New York- Boxing Hall of Famers Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto always said a highlight of their career was main eventing a Top Rank Boxing card at Madison Square Garden the evening before New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Those events over the years in the main arena sold out. Cotto, the four division champion from Puerto Rico, set records at the gate because of his popularity as did Trinidad who held multiple championships in three weight classes.
Puerto Rican super middleweight contender Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga (19-0, 10 K0’s) may not be fighting in the Garden main arena Saturday night, but the atmosphere in the adjacent Hulu Theater will be no different from those days when Trinidad and Cotto had their fame on a special weekend of Puerto Rican pride.
In fact, Berlanga, who began his career with 16 consecutive knockouts, in the past year has been anticipating this event. Top Rank and the ESPN televised event is highlighted with an entire card of fighters representing Puerto Rico.
Berlanga, who has family in New York City and makes his residence in Las Vegas, is proud of the Puerto Rican heritage. Significantly, Trinidad and Cotto are boxing icons he knows well and they frequently meet in San Juan.
But this is also an important fight for Berlanga. He is capable of a quick knockout but that has not happened in his last four fights that have been decided either with a unanimous or split decision. Though the knockout is nice to have, getting the win and moving in the ranks of a tough 168-pound division are more important.
‘On June 11, I will give my Island a big win on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade,” Berlanga said this week. “ I am ready to win big for all my Boricuas. This is a dream come true for me. I’m very excited and can’t wait to get in the ring in Madison Square Garden, just like Tito and Cotto used to do. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, and it will not be easy, but I’m up for the task and I’m ready to do my own thing and put on a great show for all my people.”
And the task has been preparing to fight two-time world title challenger Alexis Anguelo (27-2, 23 K0s) in a 10-round main event Saturday.
“With this fight, I will set the tone and show everyone what I’m capable of,” Berlanga said. “I have to win big and I will. Get ready for some fireworks.I have been working very hard. I have been working on polishing all aspects of my game. You guys will see a real monster on June 11. A monster that has a lot of power, but also a monster that knows how to box and set things up. Don’t get me wrong, he (Anguelo) is a tough fighter and he will come to fight, but I will break him down.”
Thing is, if Anguelo comes to fight and wants to come to Berlanga, there will be fireworks. We have learned that Berlanga has a powerful punch and if he gets hit an arsenal of punches comes right back and that aggression will show early signs of a quick stoppage.
Regardless, a win is significant in New York City. It’s the Garden on a special weekend for boxing and the pride of Puerto Rico. More so, Berlanga is persistent about making a statement about contending for a title at super middleweight. The division has talent and Canelo Alvarez holds the unified and undisputed titles.
He set up a training camp in Puerto Rico. That was his preference to avoid distractions of New York and Las Vegas. Because Berlanga was born in Brooklyn NY, he does have a tremendous fan base that always offers support.
A torn left bicep is not going to be an issue that was sustained in the third round in a tough win over Marcelo Esteben Coceras last October at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Surgery and recovery went well with a comeback unanimous decision over Steve Rolls in March, also at the Hulu Theater, which paved his way to main event a special evening Saturday.
“”We decided to do training camp on the Island because we knew that we had a big task ahead and we needed to be fully focused,’ he said. “As I said, I want to win big. This has been one of the best decisions I have made. It’s great to feel the support from the fans. That actually motivates me even more. I’m so ready! I can’t wait!”
Rich Mancuso is a senior writer @Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso
Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 10pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with Robert Rizzo Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify under The SLG Network.
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