Edgar Berlanga on Saturday fights Jason Quigley hoping victory will secure a date with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
That negotiations for a rematch in September between Alvarez and Dmitrii Bivol have been so troubled is contributing to both Alvarez and Bivol considering alternatives. Matchroom hope that a resolution can yet be reached, but could soon be confronted with having to prioritise other opponents.
Berlanga fighting for the first time on Saturday as a Matchroom fighter – at the theatre at Madison Square Garden – makes him a candidate to challenge Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight title, but he is aware that he will need to win convincingly if he is to be considered capable of posing the Mexican a threat.
He revealed that when he was negotiating promotional terms with them Eddie Hearn spoke of the potential of him challenging the world’s highest-profile fighter, and asked of the possibility of doing so, he said: “That’s the main goal for anybody in the 168lbs division. A top dog wants the king; he has all the titles, so who wouldn’t want to fight him?
“That’s something that’s on the horizon, but I gotta handle business. I gotta destroy Quigley; I gotta look the best I’ve ever looked in my career to make that statement.
“It was spoken about with Matchroom. ‘This is the fight that could possibly happen.’ Win impressively; win big. Focus on the 24th; destroy this guy; look good; perform to my best ability to show out. Then we’ll be talking up that fight.
“It could be my next fight. Eddie [Hearn] didn’t say, ‘Oh, this is gonna be your next fight’, but it’s going around that Canelo and [Dmitrii] Bivol’s fight isn’t happening, David Benavidez is up in the air; him and [Jermall] Charlo’s up in the air; so, people are looking around, wondering who he could fight next.
“‘Oh shit, Berlanga – Berlanga’s fighting the 24th. Oh, Berlanga’s Puerto Rican. Oh, he’s from New York. Oh, he’s gonna be 21-0. Okay, this is something that could happen. He’s with the same promoter’. It’s easy.”
The American, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was then asked about the wisdom of Alvarez pursuing the rematch with Bivol given he lost so convincingly to him in May 2022, and he responded: “He’s crazy. I don’t think that was gonna happen at all. [Bivol] wanted him to come to 168; to fight for all the titles at 168. Canelo wanted to go up to 175 – this dude’s a giant at 175.
“I don’t think he can win [a rematch at 175lbs]. If Bivol drops to 168lbs I think it’ll be a different outcome, for sure. If Canelo goes back to who he was, I think there’s a possibility [he can win at 168lbs].
“He did good [in May, when beating John Ryder]. Y’know, he broke John Ryder down. I mean, you seen his face – he was all bloody. If John Ryder would’ve pushed a little bit more, I think Canelo would’ve still won. I think Canelo did his thing.
“Possibly [he’s in decline]. I seen a little bit of it with Ryder – I just feel like right now, he’s still a king at 168, so everybody’s gonna look at him. He can’t always look that good. Next fight he’ll probably jump back into who he was a year ago; two years ago.”