By Chris Williams: Undefeated super middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga kept his early knockout streak alive with a first-round knockout win over journeyman Lanell Bellows (20-6-3, 13 KOs) on Saturday night on ESPN at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Referee Robert Hoyle pulled the plug on the fight after the 23-year-old Berlanga landed a big left hook that sent the 34-year-old Bellows falling back against the ropes.
Bellows was definitely hurt, but he was still on his feet and looked like he would have been able to continue if not for the referee stopping the fight so fast. It looked peculiar. There should have been a standing eight count to let Bellows a chance to regroup and continue fighting.
The time of the stoppage was at 1:19 of round one. It’s debatable whether Bellows would have made it out of the round. We’ll never know, unfortunately, because the referee jumped in prematurely and halted the fight. Did the referee spaz out when he saw Bellows back up against the ropes?
It was strange looking for the referee to stop it. That was one of the worst stoppages Chris Williams has seen in a while, which makes me wonder about Berlanga’s previous 14 first-round knockouts. Were some of them premature stoppages like tonights? It wouldn’t be surprising.
Hopefully, we don’t continue to see Berlanga scoring first-round knockouts in the same manner, as boxing fans will start wondering whether his fights are being stopped prematurely to artificially keep his first-round knockout streak alive.
Top Rank needs to thinking about putting Berlanga in with better opposition because he’s not getting anything out of mowing down the substandard opposition that they’ve been feeding him.
There are amateur fighters that are fighting better opposition than Berlanga, and they’re able to develop into good fighters.
Top Rank isn’t going to be able to improve Berlanga if they continue to match him against dreadful opposition. How is Berlanga going to improve with him facing poor opposition? He would get better experience if he were in the amateur ranks facing the best around the world instead of fighting in the ranks against terrible fighters.
It would be nice if Top Rank matches Berlanga against some of these fighters:
- David Benavidez
- Daniel Jacobs
- Aidos Yerbossynuly
- Demetrius Andrade
- David Lemieux
- Joshua Buatsi
- Badou Jack
- Gilberto Ramirez
- Marcus Browne
I threw in some light heavyweights because Berlanga is as big as those guys already. He’s able to meltdown obviously still to make 168, but he looks just as big as any of the top light heavyweights.
Berlanga is ranked #9 with the WBO and #11 with the WBA. If he keeps winning like this, he’ll get pushed up the rankings and will get a title shot in a year or two. However, as big as Berlanga is right now, it’s questionable whether he’ll still be able to make the 168-lb limit in a couple of years.
Edgar can probably make weight for the division in 2021, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to meltdown in 2022.
As I was saying, Berlanga looked like a light-heavyweight  fighting a super middleweight tonight. The size disparity between the two fighters was absurd.
Bellows was a lot smaller and lighter looking.
If Berlanga did have to move up to 175 soon, he would have to tangle with fellow Top Rank fighters Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol.
Beterbiev hits just as hard as Berlanga if not harder, but he’s got more technical boxing skills than him. Berlanga would have problems with Beterbiev’s power and overall talent and experience.
Top Rank likely won’t let Berlanga anywhere near Beterbiev, though, as they’re trying to build him up into a star. Beterbiev potentially ruins their plans by knocking out Berlanga without him cashing in.
If Top Rank waits long enough, Beterbiev will age enough to where Berlanga can possibly beat him. Right now, Berlanga would be food for Beterbiev.