Berlanga vs. Rolls & Zayas vs. LaVallais on March 19th, LIVE on ESPN
Three future fistic superstars are set to unite under the Madison Square Garden spotlight.
Brooklyn-born super middleweight sensation Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga will defend his NABO belt against crafty Canadian Steve Rolls in the 10-round main event Saturday, March 19, at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Berlanga, whose family hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico, makes his main event debut in his stiffest test to date.
In the junior middleweight co-feature, 19-year-old Puerto Rican star Xander Zayas will fight in his first scheduled eight-rounder against Louisiana-born spoiler Quincy “Chico” LaVallais.
The eight-round televised opener will see the return of lightweight U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis against Mexican veteran Esteban Sanchez.
Berlanga-Rolls, Zayas-LaVallais, and Davis-Sanchez will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with DiBella Entertainment, tickets starting at $51 go on sale Friday, Jan. 28 at noon ET and can be purchased by visiting Ticketmaster.com or MSG.com.
“Edgar, Xander, and Keyshawn are future pound-for-pound superstars, and it will be a special evening in front of a sold-out New York City crowd,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “All three are in there with the toughest fights of their respective careers, but I expect them to pass with flying colors.”
Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) took the boxing world by storm with 16 straight first-round knockouts to open his pro career. He went the distance twice in 2021, opening his campaign in April by knocking down Demond Nicholson four times in eight rounds in an ESPN-televised rout. Berlanga returned on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III card in October, defeating Marcelo Esteban Coceres via a 10-round unanimous decision despite suffering a torn biceps in the third round and the first knockdown of his career in the ninth.
Berlanga said, “I’m so excited to fight in my first main event in my hometown. It’s a dream come true for a fighter representing New York City and Puerto Rico. I can’t wait to show the world what I’m truly about. We are going to blow the roof off the Hulu Theater, so grab your tickets early and get your popcorn ready for this performance.”
Rolls (21-1, 12 KOs), a 37-year-old from Toronto, is an 11-year pro who was an undefeated middleweight contender before moving up in weight. In June 2019, he challenged pound-for-pound stalwart Gennadiy Golovkin at Madison Square Garden and found some success in the second round before being stopped in the fourth. Rolls has tallied two wins since the Golovkin bout, most recently knocking out Christopher Brooker in the ninth round last month on the Artur Beterbiev-Marcus Browne undercard in Montreal.
Rolls said, “I’m happy to be back headlining at Madison Square Garden. Training camp has been going well, and I feel very strong with nothing but war on my mind. Berlanga has power, but I’ll be ready for whatever he brings. I’m looking forward to March 19. I’ll see you then.”
Zayas (12-0, 9 KOs) had a breakthrough in 2021, going 6-0 with four knockouts while being mentioned prominently in Prospect of the Year debates. He made his Madison Square Garden debut last December and finished his 2021 campaign by knocking out Alessio Mastronunzio in the first round. He steps up against LaVallais (12-2-1, 7 KOs), who notched a December 2020 upset over Clay Collard at the MGM Grand Bubble. LaVallais, who is 2-2 since the Collard victory, has never been knocked out.
Zayas said, “It’s an honor to fight again at Madison Square Garden, where I know my Puerto Rican people will come out to show their support. 2021 was a great year, but I’m looking forward to an even bigger 2022. Quincy LaVallais is a solid veteran, so I can’t overlook him. I want to make a major statement on March 19.”
Davis (4-0, 3 KOs), from Norfolk, Virginia, won three bouts in the first five months of 2021 before journeying to Tokyo and earning a silver medal. He then signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank and improved to 4-0 with a second-round stoppage over Jose Zaragoza on December 11. Davis makes his 2022 debut against Sanchez (18-1, 8 KOs), a 23-year-old from Ensenada, Mexico, who has won two straight bouts and will be making his American debut.
Davis said, “I put on a show at Madison Square Garden in December, and I’m going to do it again. Esteban Sanchez is supposed to be my hardest fight as a pro, but it’s going to be easy work. The Davis Brothers are coming to represent Norfolk and leave no doubt that we are the future of boxing.”
Undercard action will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ and is scheduled to include a host of undefeated talents, including Puerto Rican junior welterweight John “El Terrible” Bauza (16-0, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder, welterweight, and Berlanga’s New York City stablemate Pablo “Pretty Boy” Valdez (6-0, 5 KOs) in a six-round attraction, Puerto Rican junior lightweight Henry “Moncho” Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) in an eight-rounder, and a four-rounder featuring junior welterweight Kelvin Davis (3-0, 2 KOs).
