Berlanga Focusing On The Now And Not The Next

Boxing Scene

Edgar Berlanga returns to the ring next weekend, but much of the talk is circulating about who he fights afterwards, rather than whom he fights next.

Berlanga boxes Irishman Padraig McCrory at Caribe Royal in Orlando, Florida on Saturday night (February 24) and admits he wants to make a statement to build momentum into a major fight.

Berlanga, 21-0 (16 KOs), is often a name that emerges on the peripheries of the Canelo Alvarez sweepstakes, and he is also often linked to, among others, Jaime Munguia.

“Next week is my main focus right now, so to really put him [Canelo] on notice, I’ve got to look like a star,” Berlanga told BoxingScene. “I’ve got to shine bright next week, literally make this dude [McCrory] look like he’s not in my category and really perform my ass off next week, so that way the boxing world starts talking about this s***. They’ll be like, ‘Wow, he’s back’. Okay. Now they’re going to start talking his [Canelo’s] name, now he doesn’t have an opponent. Now he’s like, ‘We can make it happen’. So that’s what’s on my mind next week, really performing. That’s why I’m so locked in, because I know something big is going to happen next week in a positive way, and I’m ready and I’m excited.”

McCrory, 18-0 with nine stoppages, is 35, and insists he is not merely a walk-on part.

Berlanga is coming off wins over Jason Quigley, Roamer Alexis Angulo and Steve Rolls. 

An event with Canelo is a whole new world. 

“If that fight comes, he knows that would be a big fight because at the end of the day, he knows I ‘ve got PR, I’ve got Puerto Rico, I’ve got a whole country behind me literally, the whole country,” said Berlanga. “When I go to Puerto Rico, I get bum-rushed everywhere; restaurants, the airport, walking in the street, so that’s a big fight regardless. Even if I don’t have a title or not, but I’m that much of a big draw, not just in boxing but I’ve got an island behind me. That’s like what Floyd [Mayweather] was using. Floyd fought a lot of guys who had countries behind him, because of money. Ricky Hatton, [Oscar] De La Hoya, Canelo, [Miguel] Cotto… these guys had countries behind them.”

While Berlanga was looking for a statement win, some felt John Ryder was a gauge for Jaime Munguia to see if the Mexican would land the Canelo fight. Munguia impressed, but last week Canelo said his May 4 opponent would be American.

Is there such a thing as making too much of a statement?

“You know what it is though?” Berlanga began. “Canelo’s got that thing like he’s, ‘Oh, I’m not fighting a Mexican fighter’. So there’s a difference. If I look impressive, it’s like, ‘Well we could take that fight, because he’s Puerto Rican’. He [Canelo]’s fought Cotto already too, so I’ve got to avenge that loss for Cotto, man.”

Regardless of what comes down the line, Berlanga is switched on and ready to main event next week. His eyes are fixed on McCrory, and distractions are being kept to a minimum. 

Occasionally, his two-year-old son visits him in the gym to watch him train as an inspiration to the 26-year-old super-middleweight contender.

“I moved out here to Florida to be with my family, he’s in the gym with me maybe three times a week, I bring him because I’m training, I’m working hard and I look over and I see him and he’s just watching me or he’s in the ring and punching on a punching bag, that’s motivation for me,” said Berlanga. 

But there is a difference between work life and home life. Berlanga is not allowing himself to get too soft ahead of the McCrory contest. 

“Yeah, 1,000 per cent I’m in fight mode,” he said. “I know I’m in fight mode when I don’t sleep with my wife. I don’t want to hug, I don’t want to kiss, I don’t want to do nothing. I just want to be by myself, just focused.”

That is in stark contrast to where he usually is. He prefers the light of family life to the spartan darkness of camp life and fighting. 

“Hell yeah, I prefer to chill out at home,” Berlanga smiled. “This is where I want to get it over with, because you’re super locked in, and I feel that when I’m in camp, I’m not myself. I’m super locked in. I’m more anti-social. I don’t really like to speak to nobody. I just really focus on what I’ve got to do and the fight.”

Berlanga talks about his admiration for the likes of Felix Trinidad and Miguel Cotto, boxers who fought just about everybody. The contender who was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents is approaching a position where he could sit and wait in a top spot for Canelo rather than fight. For Berlanga, money talks.

“At the end of the day, I understand the money,” he said. “The money has a lot to do with it. 

“There’s probably like 90 per cent of fighters that are not scarred to fight another fighter and I feel like there’s probably 10 per cent that is probably scared, but I think 90 per cent of the time it probably is the money. I think fighters are starting to understand that they’re not going to risk their ‘0’ for a risky fight, [or] for no money. People don’t understand, and if the fight is going to draw a lot of money, we should be able to get paid what we deserve. 

“If it’s a fight that people aren’t interested in, then you’re not going to get that back. But if it’s two fighters that are stars in the sport, then they deserve it and they deserve to get paid, they’re the guys and I think it should be that. I think that has a lot to do with it, the money.”

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