At the top of a Top Rank promoted card at Hulu Theater inside Madison Square Garden, New York, Edgar Berlanga defended his WBO NABO super middleweight title with a unanimous points win over Steve Rolls.
Berlanga (19-0, 16 KOs) began his professional career with 16 straight first round knockouts, but his last two contests saw him have to go the distance, his last a ten round decision win over Marcelo Coceres, where he had to get off the floor in the ninth. Rolls’ only defeat came at the hands of Gennady Golovkin in June 2019, and he had won two straight fights since.
Rolls (21-2, 12 KOs) began this one off a busy jab, and he was boxing off the back foot to stay out of trouble. Berlanga largely studied his opponent in the opening round, not really landing with anything of note.
Rolls was boxing well, using good movement too, and the home favourite sustained a cut over his right eye in the second.
The Brooklyn man started to close the gap in the third, and was walking his opponent down, landing with power shots in round four.
Rolls was content to just box and land shots sporadically, while Berlanga struggled to pin the Canadian down with clean punches, although he was remaining patient.
The seventh saw the 37-year-old connect with multiple jabs, and that trend continued into the eighth, as Berlanga just couldn’t seem to get out of the way as Rolls doubled and trebled up on the shots.
It looked like ‘The Chosen One’ needed to win the last two rounds to be in contention, and he caught Rolls with a big uppercut in the penultimate frame, and that seemed to trouble him for the rest of the round.
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The 24-year-old sensed he had got to his man, and he cranked up the pressure in the final round, but he was unable to force a finish, as the fight went to the scorecards.
Two scores of 97-93, and a third at 96-94 gave Berlanga the win, but it was barely deserved.
Zayas continues unbeaten streak
On the undercard, Puerto Rican prospect, Xander Zayas remained unbeaten, taking an eight round points win against Quincy LaVallais (12-3-1, 7 KOs) at super welterweight.
Two scores of 80-72 and a third at 80-71 moved Zayas to 13-0 (9 KOs).
John Bauza (17-0, 7 KOs) also remained undefeated, and the super lightweight took an eight round decision win against Tony Luis (29-5, 10 KOs) by scores of 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74.
Henry Lebron (15-0, 10 KOs) impressed, stopping Josec Ruiz in the seventh of their eight rounder at super featherweight, and at welterweight, Jahi Tucker (7-0, 4 KOs) was victorious in a six round win on the cards against Tracey McGruder (6-2, 4 KOs), by two scores at 59-55, and a third at 60-54.
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Hot prospect, Bruce Carrington moved to 3-0 (2 KOs) with a fifth round stoppage of Year Andujar (5-5-1, 3 KOs) at super featherweight, and at super lightweight, Armani Almestica (5-0, 5 KOs) scored a third round stoppage against Luis Valentin Portalatin (3-4, 1 KO).
Kelvin Davis (4-0, 3 KOs) took just over a minute to see off Phillip Carmouche (2-3) at welterweight.