April 14, 2024

Sometimes a red-hot start to a career can backfire on a fighter. In the case of Edgar Berlanga, starting his career off with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts set expectations that were always going to be hard to live up to. Now, he enters a fight with Roamer Alexis Angulo on Saturday (11 p.m. ET, ESPN) on a run of three decision victories that have taken some of the shine off of Berlanga’s hype.

Berlanga’s (19-0, 16 KO) knockout streak tied the all-time record in boxing and set the expectation that he would be a vicious finisher who would continue making quick work of any and all opponents until he reached the world title level.

That streak broke against Demond Nicholson in a fight Berlanga dominated, but Nicholson proved to simply be too tough to go away. Then Marcelo Coceres and Steve Rolls both managed to take Berlanga the distance and everything about Berlanga’s skillset seemed to be in question.

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Berlanga’s biggest issues are his footwork and lack of a solid jab. Those two qualities are key for power punchers to set up their big shots as they move up through the sport’s ranks. That inability to cut off the ring or control distance allowed Coceres and Rolls to push Berlanga into competitive fights, with Coceres even putting Berlanga on the deck.

Angulo (27-2, 23 KO) is not going to be a light touch for Berlanga. He can punch well and has experience against high-level opponents. Sure, he was wiped out by David Benavidez and Zurdo Ramirez, but those were world championship fights, a level Berlanga has not yet proven capable of reaching.

Berlanga vs. Angulo fight card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

Edgar Berlanga -270

Roamer Alexis Angulo +220

Super middleweight

Henry Lebron

Luis Lebron

Super featherweight

Carlos Caraballo

Victor Santillan

Super bantamweight


It’s become trendy to write off Berlanga, which would be unfair were the issues just that he went three fights without scoring a knockout. The reality is, it’s the bigger things that are a problem. It’s the lack of a jab. It’s the bad footwork. It’s the inability to cut off a ring and impose his will on his opponents. Unless Berlanga fixes those issues, his ceiling is much lower than it seemed just a couple years ago.

So, is Angulo the man to exploit Berlanga’s issues? Maybe. There’s a reason Angulo is only a +220 underdog on a card designed to be a showcase for Puerto Rican. If Berlanga leaves himself open, Angulo can — and probably will — hurt him. Still, the reality is that Angulo probably isn’t going to be able to do much by marching forward and getting hit more than he hits Berlanga, which should be enough for the A-side to get the win in a close fight. Pick: Edgar Berlanga via UD

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