The knockout streak ended, the unbeaten run did not. So what next for 17-0(16) super-middleweight contender/superstar in the making Edgar Berlanga? Last night, against veteran Demond Nicholson, the Puerto Rican bomber had to go further than ever before in a fight – all eight rounds. Berlanga scored four knockdowns, his most punishing one in the final round, yet he was unable to get Nicholson, 23-4-1(20) out of there, instead having to make do with a wide unanimous decision win.
We got a few questions answered in last night’s fight: we know Berlanga can carry his power into the later rounds, we know he can take a decent shot to the head, with Nicholson tagging Berlanga a couple of times, and we know the 23 year old has good stamina (albeit in a largely one-sided fight). We also know, as Berlanga knows himself, that there is more work to be done, more experience to be gained before Berlanga is ready for the top names at 168 pounds.
Berlanga is scheduled to return in June, at Madison Square Garden, to fight on The Puerto Rican Day Parade, and one name that has been mentioned is Jesse Hart. This would be a bigger step up yet for Berlanga. Hart, who actually managed to do something Berlanga could not do last night, and that’s stop Nicholson (in the 7th round back in 2018), is a big guy and the Philadelphian has a ton of pro experience; having twice challenged for a world title at super-middleweight.
Hart last boxed up at light-heavyweight, when he dropped a split decision to Joe Smith Jr, this in January of 2020, so he would have to drop back down a few pounds to fight Berlanga. But this is a great match-up, for both men. It would/will be very interesting to see what would happen if Hart, 26-2 with 21 KO’s, managed to connect on Berlanga’s chin.
Needless to say, a stoppage win for Berlanga would be hugely impressive, Hart never having been stopped. Berlanga is still on track for all the massive things Bob Arum and others have planned for him. As the saying goes, you can’t knock ’em all out.