Why watch a movie about boxing this year, when the most exciting action is right in the ring?
I was pondering what to write about for boxing day this year. Would I go classic and hit up Raging Bull? Maybe look for a TV show centered around the ring? Then it hit me. Well, it hit other people. Really hard. This year I want to introduce you to one of the sports newest, most exciting fighters: Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga Jr.
Tale of the Tape
Edgar Berlanga Jr. is a super-middleweight fighting under a pseudonym to hide the fact that he is actually the love-child of Vegeta and a Sherman Tank. He started boxing at the age of 7, putting in a paltry sum of 179 fights as an amateur. Once he hit the pros, he kept up that blistering pace, fighting 16 times since his debut in April of 2016.
He can keep up that work output for two reasons: firstly, he’s young and full of energy. Secondly, and the reason you really should be watching this kid, is that HE KNOCKS EVERYONE OUT IN THE FIRST ROUND. All of them. Even some bad looking dude from Compton. Not Inglewood, not Long Beach. Compton. No-one has gone 2 rounds with him. And these aren’t tomato cans; many of the victims of Berlanga’s fists have NEVER been stopped in a fight previous to meeting this dude.
Having tied the record for most consecutive fights won in the first round is impressive, but so is how he does it. A young Mike Tyson was a physical freak, managing to break physics by swinging fist shaped cinderblocks at the speed of light. That speed goes away eventually. Berlanga has boxing chops: a solid jab, good footwork and ring generalship, and a shark’s nose for when he’s finally hurt the other fighter enough to end things. He doesn’t just run out throwing haymakers, he whittles guys down with honest to god boxing before coming in for the kill.
Since Covid-19 decided to be the undisputed champion of the USA, boxing has actually gotten… better? Top Rank bouts, at least. They’ve rented out a bubble in Las Vegas, and no-one comes in without first testing negative. Almost nobody is ringside, so camera/cell-phone flashes and crowd noise don’t interfere with the sweet science. It’s well lit, so you can see and hear everything. Everything.
This leads to some compelling action. Someone throws a digging hook, and you can hear the sick, meaty, thwap. You can see the welts and leather burns develop in well lit, HD quality. Basically it’s the most visceral boxing could get without you being in the ring yourself. Pair that with a human wrecking ball, and you got the goods, baby.
“But aren’t Berlanga’s fights too short to be enjoyable?”, you ask. Not really. Like I said, he’s got the tools, and he uses them. Instead of a flash down like most 1 round maulings, there’s a setup and a payoff. He finds his range. He digs the body to drag the opponent into his style of fight. Then he crushes them. It’s like having a 12 round Rocky fight distilled into 3 minutes of carnage. I love it.
You will too. Berlanga is trying to get another fight set up for this coming March. Given America’s insistence to run directly towards a plague, that fight will most likely be in a bubble again. Do yourself a favor and watch one of the most exciting prospects boxing has put out in years.