Edgar Berlanga apologizes for biting Angulo

Super middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga(20-0, 16 KOs) wasn’t impressive Saturday night. Still, he got the job done as he defeated two-time world title challenger Alexis Angulo (27-3, 23 KOs) by unanimous decision (99-91 2x and 98-92) over 10 rounds in front of 4,357 fans at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The Puerto Rican native headlined his first card on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, a tradition made famous by 2022 International Hall of Fame inductee Miguel Cotto. 

Berlanga, 25, grew in popularity because of his 16 first-round knockouts to start his career. However, he used his jab against Angulo. Berlanga overcame a bloody nose in this fight, but he really had no issues with Angulo.

Despite not getting the knockout, Berlanga was happy with how he boxed.

“Mentally, I felt good. I felt happy the whole training camp. I moved the training camp to Puerto Rico, and I can’t be more grateful to be on my island training,” Berlanga said. “I did a full camp for this fight, and you see the difference tonight.

In the seventh round, things got interesting as it appeared Berlanga attempted to bite Angulo on his shoulder. 

Fortunately for Berlanga, it was not caught by the referee Ricky Gonzalez.

“He was throwing elbows,” Berlanga said after the fight. “I was about to do a Mike Tyson on him. He kept throwing his elbows, and I didn’t want to get cut.”

On Sunday, via Twitter, Berlanga apologized for his actions.

“I want to apologize for my actions, and what I said yesterday about the Mike Tyson bite, he said. “I was in the moment and got a little ahead of myself. It doesn’t take away from the embarrassment that I have caused upon myself, my team, top ranks, and many others.

“I reacted poorly and take full responsibility. Moving forward, I am going to be more mindful and encouraging in my behavior. Once again, I do apologize.”

This was not a good night for Berlanga, but again, he won, so now he has to continue to get better. Can he be a world champion? Not so sure, but he definitely has a fanbase, and if he keeps on winning, maybe he can headline a card on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade next year at MSG.

Junior Lightweight: Henry Lebron (16-0, 10 KOs) UD 8 Luis Lebron (18-4-1, 11 KOs), Scores: 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74. In the all-Lebron Bowl, Henry Lebron made it 16 in a row with a masterclass in boxing off the back foot. Luis Lebron pushed the pace in the bout’s final stages, but Henry Lebron early work proved too much for him to overcome. Henry Lebron had the advantage in power shots landed, 88-62.

Junior Featherweight: Victor Santillan (12-0, 4 KOs) UD 8 Carlos Caraballo (15-2, 14 KOs), Scores: 78-74 2x and 77-75. In this all-southpaw affair, Santillan upset the Puerto Rican crowd favorite with a disciplined display of smart pressure. Santillan stunned Caraballo in the fourth and seventh rounds, doing enough in the eyes of the judges to pull away. Santillan had fought most of his career in the Dominican Republic, but in his second bout on American soil, he authored his signature win.

Junior Welterweight: Dakota Linger (13-5-3, 9 KOs) TKO 2 Josue Vargas (20-3, 9 KOs), 2:06. West Virginia native Linger refused to read the script, shocking Vargas with a brutal display of power punching. Early in the second Linger landed an overhand right that dropped Vargas, although the referee did not rule it a knockdown. Sensing the end was near, Linger pressed forward and floored Vargas with an uppercut. Vargas rose gingerly, and following a barrage featuring dozens of winging blows, the bout was stopped.

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Berlanga: ‘I’m excited to perform on Puerto Rican Day Weekend’

Super middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga takes center stage Saturday evening against two-time title challenge Alexis Angulo in the 10-round main event at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Berlanga, born in Brooklyn and whose family hails from Puerto Rico, takes the top spot on the eve of New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade. A popular ticket-seller with fearsome knockout power, Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs) hopes a win over the crafty Colombian gets him closer to a world title shot.

The winner of this fight will be the first recipient of Madison Square Garden’s Miguel Cotto Trophy. Puerto Rican icon Cotto, who is being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend, headlined five MSG fight nights on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Four-division world champion Cotto, from Caguas, will be ringside Saturday night.

