|Edgar Berlanga vs Steve Rolls||Preview|
|Where||Madison Square Garden|
|When||Saturday, March 19, 8pm ET|
|TV||ESPN+, Sky Sports|
It’s another low-key weekend on the boxing slate, but fans in search of knockouts could do worse than Saturday night’s ESPN super-middleweight main event.
Headlining an event that looks on paper to be carefully designed by the promoter, Top Rank, to be a televised showcase for several of its unbeaten prospects, Edgar Berlanga (18-0 16 KOs) looks to continue his impressive streak in front of a hometown crowd.
Brooklyn-born Berlanga, of Puerto Rican heritage, caught the eye of many observers by racking up sixteen straight wins - all in the first round - over a four-year stretch. Excitement was tempered, however, by Berlanga being taken the distance by a tricky Demond Nicholson (then 23-3-1) last April, and then dropped by Marcelo Esteban Coceres, another modest operator, a few months later. Berlanga, heavily favored in both bouts, did enough to get the win in both, but not without his aura having been diminished somewhat.
At just 24 years old, Berlanga - nicknamed ‘The Chosen One’ - is understandably a work in progress, and it is likely the case that he learned more from his past two contests than anything prior. The sticking point, then, for a man with such ferocious power still learning his trade, is finding opponents to give him rounds, and it’s Toronto’s Steve Rolls (21-1, 12 KOs) who’s been selected by Berlanga’s handlers to undertake this most daunting of assignments.
Berlanga, to nobody’s surprise, is a prohibitive betting favorite here. Odds of -1400 - or a 93.3% implied win chance - are at the generous end of the industry, with other firms going up at -1800 (94.7%), -2000 (95.2%), and even -3300 (97.1%). The bookmakers, in other words, give Rolls only a slither of hope, and while +1000 can be found, a general quote of +800 (11% implied probability) is the most readily available price on the underdog.
Those hoping for an upset will look to the boxing ability of Rolls, with a view to him frustrating Berlanga in the same way that Nicholson did. On paper, Rolls - best known for a four-round defeat at the hands of Gennady Golovkin - lacks the power to trouble Berlanga, with just 57% of his wins coming inside the distance. Now 37, the Canadian is at the tail end of his career and, at three inches shorter than Berlanga, would appear to be in danger of being physically, if not technically, overmatched.
At -350 (78%), the price on a 17th career knockout for Berlanga is too slim to appeal given that both his last two fights went to the cards, but is at odds with his 88% KOs-to-wins percentage. The form guide, though, tells us that when the favorite gets the stoppage, it comes early — and often extremely early. Against a much older, smaller opponent, on home turf, and with a TV opportunity handed to him, the more appealing angle is a small play on a speculative price for Berlanga, with all the advantages stacked in his favor, to start - and finish - fast.
Berlanga vs Rolls pick
Edgar Berlanga in rounds 1-2 (+400 )
The Berlanga vs Rolls main event comes after an action packed undercard from the small room at The Garden. Here's the full running order:
Xander Zayas vs Quincy LaVallais
John Bauza vs Tony Luis
Jahi Tucker vs Tracey McGruder
Henry Lebron vs Josec Ruiz
Kelvin Davis vs Phillip Carmouche
The Edgar Berlanga vs Steve Rolls fight live stream can be found using ESPN+. Both ESPN+ and Sky Sports customers can also stream the Berlanga fight on their smartphones, tablets, iPads and fire sticks.
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