NEW YORK – Steve Rolls’ reluctance to engage frustrated Edgar Berlanga during his last fight.
Brooklyn’s Berlanga beat Rolls unanimously in their 10-rounder March 19, but his unexceptional performance drew criticism. The undefeated super middleweight will face a more dangerous opponent in his return to Madison Square Gardens’ Hulu Theater on Saturday night, yet just the type of foe Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs) expects to help him deliver entertainment to the prideful Puerto Rican fans that figure to pack that venue again on the eve of the 65th annual National Puerto Rican Day Parade in Manhattan.
Alexis Angulo is 38 years old, but 85 percent of the Colombian contender’s wins have come by knockout (27-2, 23 KOs).
“I feel like he’s a perfect opponent for me,” Berlanga told BoxingScene.com after a press conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden. “You know, he’s the type of guy that’s not gonna shy away from power. He’s not gonna shy away from anything. You know, I feel like he’s gonna be there for me. I know he’s gonna be there for me. I don’t see him running. He’s a rugged, tough fighter, and has power. He’s gonna try to use that as an advantage, to try to overpower me, to try to say like, ‘Look, this kid doesn’t have the power y’all think he has.’ And I’m looking forward to it, man.”
Berlanga, 25, won’t just face a different type of opponent in the ring during a main event ESPN will televise as part of a doubleheader that’ll start at 11 p.m. ET. He’ll also have a different head trainer in his corner, as Puerto Rico’s Juan De Leon has replaced longtime chief second Andre Rozier.
“I’m with Juan DeLeon now,” Berlanga said. “I’ve still got Kay in the corner, coach Kay Koroma. You know, it’s boxing, man. I still love Uncle Dre. He moved on. I moved on. You know, I don’t really wanna talk about it because there’s nothing really there to talk about. We just parted ways. I’m happy. I did camp in Puerto Rico. It was amazing. My body looks phenomenal. I’ve never seen my body look like this before, the shape I’m in. So, I’m excited.”
Only former WBC 168-pound champion David Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) has stopped Angulo inside the distance during Angulo’s 11-year, 29-fight professional career. Berlanga, who knocked out his first 16 professional opponents in the first round, hopes to become the second man to knock out Angulo after going the distance in each of his past three fights against Demond Nicholson (25-4-1, 21 KOs), Marcelo Coceres (30-3-1, 16 KOs) and Rolls (21-2, 12 KOs).
More than anything, though, Berlanga is trying to appreciate headlining an event in New York the night prior to the aforementioned parade.
“It’s an amazing feeling to look up at billboards and see my face,” Berlanga said. “And we’re selling it out once again. I’m just glad I’m here, man, following in the footsteps of legends like Miguel Cotto and Tito Trinidad.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.