In the eight-round co-feature of this all-Puerto Rican card, Henry Lebron (15-0, 10 KOs) and Luis Lebron (18-3-1, 11 KOs) will battle for the vacant WBO Latino junior lightweight belt. This fight was elevated to the co-feature after junior middleweight sensation Xander Zayas dropped out of his bout with a viral infection.

Undercard bouts will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ (7:10 p.m. ET) and includes junior featherweight contender Carlos Caraballo (15-1, 14 KOs), junior welterweight prospect Omar Rosario (6-0, 2 KOs), comebacking featherweight Orlando Gonzalez (17-1, 10 KOs), and junior welterweight Josue “The Prodigy” Vargas (20-2, 9 KOs).

At Thursday’s press conference, this is what Berlanga had to say.

Edgar Berlanga

Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Fighting on Puerto Rican Day Parade Weekend:

“I’m excited. It’s Puerto Rican Day {Parade} Weekend. {The first one} since the pandemic, two years. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a kid. I feel like I spoke it into existence. My hard work paid off and now we’re here.”

“To be honest, my team and Top Rank felt like he was the perfect opponent for Puerto Rican Day Weekend. He’s the type of fighter that comes forward. Hopefully, he does that this Saturday. He’s a tough, rugged fighter. He makes it look ugly, comes forward. He has power just like me. He’s powerful, so it’s going to be an amazing night. And I’m excited to perform on Puerto Rican Day Weekend.”

On three straight fights without a KO:

“It’s part of the process. I’m young, 25 years old. What can I say? I have 16 first-round knockouts, so I didn’t really gain the experience I needed. Definitely, these last three fights, I got the experience I needed. That’s the most important thing to make yourself a real professional athlete. But not only that, at that top level, you need those rounds. You need that feeling of what it’s like to get in the eighth, 10th round, and we got that done. This Saturday, Puerto Rican Day Weekend, I’m looking for a huge victory. I’m ready to go all out.”

“A lot of people don’t understand the last two years of not having a Puerto Rican Day Weekend and actually having a fight on that weekend… I’m just looking forward to performing, exploding like I always do and bringing back the old Edgar Berlanga.”

Xander Zayas withdraws from fight versus Hudaynazarov due to illness

Puerto Rican junior middleweight prospect Xander Zayas has been forced to withdraw from his June 11 bout with Ravshan Hudaynazarov at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden due to a non-COVID-19-related viral infection.

Zayas-Hudaynazarov was scheduled to be the co-feature to the 10-round super middleweight main event between Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga and two-time world title challenger Alexis Angulo.

The new co-feature will see Puerto Rican junior lightweight Henry “Moncho” Lebron (15-0, 10 KOs) battle countryman Luis “Popeye” Lebron (18-3-1, 11 KOs) in an eight-rounder for the vacant WBO Latino title.

Zayas said, “I am sorry to announce that I was forced to pull out of my fight on June 11. I have done my best to get well, however, my condition got worse over the past few days. As much as I love this sport and wanted to put on a show at Madison Square Garden for the fans, my health comes first, and my team and I had to make the difficult decision to postpone this fight. I want to thank everyone for all the support and love. I will be back soon.”

Henry Lebron makes his ESPN-televised debut less than three months removed from a breakthrough performance on the Berlanga-Steve Rolls undercard. He knocked out the normally durable Josec Ruiz in seven rounds, graduating from prospect to emerging contender. Luis Lebron, no relation to Henry, is a nine-year pro who has never been knocked out. He has upset unbeaten prospects multiple times before, including a stoppage victory last year over Frank Diaz (9-0 at the time). He last fought March 12, losing a competitive decision to rising Puerto Rican star Christian Tapia.

Berlanga is hoping to be the new face of Puerto Rican boxing

Puerto Rican super middleweight contender Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga is switching things up. Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs) has moved training camp from the friendly New York City confines to his family’s homeland as he seeks recapture the knockout power that saw him score 16 straight first-round knockouts to begin his career.

