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Did Berlanga Make A Statement?

Image Credit: Matchroom Boxing

NEW YORK — Saturday evening Edgar Berlanga at the Madison Square Garden Hulu Theatre made a statement with a successful 12-round unanimous decision win over Jason Quigley (20-3, 14 KO’s) the 32-year old from Ireland.

Berlanga, (21-0, 16 KO’s) has a 86 percent knockout ratio, In boxing a ratio like that becomes instant stardom. And there is no denying, Berlanga is a fan favorite at the sold-out theater but he needed this win to make a statement.

In his first of a three-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing and streaming network DAZN, Berlanga dropped Quigley in round three and two times in the 12th, perhaps where he wanted to make his statement. Judges at ringside had Berlanga 116-108 twice, and 118-108, (my scorecard).

After opening his career with 16 straight knockouts, Berlanga lost that streak.He sustained a torn bicep and became a coveted free agent after leaving Top Rank Boxing and ESPN as he looked for a championship opportunity.

The Brooklyn native Puerto Rican, Berlanga, is vying for a title opportunity against Mexican Canelo Alvarez who holds the distinction of owning the unified super middleweight titles (168). Alvarez is also considered to many the face of boxing.

So this was a return that Berlanga needed. He looked good, connected with his punches, and the four knockdowns made a statement. Perhaps, though, Berlanga is not ready for Alvarez or the undefeated Mexican-American David Benavidez.

“The last round is how we’re going to start every round from now on,” Berlanga stated in the ring after his win. “I was just leaning back using my jab just trying to catch distance.”

He was referring to a slow start. Quigley was able to land punches early, Berlanga, known for throwing power punches, kept his distance. It came down to listening to his corner and he outlanded Quigley by a wide margin.

Here are the final CompuBox numbers:

“I’m going to fight the best now,” Berlanga said. “I just feel like it’s that time.” But the consensus is Berlanga has a few more fights to prove he deserves that opportunity.

THE SHOWTIME CARD: Of course there had to be a Saturday evening conflict as Showtime Championship Boxing showcased fighters at a crossroads as to what is next.

Middleweight Carlos Adames (Dominican Republic) retained his Interim WBC Middleweight Title with a ninth-round stoppage of former unified world champion Julian “J-Rock” Williams in the main event of action from The Armory in Minneapolis in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Adames vs Williams

“I’m so thankful to everyone who came out here and gave me support today and all week,” said Adames. “We gave the fans a great fight and I accomplished my goal, which was walking out of here with the title.”

The early rounds saw good back and forth action, as Adames (23-1, 18 KOs) appeared to wobble Williams (28-4-1, 16 KOs) in round two, forcing Williams to hold on and survive the rest of the round. After Adames opened up a cut under Williams’ right eye in round three, Williams showed his championship pedigree in rebounding to land several big power shots and control most of the round.

Adames vs Williams

The tide turned again in round four, with Adames landing a series of power shots that again had Williams hurt against the ropes and hoping to hold and keep Adames off him. The fight settled in after the fourth, with both fighters having their moments through the middle frames.

“I really don’t know how he survived the fourth round, but he’s a veteran,” said Adames. “He’s got skills and that’s what got him through that round.”

“I just stayed calm,” said Williams about the fourth round. “I knew he was trying to finish me. I knew he was throwing punches, but I think I won the next couple of rounds after that.”

Adames broke through once again in round nine, upping his activity again and staggering Williams with a series of power shots. Williams showed his consummate ring IQ and grit by doing everything he could to keep Adames from delivering a decisive blow, however referee Mark Nelson stepped in and called an end to the fight 2:45 into the round.

“When I came with those two rights, that’s when the referee stopped it,” said Adames. “If I would’ve hit him with another one, he probably would’ve gotten really hurt.”

Williams disagreed with the stoppage and expressed his displeasure in the ring post fight.

“I think it was a terrible stoppage, but what can I do?” said Williams. “I’m healthy and I feel fine. I thought it was pretty much even and I was taking over while he was getting tired. Of course I want a rematch. It’s not his fault that the ref jumped in early. It looked corny. It looked bad. It was a great fight, I thought it was an even fight, and he jumps in and stops it because I got a little bit buzzed. It’s boxing.”

At the time of the stoppage, Adames led on all three cards by scores 80-72, 78-74 and 77-74. The overall punch stats were close according to CompuBox, with Adames’ biggest advantage coming in a 64-27 edge on body shots that helped break his opponent down.

In the co-main event, super welterweight contender Erickson “Hammer” Lubin (25-2, 18 KOs) dropped and stopped Luis “Cuba” Arias (20-4-1, 9 KOs) in the fifth-round of their scheduled 10-round showdown.

Erickson Lubin vs Luis Arias

Lubin, who was returning to the ring for the first time since losing to Sebastian Fundora (Mexican-American) in a 2022 Fight of the Year, was the cleaner puncher throughout the five rounds, consistently landing a variety of shots.

“I felt like I was landing my shots pretty well,” said Lubin, “He was a lot slower than I was and I was able to see everything he had coming. I felt good. I’ve been in the gym since my Fundora loss and I’m ready for them all.”

In the telecast opener, undefeated 115-pound world champion Fernando “Puma” Martinez (16-0, 9 KOs, (Avellanede, Argentina) delivered a dominating performance to defend his IBF title by 11th round TKO over the previously unbeaten Jade Bornea (18-1, 12 KOs).

Fernando Martinez vs Jade Bornea

“I said before the fight that the tougher, stronger fighter was going to win and that was me,” said Martinez.

Martinez, who is promoted by fellow Argentine and former two-division champion Marcos Maidana, used an aggressive, blitzing style to batter the Filipino challenger on his way to his second successful world title defense. A steady diet of hooks caused a large welt to form on Bornea’s left cheek early in the fight, with the accumulation of punches eventually causing Bornea to bleed badly from his right ear.

“I definitely saw the injury in the ear,” said Martinez. “The inflammation was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I hit him with a left and it popped, exploded. I even told the referee to be cautious, I think he’s really hurt. That’s when I just kept going at the ear and trying to finish this fight.”

Rich Mancuso: senior writer Twitter@Ring786 Mancuso.

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