Berlanga on the possibility of fighting Canelo: ‘I know it’s going to happen’

For 168-pound sensation Edgar Berlanga, there have been 14 fights, and 14 first-round knockouts . The 23-year-old Berlanga(14-0, 14 KOs) looks to continue his first-round knockout streak on Saturday when he takes on Lanell Bellows(20-5-3, 13 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight battle on the Lomachenko-Lopez undercard.

Bellows has never been stopped in his career, and Berlanga has not gone many rounds in his career. However, he’s prepared to go rounds with Bellows if necessary.

“I worked hard in the gym, and that’s what every fighter should be doing,” Berlanga said at a virtual press conference on Tuesday. “It’s just putting the hard work in the gym, so that way I know going into the fight, my mind is 100 percent prepared to go those rounds, which will eventually happen. I’ve just been working extremely hard.

“{Bellows} is going to come right at me. He’s that type of fighter. He’s smaller than me. He’s a smaller guy, so I know he’s going to bring the pressure. He’s going to bring the fight to me. I don’t see him trying to box me because I’m the bigger man. That’d be real stupid of him and a crazy game plan if they try to do that.”

Berlanga is still young, but he has his sights set on some of the big names in the super middleweight division, including Canelo Alvarez and David Benavidez.

“I’ve been talking about the Canelo fight for a couple months already,” Berlanga said. “I know it’s going to happen. It’s gotta happen. If I continue to win in beautiful fashion and keep doing what I do best, I know that fight is going to happen. He’s Mexico; I’m Puerto Rico. He has a big country behind him. I have a big country behind me. It’s one of the biggest rivalries in boxing today. {David} Benavidez is another guy that I’m looking forward to stepping in the ring with in the future. It’s boxing. These fights gotta happen. It’s good for the sport. It’s good for the culture.”

Berlanga is growing in popularity because fans love big punchers, and he has shown that ability in his young career, and when the time comes for a big fight, Berlanga expects to be ready

“I’m 23 years old. I’m still developing as a fighter. I know I’m a killer, but I also know there are killers at 168. I just want to get 150 percent prepared for when the time comes,” he said. “I have the world in my hands right now. I’m a hot young prospect. I have Puerto Rico behind me. I’m knocking everyone out, and I just want to {advance} my career. Eventually, we’re going to step up to those big fights because that’s what I want. I want the big paydays. I want the big fights.”

Will Berlanga finally get out of the first round, or will the knockout streak continue? We will find out soon enough, but the first-round knockout streak will be tested against Bellows.

Saucedo-Barboza, Berlanga-Bellows added to Loma-Lopez undercard

The most anticipated fight of the fall — the Oct. 17 lightweight unification showdown between WBC Franchise/WBA/WBO world champion Vasiliy “Loma” Lomachenko and IBF kingpin Teofimo Lopez from the MGM Grand Las Vegas “Bubble”— now has a two-course televised appetizer befitting the occasion.

In the 10-round junior welterweight co-feature, former world title challenger Alex Saucedo will fight unbeaten contender Arnold Barboza Jr.

The televised opener will see super middleweight knockout sensation Edgar Berlanga test his perfect record against veteran Lanell Bellows in an eight-rounder. Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) has won all 14 of his professional fights by first-round stoppage.

Lomachenko-Lopez, Saucedo-Barboza and Berlanga-Bellows will be televised live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

“Lomachenko-Lopez promises to be a classic, and the rest of the ESPN-televised card will set the table,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Barboza and Saucedo are players in the deep junior welterweight division, and both men are ferocious competitors. The winner is ready to challenge for a world title. As for Edgar Berlanga, every time he steps in the ring, he impresses me more and more. I haven’t seen a young puncher like him in quite some time.”

Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs), the thunderous slugger from Oklahoma City, has won a pair of fights since falling short to Maurice Hooker in a November 2018 bid for the WBO junior welterweight world title. He is entering his third bout with head trainer Pedro Neme, a union that has paid dividends thus far. Saucedo knocked out Rod Salka in the first round last November and made his “Bubble” debut June 30 with a one-sided decision over Sonny Fredrickson.

Barboza (24-0, 10 KOs), from South El Monte, Calif., is a seven-year pro who is ranked in the top 10 by the WBO and WBC at 140 pounds. He graduated from prospect to contender with victories over the likes of Mike Reed, Mike Alvarado and William Silva. He last fought Aug. 29 as the co-feature to the Jose Ramirez-Viktor Postol junior welterweight world title bout and cruised to a one-sided decision over Canadian veteran Tony Luis.