Berlanga is readying to fight two-time world title challenger Alexis Angulo (27-2, 23 KOs) in a 10-round main event Saturday, June 11, at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Berlanga-Angulo will headline an all-Puerto Rican card — live in prime time on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ — the evening before New York City’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.

One of Puerto Rico’s great champions, International Boxing Hall of Fame Class of 2022 inductee Miguel Cotto, hosted Berlanga for a media workout Wednesday at Gimnasio Miguel A. Cotto Carrasquillo. This is what Berlanga said ahead of his stiffest challenge to date.

Edgar Berlanga

Photos: Peter Amador / Top Rank

“On June 11, I will give my Island a big win on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I am are 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.”

“This fight will be big for my career. I’m ready to show up and show out as the new face of all Puerto Rican boxing. With this fight, I will set the tone and show everyone what I’m capable of. 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 is a tough fighter and he will come to fight, but I will break him down.”

“It feels great to train in Puerto Rico. 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. 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!”

Berlanga-Angulo, Zayas-Hudaynazarov set for June 11 in NYC

KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA – APRIL 24: Edgar Berlanga celebrates as he defeats Demond Nicholson at the Silver Spurs Arena on April 24, 2021 in Kissimmee, Florida. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

On the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City, the island nation’s brightest stars are coming to throw down. Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga, the flashy super middleweight knockout artist, will defend his NABO belt in the 10-round main event against two-time world title challenger Alexis Angulo.

In the eight-round junior middleweight co-feature, Xander Zayas, the fistic prodigy from San Juan, steps up in class against Uzbekistan-born veteran Ravshan Hudaynazarov.

Berlanga-Angulo and Zayas-Hudaynazarov will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+ at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.

“Boxing events at Madison Square Garden on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade are always special, and we have sensational young talents in Edgar Berlanga and Xander Zayas topping the bill,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “They are each stepping up in class, and I expect them to perform in a big way in front of a raucous, sold-out arena.”

Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs), at 24 years old, is already one of the biggest ticket-sellers in New York City. In March, a sold-out crowd of 5,158 packed the Hulu Theater for his step-up fight against Steve Rolls, which he won by unanimous decision. Berlanga burst onto the scene with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts to start his career, a ferocious run that captured the imagination of fight fans. The streak ended in April 2021, although Berlanga sent Demond Nicholson to the canvas four times in eight rounds. He survived a gut check that October, overcoming a torn biceps and a trip to the canvas to defeat Marcelo Esteban Coceres. Berlanga is currently the WBO No. 7-ranked super middleweight contender and can edge closer to a world title shot with a victory over Angulo.

“I’m so pumped to be headlining my second main event at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden,” Berlanga said. “Get ready for another sold-out crowd! This one will be special because this will be my first main event during the festivities of the Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend, just like my idols Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad and Miguel Cotto did. I’m following in the footsteps of greatness, but also continuing the legacy of bringing my people together on a beautiful weekend.

“For this fight, we decided to do the training camp on my Island, and it has been a great decision. It has been a great training camp in Puerto Rico. At the beginning of training camp, I met with ‘Tito’ Trinidad, and he gave me some very encouraging and motivating advice. He is my hero! I’ve been working very hard and I can’t wait to fight on June 11 to show what I’m made off. I will raise the Puerto Rican flag up high and represent for all my Boricuas around the world.”

Angulo (27-2, 23 KOs), from Patia, Colombia, received his first crack at the brass ring when he challenged Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez for the WBO super middleweight title in June 2018. He lost a unanimous decision to Ramirez, bouncing back with a major upset over then-unbeaten prospect Anthony Sims Jr. in January 2020. Less than seven months after the Sims triumph, he fought David Benavidez for the IBF super middleweight crown, falling via 10th-round TKO. In his lone outing of 2021, Angulo knocked out Carlos Galvan in five rounds. He hopes to upset the apple cart once against Berlanga.

