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Boxing Update: Berlanga, Benavidez, And Mega Fight

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

NEW YORK– Edgar Berlanga continues to train in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the super middleweight is without a promoter as he awaits his next opportunity in a division that is dominated by unified champion Canelo Alvarez. Also top rated David Benavidez has an upcoming fight in March with Caleb Plant, televised March 25th on Showtime Pay-Per-View and a win could get him a long awaited fight with Alvarez for the titles.

Berlanga, though, who debuted his career with an impressive 16 fight knockout record, will enter the ring for his next fight with a new promoter as this week he parted ways with Top Rank Boxing.

Just a few years back, Berlanga was a hot commodity on the Top Rank Boxing ESPN telecast platform, a ratings bonanza as fans anticipated the next knockout with his devastating punch. He was an upcoming and young Top Rank Boxing prospect that had the marketing appeal and developed a popular base of fans.

The popularity extended to a fan base in New York City and in Puerto Rico as Berlanga was destined to move up the ranks with a goal to oppose Benavidez and other elite fighters in the division. A fight with Alvarez was still a few years away, assuming of course that Berlanga would continue to get the knockouts and wins.

Marketing and developing a fighter are strong assets of signing a promotional deal with Top Rank, thus Berlanga was in good hands and in the proper direction. And when a fighter has a tendency to knock out opponents, especially with the ratio Berlanga had, there was every reason to understand the market was all good for bigger fights.

Berlanga also has a good presence inside the ring and with a social media following, a plus for fighters that adds to their appeal, he and Top Rank were a combination. ESPN was also instrumental in promoting his knockout punch and that also added to the appeal and popularity of a rising superstar.

Berlanga would eventually and suddenly see his knockout streak stopped in April of 2021, an ESPN televised fight that went to the scorecards with an eight-round unanimous decision win over Desmond Nicholason. His last three fights have also gone the distance with 10-round unanimous decisions.

He is also a good ticket seller and that will help his cause as a free agent in search of a new promoter. Berlanga sold out his last two fights at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, including a win over Roamer Angulo in June, that witnessed him biting his opponent and resulting in a six-month suspension.

Though that was not a great Edgar Berlanger performance in the ring, and after the knockout streak concluded he could still throw a devastating punch, but with many questions. The question is, does Edgar Berlanga have the power and ability to overtake Alvarez or Benavidez if the opportunity was presented?

Top Rank is no longer in the picture and any of the other major promotions, that being the PBC or Matchroom could grab him as they also have streaming network and television deals with SHOWTIME, FOX Sports and DAZN. Top Rank wished him luck and Berlanga said whatever differences they had could not be worked out.

But in a majority of these contract circumstances with fighters and promoters the differences revolve around money and how much, though this is pure speculation as no official word has been leaked about the differences.

One difference could have been Berlanga not pleased with the direction of his career and looking to meet a top-10 fighter in the division, though Top Rank has always been cautious and patient in developing a young fighter for a title opportunity.

The 25-year-old Berlanga, in comments to ESPN said “I want to thank Top Rank, Bob Arum and ESPN for the last few years. I’m excited for the future and will be waiting for my manager to tell me what the next move is. I’ve set a goal for myself to sell out the big room at MSG (Madison Square Garden) and throw the biggest party in the Garden that Puerto Rican fans have ever seen.”

Now Berlanga awaits that opportunity to fight in the big room with another promoter but the wait may be a little longer than expected.

BENAVIDEZ HAS A DATE: It was reported this week (Credit to ESPN Mike Coppinger) Benavidez and Plant will meet at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas March 25 and televised on Showtime Boxing PPV.

The super middleweight fight (168) of the former title holders is significant for Benavidez, not to say that a Plant win won’t. But Plant lost his portion of the 168-pound titles to Alvarez and could always get a rematch and regain what he lost.

But for Benavidez, probably the best puncher in the division, this could be his only and anticipated opportunity to meet Alvarez and win all the belts. There has been talk over the past two years about Benavidez and Alvarez meeting in a mega fight.

Image Credit: Showtime Boxing

However those obstacles of a sport always intervenes and Alvarez, considered the face of boxing, went in another direction last year in attempts to become a two-time light heavyweight champion and lost a lackluster 12-round unanimous decision to the champion Dmitri Bivol.

Regardless, Benavidez and Plant set up a mega fight with those implications. Plant can also jab with power and speed, probably, though, not as strong as a punch coming from Benavidez….

GARCIA AND DAVIS UPDATE: The contracts have been delivered and now fans will await the hopeful April 15 encounter in Las Vegas as Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis, two of the young superstars will finally clash.

Davis is in that discussion as the top pound-for-pound fighter, also two weeks ago successfully defending his WBA portion of the lightweight division where all of the titles belong to Devin Haney, another of the young superstars in the sport.

But Davis will have to work inside when they get in the ring, and despite his power, Garcia will have a significant height advantage, This is a fight fans asked for, one both fighters have been going back-and-forth with the past year and the potential mega fight of the year.

Image Credit: DAZN

The contracts have been delivered. The particulars of purse strings and who gets the televised pay-per-view rights and distribution will then come. Hey, this is boxing and we can wait out those particulars.

Then again, this is boxing and anything can happen between now and then.

Rich Mancuso is the senior writer and co editor Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening live 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube

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