is promoted by Dmitry Salita, and Salita has been angling for a Canelo fight for years now. Shishkin is currently ranked number two in the division behind William Scull and is ranked number one by the IBF in super middleweight after his win over Evgeny Shvedenko. Scull has fought twice in the stay-busy fight as Canelo Alvarez has not been mandated to face Scull as of yet. Many have hypothesized that Scull and Shishkin could fight for the interim or mandatory spot for the IBF title, but nearly a year and a half later after Scull’s big win nothing has happened.
Shishkin is only fifteen fights into his career with an undefeated record, but time is not his friend as he is 32-years-old. If Shishkin wants a fight against a Canelo, Jaime Munguia, or seemingly any big-name fighter he’d have to fight Diego Pacheco and either look good in the fight or win, as it seems he is not yet able to land a big fight on his merit based on the high-risk and low-reward nature of taking a fight with him.
A final option could be Ali Akhemdov, a close friend and training partner of Gennadiy Golovkin, who hasn’t fought since Golovkin fought Canelo for the third time in September 2022 when he outpointed Gabriel Rosado. Given his connection to Golovkin, one of the best modern middleweights in the history of the sport, who made Los Angeles his home away from home. This could function as a serviceable main event in the L.A. market especially if the reclusive Golovkin might appear for the fight which could make it a thing.
Though it would be the best for the fans unless both fighters agree to face each other next the investment in fighters instead of fights themselves will more than likely make it so Pacheco versus Berlanga is not the next bout we see for either fighter.