Angulo said, “I look forward to getting back in action at the legendary Madison Square Garden and putting on a great show for all boxing fans, the Colombian fans, Puerto Rican fans, and the Latino community that will show out and support. I have proven to be a skilled, experienced, gritty, and valiant fighter. I intend to bring the same into the ring on June 11 against Edgar Berlanga.”

Zayas (13-0, 9 KOs) has been on the fast track since signing with Top Rank at 16 years old. From first-round knockouts in his first two pro fights in 2019, to a spotless 6-0 run in 2021, Zayas has lived up to the billing. This will be his third consecutive fight under the Madison Square Garden lights, less than three months removed from a one-sided eight-round decision over Quincy “Chico” LaVallais. Hudaynazarov (19-5, 14 KOs) has only been stopped twice in a 14-year professional career and has won two of his last three bouts.

Zayas said, “For me, fighting at Madison Square Garden is always a great opportunity. It fills me with emotion because the fans always bring very positive and motivating energy. This coming June 11, I know it will not be the exception, as this will be my first fight on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day Parade. I assure you that this will be the first of many. I want to continue bringing glory to Puerto Rico and Madison Square Garden, and I will continue to work hard to write my name in the history books as Cotto and Trinidad did.”

The undercard — streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ — features the following Puerto Rican standouts in separate bouts:

Henry Lebron (15-0, 10 KOs), 8 rounds, junior lightweight — Lebron, from Aguadilla, stood out on the Berlanga-Rolls card with a seventh-round TKO over the usually durable Josec Ruiz. Before turning pro, he won Puerto Rican amateur national titles in 2015 and 2016.

Carlos Caraballo (15-1, 14 KOs), 8 rounds, junior featherweight — Co-promoted by Miguel Cotto, the native of Guayanilla survived a gut check versus Luis Fernando Saavedra on March 26, edging a majority decision. Caraballo won his first 14 pro bouts by stoppage before a close unanimous decision loss to Jonas Sultan last October temporarily blunted his momentum.

Josue Vargas (20-2, 9 KOs), 8 rounds junior welterweight — Born in Isabela and raised in the Bronx, Vargas returns to the Hulu Theater, site of his first-round knockout loss to Jose Zepeda last October. Vargas regrouped to edge Argentina’s Nicolas Pablo Demario by unanimous decision in March.

Armani Almestica (5-0, 5 KOs), 6 rounds, lightweight — Born to Puerto Rican parents and raised in Orlando, Florida, Almestica broke through on the Berlanga-Rolls card with a third-round stoppage over Luis Valentin Portalatin. The all-action Almestica had a 117-7 amateur record and was on the Puerto Rican national team. He elected to turn pro after the Tokyo Olympics was postponed.

Orlando Gonzalez (17-1, 10 KOs), 8 rounds, featherweight — It is an evening of redemption for Gonzalez, who is coming off a 10-round decision loss to Robeisy Ramirez on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III undercard. The Aguadilla native spent much of his early career fighting in Puerto Rico and will make his Madison Square Garden debut June 11.

Omar Rosario (6-0, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior welterweight —A six-time Puerto Rican amateur national champion from Caguas, the 24-year-old fights for the first time since January’s decision win over Raekwon Butler.

Frevian Gonzalez (4-1, 1 KO), 6 rounds, junior lightweight — A stablemate of Puerto Rican two-weight world champion Jose Pedraza, the Cidra native looks to bounce back from last June’s decision defeat to Bryan Lua.

Christina Cruz (2-0), 4 rounds, flyweight – Cruz, an eight-time U.S. national amateur champion, turned pro last summer. Born to Puerto Rican parents, Cruz was raised in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.

Berlanga on win over Rolls: ‘I’m just happy we got the victory and moving forward’

New York City came out in full force to Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden to see Edgar Berlanga put on a show, and while it was not the show they may have wanted, their man got the victory. 

In front of a sold-out crowd, Berlanga prevailed by unanimous decision over Steve Rolls(96-94 and 97-93 2x) in a 10-round super middleweight battle in the main event Saturday night.