“Arnold is a very versatile fighter, so we are preparing for everything,” Saucedo said. “I know it will be hard to steal the show from Lomachenko-Lopez, but I’m coming in to put on a memorable fight for the fans. I feel like people still doubt me from the Maurice Hooker fight, and I can’t wait to show everyone all of my tools.”

“This fight, and fighting on such a significant card, means the world to me,” Barboza said. “It’s time to put the 140-pound division on notice. I respect Saucedo, but he’s in my way as I strive to earn a world title opportunity.”

Berlanga has combined flash with unique power to earn headlines despite not having seen the second round as a pro. The record for consecutive first-round knockouts to begin a career is 21, held by the late Ali Raymi. Berlanga made his “Bubble” debut on July 21 and stopped Eric Moon in 62 seconds, which equaled the fifth-shortest outing of his career. Bellows (20-5-3, 13 KOs) has never been stopped as a pro and has made his bones testing young prospects. He is coming off a fourth-round stoppage over Malcolm Jones, who entered the fight with a 15-1 record.

“I’m dedicating this fight to my family and Puerto Rico. I want to continue to shine like a bright star and carry the flag on my back,” Berlanga said. “Bellows has never been stopped, but I intend to be the first man to stop him. He’s a strong fighter, and I hope to get some rounds in. I want to show that I’m a versatile boxer and not just a puncher. One thing I will guarantee is another explosive performance.”

Valdez stops Velez, Berlanga scores 14th consecutive first-round knockout

 Oscar Valdez was not interested in a distance fight. The former featherweight world champion, in his second fight as a junior lightweight, knocked out Jayson Velez (29-7-1, 21 KOs) with 37 seconds remaining in the 10th and final round Thursday evening at the MGM Grand Conference Center — Grand Ballroom.

Valdez (28-0, 22 KOs) knocked down Velez in the fifth round and twice more in the 10th before the referee called it off. A former world title challenger, this was the first KO defeat of Velez’s career.

Valdez, the WBC No. 1 contender at 130 pounds, now has his sights set on countryman and longtime champion Miguel Berchelt.

“Miguel Berchelt is the fight I want. He has the WBC title at 130 pounds. I want the WBC title. Miguel and I would make for a great fight,” Valdez said. “Velez was everything I expected, a tough warrior who fought his heart out. I commend him for a great performance and a great fight.”

Berlanga does it again!!

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— Oops, he did it again. Super middleweight destroyer Edgar Berlanga (14-0, 14 KOs) scored his 14th consecutive first-round knockout, obliterating the usually durable Eric Moon (11-3, 6 KOs) in 62 seconds. A pair of overhand rights sent a dazed Moon to the canvas, and referee Kenny Bayless  had seen enough.

“It was another step-up fight for me. We prepared to go rounds, but I got him hurt and got him out of there,” Berlanga said. “I still have so much room to grow as a fighter. The power is there, but I will show everyone that I am a well-rounded fighter. The knockout streak is cool, but there is more to me than first-round knockouts.”

— The Isaac Dogboe comeback is in motion. The former WBO junior featherweight world champion, coming off back-to-back defeats to Emanuel Navarrete, dominated Chris Avalos via eighth-round TKO in a statement-making performance at featherweight. Dogboe (21-2, 15 KOs) had not fought in more than a year, but he shook off the ring rust in short order, using a steady body attack to break down the two-time world title challenger.

“I was off for 14 months. This was a long time coming. I felt great with my new trainer, Barry Hunter. We’re only getting warmed up,” Dogboe said. “I wanted to show everyone that Isaac Dogboe never went away. I’m still here, and I am only getting better.”

— ESPY winner Kim Clavel (12-0, 2 KOs) was victorious in her ESPN debut, as she defeated the previously undefeated Natalie Gonzalez (6-1, 1 KO) by unanimous decision (80-72 3x) in a light flyweight bout. Clavel made a triumphant return to the ring, as she worked as a nurse in Montreal elder care facilities on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. Her contributions earned her the 2020 Pat Tillman Award for Service last month at the ESPYs.

“I knew it would be a hard fight because she’s a good fighter. She had a good amateur background,” Clavel said. “This was my first time here. I had some pressure, but with every round, I felt better and better in the ring with my coach. We won all the rounds. This is what we wanted.

“I would love to stay active and fight again before the end of 2020. I want to be the best in the light flyweight division.”

— Junior welterweight prospect Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (8-0-1, 8 KOs) notched his second “Bubble” knockout in 19 days, icing Dennis Okoth (4-4-1, 2 KOs) with a single left cross in the second round. Rodriguez has won six straight by knockout since a technical draw in his third pro fight.

Photos: Top Rank Boxing/Mikey Williams