Top Rank promoter Bob Arum targets a future fight between his young knockout phenom Edgar Berlanga against Canelo Alvarez at 168. Arum would like to make that fight, which he feels would do big business in fan interest.
The unbeaten 23-year-old Berlanga (16-0, 16 KOs) has knocked out all 16 of his opponents in the first round since he turned professional in 2016, and he’s closing in on the record of 21 straight first-round knockouts.
Before Arum puts the hard-punching New Yorker Berlanga in with Canelo (54-1-2, 36 KOs), he wants to get him some experience in fights that go beyond the first round.
The problem that Arum is having is Berlanga keeps knocking everybody out right away in the first round, and he’s putting him in with experienced guys.
On paper, Berlanga shouldn’t be knocking these guys out in the first round, but he keeps doing it because of his heavy hands. Canelo hasn’t fought anyone with the kind of power that Berlanga possesses as a pro, and it would be interesting to see how well he handles that kind of strength.
In Canelo’s last fight against former WBA super-middleweight champion Callum Smith last Saturday, he did an excellent job of riding with the punches from the big 6’3″ Brit.
However, Smith didn’t show the kind of power that Berlanga possesses, and he looked weight drained and not the same guy that had knocked out Geroge Groves in the seventh round in 2018.
Arum targeting Berlanga vs. Canelo
“Nobody can believe Berlanga,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to IFL TV on his young super middleweight KO artist Edgar Berlanga. “Where do you get a fighter.
“We keep putting him in with guys that haven’t been knocked down, guys who are experienced and he wipes them out in one round. It’s almost like when Mike Tyson started, you know? The fighters were beaten before the bell rang.
“Here, Berlanga has tremendous pop on his punches. I mean, in my dreams, I look to do the really big fights, and I think a tremendous fight down the line is Canelo Alvarez against Berlanga,” said Arum.
It might take two or three years before Arum will get a chance to make a fight between Berlanga and Canelo Alvarez, as there are a lot of fighters ahead of the Puerto Rican talent waiting to take on the superstar Mexican.
Before Berlanga can get a chance to fight Canelo, he would likely need to prove himself against some of the other top 168-pounders like Caleb Plant, David Benavidez, Billy Joe Saunders, Daniel Jacobs, and Demetrius Andrade. It won’t be easy for Arum to set these fights up because Berlanga is too dangerous.
Also, he doesn’t have the huge popularity right now that Canelo had when he was coming up the ranks earlier in his career.
Canelo was highly popular from day one, which made it easy for his former promoters at Golden Boy Promotions to set-up fights against Shane Mosley, Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Austin Trout, and Erislandy Lara.
Berlanga doesn’t have that built-in popularity that Canelo had early on, so it might be difficult for Arum to get the fights he needs to make a name of Edgar for him to get the fights he needs.
Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry
“Here on our side of the water, a Mexican against a Puerto Rican is the biggest rivalry,” said Arum. “We had [Felix] Trinidad against Oscar De La Hoya was a huge fight. [Julio Cesar] Chavez vs. [Edwin] Rosario was a major fight.
“They’re all major fights, Mexican vs. Puerto Rican. Yeah, that’s right [Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo], but Cotto was a little towards the end of his career [when he fought Canelo].
“But yeah, Mexican-Puerto Rican is a great rivalry. They’re both ethnic groups, Mexican Americans and Puerto Ricans, they live on the Island or in the United States.
“It’s a big, big fight. So when you have the clash, you’re going to get great, great results at the box office on pay-per-view,” said Arum.
Certainly, Canelo vs. Berlanga will draw on the Mexican and Puerto Rican fans when the time comes for this fight to get made. Hopefully, Canelo doesn’t shy away from fighting Berlanga in three to four years.
By that time, Canelo will be in his mid-30s, and he probably won’t be at the level he’s at right now. He’s one of those guys that uses his speed and reflexes to win fights.
Once Canelo starts losing those things, he could be another Roy Jones Jr and be food for Berlanga. Canelo is obviously too proud to stay in the sport when he starts slipping in a few years, so it’s highly questionable whether he’ll ever agree to fight a dangerous puncher like Berlanga.
The way that Berlanga has looked in his recent fights, he’s considerably better than what we saw from Callum Smith last Saturday.
Smith looked drained and fought like he had no sense at all in going to the ropes repeatedly throughout the contest. Although Berlanga doesn’t have a lot of experience, he’s smart to know better than to fight with his back against the ropes against Canelo.
Callum hadn’t proved himself against quality fighters before he fought Canelo, and he has been over-hyped based on his win over a shot to pieces Groves in 2018.
Groves was coming off shoulder surgery when he fought Callum, and he was no longer able to use his left hand like he had before he injured his shoulder against Chris Eubank Jr in 2017 in the World Boxing Super Series tournament.
Berlanga needs more experience first
“So again, but you can’t put Berlanga in with Canelo Alvarez because you don’t know what’s going to happen after the first round,” Arum continued.
“You got to have him [Berlanga] at least fight some rounds before you can even mention a Canelo Alvarez fight,” said Arum.
The experience that Berlanga needs to get him ready for a fight against Canelo will take a long time, and it may be too late by the time he is ready to step up.
If Canelo is starting to slip in three or four years, it’s doubtful he’ll want any part of fighting Berlanga, especially if he’s still knocking everybody out in the first round.
You’d like to think that Canelo would take the fight with Berlanga, but history shows that it won’t happen. For example, when Canelo was at 175, he chose the depleted Sergey Kovalev rather than the top guy Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs). It’s obviously not an accident that Canelo chose not to fight Beterbiev.
When Canelo has gone after belts at 168, he’s chosen Rocky Fielding and Callum Smith, two very, very average fighters. Canelo didn’t fight David Benavidez when he held the WBC strap.