After winning 16 straight by first-round knockout, the Brooklyn native has now gone the distance in his last three fights.

Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs), who was dropped and tore his biceps last October against Marcelo Esteban Coceres, got the better of the action against the 37-year-old Rolls(21-2, 12 KOs), but the Canadian veteran had success as well. It was not a great night for Berlanga, but he did enough to get the job done.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 19 (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

According to Berlanga, Rolls fought scared.

“You could tell that he was fighting scared,” Berlanga said. “Every time I reached in or threw something, he’s pulling back, running the whole fight.

“I was looking for a big shot. My corner was telling me use a jab. My elbow was bothering me a little bit. But I’m just happy we got the victory and moving forward.”

He now moves forward to a potential June 11 date, which is Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in NYC.

The 24-year-old Berlanga is a draw, but he probably needs to develop more. The streak made him popular, but it may not have been suitable for his development. Young fighters need rounds, and Berlanga missed out on that due to the knockouts.

It should be interesting to see how Top Rank moves him going forward.

Zayas Blanks LaVallais

Xander Zayas was dominant in the junior middleweight co-feature, shutting out New Orleans-based veteran Quincy LaVallais over eight rounds (80-72 2x and 80-71). Zayas, the 19-year-old phenom from San Juan, Puerto Rico, excelled in his first scheduled eight-rounder, applying the pressure early and never letting up.

Zayas (13-0, 9 KOs) nearly scored the stoppage in round two, as he had LaVallais (12-3-1, 7 KOs) pinned against the ropes for the whole round. He landed 54 punches in that stanza, but LaVallais’ granite chin blunted Zayas’ power. By the fifth, LaVallais was marching forward, if not banking rounds.

Zayas kept the barrage going in the later rounds, and LaVallais received a moral victory of sorts in surviving the distance. Zayas outlanded LaVallais at a nearly 4-1 clip, 262-66.

Zayas said, “I need this type of experience. Eight rounds against a tough opponent will only help me as I move forward in my career.

“The plan is to come back June 11 at The Garden on Puerto Rican Parade Weekend. That’s a special weekend for Puerto Ricans, and I am proud to represent my people.”

Junior Welterweight: John Bauza (17-0, 7 KOs) UD 8 Tony Luis (29-5, 10 KOs). Scores: 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74. Luis applied his typical pressure, but that wasn’t enough to upset the apple cart against the rising Puerto Rican star. Bauza used his southpaw jab and quick-trigger combinations to blunt the Luis attack.

Welterweight: Jahi Tucker (7-0, 4 KOs) UD 6 Tracey McGruder (6-2, 4 KOs). Scores: 60-54 and 59-55 2x. Long Island native Tucker tried everything he could, but the stubborn McGruder withstood the onslaught. He turned southpaw at times and attempted to lure McGruder to the ropes. After six rounds, McGruder was still standing, and Tucker had to settle for the near-shutout.

Junior Lightweight: Henry Lebron (15-0, 10 KOs) TKO 7 Josec Ruiz (23-6-3, 16 KOs). It took Lebron nearly seven rounds, but the Puerto Rican contender became the first man to knock out the Honduran veteran. Lebron laid a beating on Ruiz, but he finally staggered him in the seventh, prompting referee Benjy Esteves to stop the fight.

Junior Lightweight: Bruce Carrington (3-0, 2 KOs) KO 5 Yeuri Andujar (5-5-1, 3 KOs). Carrington, the latest knockout puncher from the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, knocked Andujar out cold with left hook. The Dominican veteran gave Carrington the most competitive run of his young career, but it was mostly one-sided traffic that ended in devastating fashion.

Carrington said, “I want to thank Brownsville and all of Brooklyn for coming out to support me. Fighting as a pro at Madison Square Garden was a dream come true. This is only the beginning.”

Junior Welterweight: Armani Almestica (5-0, 5 KOs) TKO 3 Luis Valentin Portalatin (3-4, 1 KO), 1:57. Almestica brought a vocal contingent to the Hulu Theater and battered late replacement Portalatin until referee Eric Dali stopped the fight.

