Even with a full career ahead of him and longing for the day when he sees the second round of a fight, Edgar Berlanga Jr. has never felt more complete as a prizefighter.
The red-hot super middleweight prospect from Brooklyn, New York is brimming with confidence ahead of his upcoming step-up fight versus Lanell Bellows. The two collide Saturday evening, live on ESPN from The Bubble at MGM Grand in Las Vegas in support of the lightweight superfight between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez.
Berlanga longs for the day when it’s his name at the top of the marquee. At his present pace and with the dream team by which he’s surrounded—Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s Top Rank outlet and high-powered 2019 Manager of the Year Keith Connolly—the rest is merely up to what he’s able to accomplish in the ring.
“It’s an amazing feeling, knowing I have the most powerful people in the sport looking out for me,” Berlanga told BoxingScene.com. “Top Rank knows how to move fighters and build them into superstars. It’s been my dream to sign with them since I was a kid. The minute I had that chance, I knew I had to sign with them.
“Then you add Keith to the mix. He’s a wonderful guy, I love him to death and we stay loyal.”
Berlanga (140, 14KOs) officially entered the Top Rank fold last year, with Saturday marking his seventh ring appearance on one of their shows. The in-ring results have remained the same—none of his opponents seeing the second round—but the confidence continues to grow with each fight, as his team is complete with people he can fully trust.
“I left my old team in Florida (ProBox Management) and wound up getting together with [head trainer] Andre Rozier,” notes Berlanga of adding the key ingredients. “Keith found out I was training with Andre, he has three stablemates of mine that’s Andre training (Richard Commey, Duke Micah, Sergiy Derevyanchenko). It was just about putting the pieces to the puzzle together.
“Keith seen it, he told Andre. Andre told my father. My father got together with Keith and now they both manage me. Keith stepped up to the plate, made an amazing offer, a beautiful deal and we took it. A lot of snakes is gonna come, they’re gonna try to creep in on this good thing. My dad was one who started me, he invested his money into my boxing career. A lot of people who’ve tried to come into my career have tried to exit my dad. One thing about Keith, he involves my dad in everything. They talk, they know what’s going on. Keith always incorporates my dad in a lot of things. That’s what makes it all happen.”
Saturday night will mark the second fight of 2020 for Berlanga, who was forced to miss out on an appearance at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater earlier this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Should all go as planned on Saturday, the hope is to maybe squeeze in one more fight in 2020 or at least hit the ground running in the new year. A title fight remains the mid-term goal, but for now is content with the direction of a career filled with nothing but upside.
“They’re putting me on the right track,” acknowledges Berlanga of his team. “My name is going everywhere. They’re putting me on big cards, on Pay-Per-View cards. I’m getting to showcase my skills on television. Not just on the (ESPN+) app but on television.
“A guy walks into a sports bar, he looks up on ESPN and sees me fighting. That’s amazing. Top Rank, Keith, Andre, they do all the work behind the scenes, and I just have to keep doing what I do best in the ring.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox