Berlanga Scores First KO Since 2020 To Put Himself In Canelo Sweepstakes

For the first time in five fights and more than three years, Edgar Berlanga scored a knockout. Whether his sixth-round stoppage of Padraig McCrory is sufficient to put him ahead of David Benavidez, Jaime Munguia or Jermall Charlo in the Canelo Alvarez sweepstakes is a different matter, but to hear both Berlanga and his promoter Eddie Hearn talk afterward, it would not be a surprise if the Puerto Rican were to get the call. 

It has been a curious career to this point for Berlanga (22-0, 17 KOs). He began with 16 straight stoppages and followed it with five consecutive distance wins and knew that going to the scorecards against McCrory would mark the end of whatever hope he might have of facing Alvarez. And yet, he came out for the first round showing so much patience that he barely threw a punch. There was scarcely any more action in the second either, which Berlanga insisted was intentional. 

“I wanted to see what I’m receiving,” he explained in the ring afterwrard. “I didn’t just want to be an offensive fighter. I want to work on my defensive side first.” 

Besides, Berlanga asserted, giving praise to his Belfast-born opponent, “People don’t understand, Irish mother******s are strong, and he came to fight.” 

McCrory (18-1, 9 KOs) certainly showed bravery and a willingness to fight throughout, but he simply didn’t have the tools to cope with Berlanga. It certainly didn’t help his cause when Berlanga threw a clearly intentional elbow to the Irishman's jaw in round three, or when he cracked him below the belt once or twice, but once the Puerto Rican got into his groove in the fourth, it felt as if the ending was only a matter of time. 

A hook and follow-up right hand in the fourth had McCrory hurt as Berlanga stalked him around the ring, and more right hands had McCrory retreating in the fifth. Berlanga was not helping his cause by throwing one punch at a time, even when the Irishman was notably wilting, but like an orca smacking around a baby seal, “The Chosen One” was softening up his prey until he was ready to finish him off.  

That opportunity came in the sixth. Berlanga opened up, driving McCrory backward, and although the Irishman sought to fight off the ropes, he left an opening for Berlanga to land more bludgeoning right hands. As McCrory missed with an uppercut, Berlanga launched a right cross that detonated on McCrory’s jaw, sending him sliding down along the ropes and to the canvas. He made it to his knees by seven, but would make it no further, his corner throwing in the towel as referee Christopher Young completed his count. 

“It feels amazing,” said Berlanga when asked how important it was for him to add another KO to his ledger. Asked whether he was ready to fight Alvarez in May, he unhesitatingly replied, “1000 percent.” 

Hearn was fractionally more equivocal.  

“It’s only a matter of time,” he asserted. “Maybe there is one more [fight for Berlanga in the interim], but if the call came, he wouldn’t back down. I believe you’ll see Canelo against Berlanga this year, in May or September.”