Junior Welterweight: Kelvin Davis (4-0, 3 KOs) TKO 1 Phillip Carmouche (2-3), 1:17. The eldest of the Fighting Davis Brothers from Norfolk, Virginia, Kelvin notched the first first-round knockout of his burgeoning career. Carmouche offered little resistance, and Davis pounced with a pair of knockdowns. The finishing blow came courtesy of a right hook as Carmouche was slumped against the ropes.

Berlanga: ‘I think 2022 is going to be a big year for me’

Super middleweight contender Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga went the distance twice last year following 16 first-round stoppages to begin his pro career. After surgery to repair a torn biceps suffered last October against Marcelo Esteban Coceres, Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) will make his 2022 debut Saturday, March 19 in a 10-rounder against Steve Rolls (21-1, 12 KOs) at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The Brooklyn-born Berlanga is ready to begin a new knockout streak against Rolls, a Canadian veteran who has a pair of knockout wins since a 2019 TKO defeat to Gennadiy Golovkin.

The Night of Young Stars —Berlanga-Rolls, Keyshawn Davis-Esteban Sanchez, and Xander Zayas-Quincy LaVallais — will be broadcast live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

This is what Berlanga had to say at his Las Vegas training camp:

“I think 2022 is going to be a big year for me, and I can’t wait to kick it off in my first main event in New York. I learned a lot from my last fight, and I’ve been working really hard on correcting my mistakes. After my surgery, I chose to do my rehab out here in Las Vegas so I could not only do physical therapy with the best team in the business, but also focus 100 percent on boxing. The fans are going to see big things from me this year beginning March 19.”

“Having my first main event at home is amazing. I’m ready to show everyone what I’m made of. I want people to see that I can sell out an arena. I don’t need to have a title or a big-name opponent to sell tickets. I have a fanbase, and everyone is going to see that on March 19.”

“I’m proud to represent New York City and Puerto Rico. I want to be the next great Puerto Rican champion. My first memories of boxing are watching Tito Trinidad fight as a little kid, and I want to give the Puerto Rican people someone that they can be proud of.”  

Photo: Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Berlanga-Rolls, Zaya-LaVallais, Davis-Sanchez set for 3/19 at MSG

Three future fistic superstars are set to unite under the Madison Square Garden spotlight.

Brooklyn-born super middleweight sensation Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga will defend his NABO belt against crafty Canadian Steve Rolls in the 10-round main event Saturday, March 19 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Berlanga, whose family hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico, makes his main event debut in his stiffest test to date.

In the junior middleweight co-feature, 19-year-old Puerto Rican star Xander Zayas will fight in his first scheduled eight-rounder against Louisiana-born spoiler Quincy “Chico” LaVallais.

The eight-round televised opener will see the return of lightweight U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis against Mexican veteran Esteban Sanchez.

Berlanga-Rolls, Zayas-LaVallais and Davis-Sanchez will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

“Edgar, Xander and Keyshawn are future pound-for-pound superstars, and it will be a special evening in front of a sold-out New York City crowd,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “All three are in there with the toughest fights of their respective careers, but I expect them to pass with flying colors.”

Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) took the boxing world by storm with 16 straight first-round knockouts to open his pro career. He went the distance twice in 2021, opening his campaign in April by knocking down Demond Nicholson four times in eight rounds in an ESPN-televised rout. Berlanga returned on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III card in October, defeating Marcelo Esteban Coceres via 10-round unanimous decision despite suffering a torn biceps in the third round and the first knockdown of his career in the ninth.

Berlanga said, “I’m so excited to fight in my first main event in my hometown. It’s a dream come true for a fighter representing New York City and Puerto Rico. I can’t wait to show the world what I’m truly about. We are going to blow the roof off the Hulu Theater, so grab your tickets early and get your popcorn ready for this performance.”

