Suspend Edgar Berlanga for being bitten during a boxing match
(Editor’s note: This column originally appeared on Boxing Junkie, part of the USA TODAY Network.)
Edgar Berlanga is in trouble in more ways than one.
The young man who caused a stir by kicking off his career with 16 straight first-round knockouts is suddenly trying to find himself as a fighter. And, as if that weren’t enough, he could now face the aftermath of being bitten by his Roamer opponent Alexis Angulo on Saturday at the Hulu Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Berlanga edged the 38-year-old Colombian – his fourth consecutive decision – but no one would call his performance impressive. He did just enough to win, which is not a path to stardom he and his team envision for him.
His punching power seems to have been reserved only for third-tier opposition.
He might say, “Well, I’ve only fought 54 professional rounds. I am still in development. Or, “I followed the game plan. No need to chase a knockout. Or, “I’m transitioning to new coach Juan De Leon.” True, true, and true.
Still, the thing is, he looked ordinary, just like in his previous three fights. This should be alarming for him and those around him, including ESPN.
Fans in the product’s hometown of Brooklyn didn’t boo him as the uneventful bout progressed, but they clearly grew restless for lack of anything to cheer for. They weren’t inspired, which is another bad sign for Berlanga.
And the Mike Tyson bite?
Berlanga clearly opened his mouth and made contact with Angulo’s neck in the seventh round, although it’s unclear if or how tight he squeezed.
We know this: Angulo backed off when it happened, the same way Evander Holyfield reacted when Tyson went crazy and chewed off part of his ear in 1997.
Referee Ricky Gonzalez obviously didn’t see what happened, which obviously would have been grounds for Berlanga’s disqualification. He avoided that indignity, but we’ve all seen what we’ve seen, both live and in repeated replays.
Promoter Lou DiBella spoke for all of us when he tweeted, “If you bite your opponent like you’re a rabid dog, you should be disqualified.”
Berlanga did not deny it happened. He simply tried to dismiss it in a bizarre post-fight interview, joking that “I was about to do a Mike Tyson on him” because Angulo elbowed him.
It wasn’t a joke.
The New York State Athletic Commission will have no choice but to suspend Berlanga for his actions or risk universal ridicule. The NYSAC must say with its own actions that such behavior is not acceptable.
I would suspend him for six months, which would cost him a fight. It would give him time to think about how he will fight the inner demons that surfaced at that time and convinced him to become a cannibal.
It would also give him and his team time to step back, assess his performance since the knockout streak ended, and figure out the best path forward to try and maintain his shaky status as a fighter. pertinent.
It won’t be easy. I wouldn’t say Berlanga’s reputation is shot, but a once high-flying career now seems to be in freefall.