NEW YORK – Edgar Berlanga has been presented with three appealing options a couple weeks after he parted ways with longtime promoter Top Rank Inc.
Berlanga and his manager, Keith Connolly, informed BoxingScene.com that Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions and Eddie Hearns’ Matchroom Boxing have all made offers to work with the undefeated super middleweight contender. Brooklyn’s Berlanga (20-0, 16 KOs) is expected to decide soon which of the three aforementioned men will help guide his career for the foreseeable future.
“I’m happy to have interest from the big dogs, the top promoters, such as Oscar De La Hoya, Al Haymon, Eddie Hearn,” Berlanga told BoxingScene.com before a press conference Thursday at Madison Square Garden. “These are legendary promoters, man, that promote great fighters and put on the best shows. I’m just excited, man, to be in this position. A lot of fighters don’t get this opportunity in their lifetime, and I’m getting this opportunity. We’re gonna grab it, keep moving forward and, you know, make something great out of it.”
The 25-year-old Berlanga and Connolly met in person this week with De La Hoya and Hearn and have spoken on the phone with Haymon, an influential adviser and manager whose company works with several significant 168-pound fighters. Hearn has an advantage in that the British promoter’s company currently works with boxing’s biggest draw, undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, the high-profile opponent the ambitious Berlanga eventually wants to fight.
Mexico’s Alvarez also has fought for De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, but they terminated their partnership late in 2020. The 32-year-old Alvarez aligned with Haymon’s company for one fight – his 11th-round stoppage of former IBF champ Caleb Plant in November 2021 – but several of Haymon’s clients are potential opponents for Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs).
Whoever Berlanga chooses, he and his team feel they’ll agree on how he should be paid and matched moving forward. Berlanga received a lot of exposure on ESPN while Bob Arum’s Top Rank promoted him, but their disagreements on purses and opponents ultimately made them reach a separation agreement that was announced January 18.
“We sat down with Oscar, obviously a guy Edgar looked up to when he was young,” Connolly said. “He loved Oscar. Met with Eddie Hearn [on Wednesday]. Handsome, best promoter in the world. He walked out of that meeting and said, ‘I love Eddie.’ He talked to Al Haymon a few times on the phone and is probably gonna meet up with him in the short term, in person, and he said, ‘Wow! Al is the nicest guy I ever spoke to.’ So, he likes all three. I think the biggest pressure on Edgar’s shoulders right now is that all three guys are really good at what they do. They’re all legends in the sport and he can only pick one. And that’s his hardest decision.
“I personally know who he’s leaning towards. I’m not gonna say that right now, but he’s gonna have to make a decision in the very short term. And I think he will make the right decision. He’ll take input from me. He’ll obviously take input from his father, who’s the most important person in his life. And then he’s gonna decide what he wants. Then we’re all gonna sit down as a group and sort of decide together. But in the end, it’s his life. He’s the boss.”
Berlanga memorably knocked out all of his first 16 professional opponents in the first round. Each of his past four fights, an eight-rounder and three straight 10-rounders, have gone the distance.
The popular Puerto Rican boxer has shown an ability to sell tickets, but he has drawn criticism from some fans and media for his past three performances. Berlanga is ranked fourth by both the IBF and WBO, sixth by the WBA and 12th by the WBC.
Berlanga last fought June 11, when he unanimously out-pointed Colombian contender Alexis Angulo (27-3, 23 KOs) in a 10-round match at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. The New York State Athletic Commission suspended Berlanga for six months and fined him $10,000 after that bout because he attempted to bite Angulo on his left shoulder in the seventh round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.