Rolls (21-1, 12 KOs), a 37-year-old from Toronto, is an 11-year pro who was an undefeated middleweight contender before moving up in weight. In June 2019, he challenged pound-for-pound stalwart Gennadiy Golovkin at Madison Square Garden and found some success in the second round before being stopped in the fourth. Rolls has tallied two wins since the Golovkin bout, most recently knocking out Christopher Brooker in the ninth round last month on the Artur Beterbiev-Marcus Browne undercard in Montreal.

Rolls said, “I’m happy to be back headlining at Madison Square Garden. Training camp has been going well, and I feel very strong with nothing but war on my mind. Berlanga has power, but I’ll be ready for whatever he brings. I’m looking forward to March 19. I’ll see you then.”

Zayas (12-0, 9 KOs) had a breakthrough 2021, going 6-0 with four knockouts while being mentioned prominently in Prospect of the Year debates. He made his Madison Square Garden debut last December and finished his 2021 campaign by knocking out Alessio Mastronunzio in the first round. He steps up against LaVallais (12-2-1, 7 KOs), who notched a December 2020 upset over Clay Collard at the MGM Grand Bubble. LaVallais, who is 2-2 since the Collard victory, has never been knocked out.

Zayas said, “It’s an honor to fight again at Madison Square Garden, where I know my Puerto Rican people will come out to show their support. 2021 was a great year, but I’m looking forward to an even bigger 2022. Quincy LaVallais is a solid veteran, so I can’t overlook him. I want to make a major statement on March 19.”

Davis (4-0, 3 KOs), from Norfolk, Virginia, won three bouts in the first five months of 2021 before journeying to Tokyo and earning a silver medal. He then signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank and improved to 4-0 with a second-round stoppage over Jose Zaragoza on December 11. Davis makes his 2022 debut against Sanchez (18-1, 8 KOs), a 23-year-old from Ensenada, Mexico, who has won two straight bouts and will be making his American debut.

Davis said, “I put on a show at Madison Square Garden in December, and I’m going to do it again. Esteban Sanchez is supposed to be my hardest fight as a pro, but it’s going to be easy work. The Davis Brothers are coming to represent Norfolk and leave no doubt that we are the future of boxing.”

Undercard action will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ and is scheduled to include a host of undefeated talents, including Puerto Rican junior welterweight John “El Terrible” Bauza (16-0, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder, welterweight and Berlanga’s New York City stablemate Pablo “Pretty Boy” Valdez (6-0, 5 KOs) in a six-round attraction, Puerto Rican junior lightweight Henry “Moncho” Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) in an eight-rounder, and a four-rounder featuring junior welterweight Kelvin Davis (3-0, 2 KOs).

Berlanga, Williams to return on Fury-Wilder III undercard

Brooklyn’s newest young knockout prodigy and a former unified world champion from Philadelphia will see action Saturday, Oct. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in preliminary bouts before the highly anticipated heavyweight trilogy grudge match between WBC and lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson “The Gypsy King” Fury and former heavyweight world champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder.

Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga will fight former world title challenger Marcelo Esteban “El Terrible” Coceres in a scheduled 10-round showdown for the vacant NABO super middleweight belt, while Julian “J-Rock” Williams will face Mexico’s Vladimir Hernandez in a 10-round junior middleweight bout in his first fight since losing his title belts.

Berlanga-Coceres and Williams-Hernandez will be televised live at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, FS1 and FOX Deportes, and simulcast on ESPN+. Preliminary bouts will stream live on the ESPN App and FOX Sports App starting at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.

The all-heavyweight Fury vs. Wilder III ESPN+ and FOX Sports PPV bonanza begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features 2016 Nigerian Olympian “The One and Only” Efe Ajagba squaring off against fellow unbeaten Frank “The Cuban Flash” in the 10-round co-main event; the highly anticipated 12-round rematch between Robert “The Nordic Nightmare” Helenius and Adam “Babyface” Kownacki; and the eight-round PPV opener featuring 21-year-old sensation Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson versus Russian veteran Vladimir Tereshkin.

