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In a surprising move, Top Rank and up-and-comer Edgar Berlanga agreed to end their promotional deal on Wednesday, signing a separation agreement that makes the unbeaten super middleweight a free agent.
“We have mutually decided to part ways and we wish him the best of the luck in the future,” Top Rank spokesman Evan Korn told Fight Freaks Unite.
Top Rank and Berlanga’s team, namely manager Keith Connolly, have been at odds over the direction of his career and the value of his bouts. The irreconcilable differences resulted in the separation.
“I’m officially a promotional free agent,” Berlanga said in a statement given to Fight Freaks Unite. “I want to thank Top Rank, (chairman) Bob Arum and ESPN for the last few years. I'm excited for the future and will be waiting for my manager to tell me what the next move is. I've sold out the Theater at Madison Square Garden. I've set a goal for myself to sell out the big room at MSG and throw the biggest party at the Garden that Puerto Rican fans have ever seen. I can’t wait for the future.”
Berlanga (20-0, 16 KOs), a 25-year-old Puerto Rican from Brooklyn, New York, began his career with 16 consecutive first-round KOs and was the hottest prospect in boxing. As the KO streak went on he received enormous hype from Top Rank and ESPN, its broadcast partner.
But as Berlanga stepped up his opposition over his past four fights, he has gone either the eight- or 10-round distance and suffered the first knockdown of his career in the ninth round against former world title challenger Marcelo Esteban Coceres on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III card in 2021.
In his last fight on June 11, Berlanga outpointed former world title challenger Roamer Alexis Angulo at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden but drew a six-month suspension and a $10,000 fine from the New York State Athletic Commission for attempting to bite Angulo during the bout and then joking about it during his post-fight interview.
Berlanga apologized for the incident and did not try to appeal the suspension. It ended on Dec. 11 and Top Rank and Connolly could not come to an agreement on what the next move should be for Berlanga’s career.
Berlanga was 9-0 when Top Rank signed him in 2019 and put him on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan undercard at Madison Square Garden and as he continued scoring first-round knockouts he began attracting more and more fans to his fights, especially from the Puerto Rican community.
Berlanga photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
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A six-month suspension in this era is no punishment at all. Berlanga gonna get KTFO when he steps up to someone in the top 10.
The "Cash Out" coming to an MSG Theater near you soon. Munguía, Jermall, Morrell Jr, loser of Benavidez/Plant. My money is on Mall. Even Berlanga is better than Juan Montiel Macias, maybe. That Tune Up was nearly two years ago btw, and still no Mandos for Mall? Thank You Al Haymon 🙏