Berlanga (17-0, 16 KOs), the Brooklyn-bred puncher with Puerto Rican roots, became one of boxing’s most talked-about fighters by scoring first-round knockouts in his first 16 fights. The 2020 Prospect of the Year, he’s walked to the ring with mentor and multi-platinum hip hop artist Fat Joe and become a social media sensation with his highlight-reel stoppages. The knockout streak ended in April, as Berlanga knocked down Demond Nicholson four times in eight rounds and had to settle for a unanimous decision. Coceres (30-2-1, 16 KOs), from Argentina, challenged Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO super middleweight world title in November 2019 and was nearly level on the scorecards before being knocked out in the 11th round. He last fought in June, knocking out Nelson Nicolas Rosalez in the second round.

Berlanga said, “I am thrilled to be fighting on the Fury-Wilder III card, and I am coming do what I always do, which is to steal the show and knock out my opponent in devastating fashion. Coceres is in for a rude awakening on October 9. Do not get up for a snack when I’m fighting. It’s going to be a short, brutal night. Count on it.”

Philadelphia’s Williams (27-2-1, 16 KOs) became a unified world champion at 154-pounds in May 2019 when he upset Jarrett Hurd in one of the year’s best fights, winning a close-quarters brawl by unanimous decision. The 31-year-old dropped the titles in his first defense, losing to Jeison Rosario in January 2020. Williams had been riding a five-fight winning streak going into the Rosario matchup, in which he added victories over former champion Ishe Smith and hard-hitting contender Nathaniel Gallimore to his ledger. He returns to action on Oct. 9 against the 32-year-old Hernandez (12-4, 6 KOs). Originally from Durango, Mexico, Hernandez now lives in Denver, Colorado, and most recently earned a decision victory over longtime contender Alfredo Angulo in August 2020.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to compete on this amazing card,” said Williams. “I’m excited to be getting back in the ring and starting my journey back to the very top of the division.”

Preliminary bouts include a 10-round featherweight bout between two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez (7-1, 4 KOs) and unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Orlando “Capu” Gonzalez (17-0, 10 KOs), heavyweight phenom Viktor Faust (7-0, 5 KOs) in an eight-rounder against Mike Marshall (6-1, 4 KOs), the pro debut of former U.S. amateur star Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington in a four-round featherweight contest against an opponent to be named, and junior welterweight standout Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez (11-1-1, 10 KOs) versus Victor Vazquez (11-5, 5 KOs) in an eight-rounder.

Berlanga on fans: ‘I know they wanted a first-round knockout’

Edgar Berlanga finally got out of the first round on Saturday night, and in fact, he went the distance on Saturday night.

The Puerto Rico star dropped Demond Nicholson(23-4, 20 KOs) four times and went on to win by unanimous decision at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. Berlanga(17-0, 16 KOs), who had 16 consecutive first-round knockouts entering the night, was in complete control in this fight.

He knocked down Nicholson with a left hook in the second round, a right hand in the third round, a left hook in the fifth round, and a right hand just before the bell sounded to end the eighth.

“It’s kind of fu—- up I had to go to the judges with all the people here,” Berlanga said after the fight. “I know they wanted a first-round knockout, but I enjoyed getting the experience. 

“It was an awesome experience for me. I caught him with an amazing shot at 10 seconds of the last round. I wanted to get him out! But I didn’t, but I got the experience, especially in front of my Puerto Rican people. It was good.”

The 16-fight first-round knockout streak was remarkable, but if he wants to become a champion, Berlanga needs rounds, and he got that against a veteran in Nicholson on Saturday night. He does need to work on his stamina. It appeared that in the later rounds, he tired out, but, to his credit, Berlanga did finish strong. 

What’s next for the 23-year-old Berlanga? There was some talk on the ESPN telecast about a possible fight with Jesse Hart, another step-up fight for him, and a fight that will test Berlanga. He has the potential to be a big star, and if he can continue to get better and keep winning, he can be the next big thing in boxing, and right now, the Brooklyn native might be ready to headline a card at Madison Square Garden.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)