ALL GUESTS AGE 5 AND OLDER are required to provide proof they have received either two doses of a two-shot COVID-19 vaccination or one dose of a single-shot vaccine.
Fully vaccinated guests are not required to wear a mask. Please note that full COVID-19 vaccination means the day of your event is at least 14 days after your final vaccine dose. Everyone else age two and older must wear a mask while in the venue, except while actively eating or drinking.
Government mandates, venue protocols, and event requirements are also subject to change, so be sure to continue to check MSG.com for the latest information.
HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, N.Y. BIRTHDATE: May 18, 1997
WEIGHT CLASS: Super Middleweight HEIGHT: 6-1
PROFESSIONAL RECORD: 18-0 (16 KOs) STANCE: Orthodox
TRAINER: Andre Rozier
Edgar Berlanga is best known for the 16-fight first round knockout streak that kicked off his pro career. Yet the highly touted super middleweight prospect has had a long journey in the sport since he first picked up the gloves at the age of seven. Berlanga grew up in the talent-laden New York boxing scene alongside multiple future stars of the sport.
Berlanga’s father, Edgar, Sr., introduced him to boxing shortly after he returned home from prison. He connected his son with friend and boxing coach, Benny Roman, and it wasn’t long before Berlanga’s natural talent shone through. Shortly after his first sparring session, they entered the youngster in his first Junior Olympic competition. Berlanga opened his young career with 11 straight victories and a future star was born.
Boxing wasn’t the only sport that piqued Berlanga’s interest as a youngster. He loved baseball and was killing it on the basketball court as well but ultimately his dad convinced him that the sweet science offered the most opportunities for Berlanga.
He enjoyed a strong amateur career, securing medals in several national championship events before making the decision to enter the professional ranks in April of 2016. Once Berlanga turned professional, he began to showcase power and explosiveness that he didn’t display as an amateur.
His first-round knockout streak began to catch the attention of the boxing world and he joined forces with promotional powerhouse Top Rank in his 10th professional fight. Berlanga continued his run of first-round knockouts in his Top Rank debut in front of a hometown crowd at Madison Square Garden in April of 2019. Berlanga’s fights quickly became must watch tv as fans and pundits alike watched to see which of his opponents would finally see the second round. The power punching prospect pushed the streak to 16 before was taken the distance in his 17th fight against Demond Nicholson.
He heard the final bell for the second time in his last fight against Marcelo Esteban Coceres on October 9 on the undercard of Tyson Fury – Deontay Wilder III. The outing was quite the learning experience for Berlanga who not only went 10 rounds for the first time but also suffered a bicep tear in the third round of the bout. Berlanga faced
significant adversity for the first time in his young career, but he credits the bout for several lessons. He admits that he was too focused on trying to score the knockout and didn’t utilize his boxing skills but is pleased that he was able to learn so much in a victory.
Shortly after the bout, Berlanga underwent surgery to repair his torn left bicep and has relocated his training camp to Las Vegas to complete the necessary rehab on the injury. He has focused not only on getting healthy but also working on his boxing skillset and can’t wait to showcase the results of his hard work when he steps back into the ring at Madison Square Garden in his hometown on March 19.
Berlanga admits that he was born to be an entertainer and he loves every element of performing for an audience. His charisma, flashy personality and entertaining style has made him quite the celebrity magnet. From friends Tracy Morgan and Fat Joe to superstars Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg as well as fellow athletes of every sport, Berlanga consistently draws big names to his fights. He hopes to add acting to his resume when the time is right, and no one would be surprised to see his bright smile lighting up the big screen.
A proud native of Brooklyn and the lower east side, Berlanga not only represents New York City but also his family’s native Puerto Rico. In fact, some of his earliest memories of the sweet science are watching Felix “Tito” Trinidad fight. He works hard to represent the Puerto Rican people and hopes to be the next great Puerto Rican boxing champion although he understands he has big shoes to fill.
Berlanga knows that he has a lot of eyes on him, and he’s always enjoyed being in the spotlight. It’s important to him to be a good role model for everyone looking up to him and to show young people that they can be anything that they want to be with hard work and sacrifice. He hopes to give the young kids coming behind up a blueprint for success, especially the younger boxers looking to follow in his footsteps.
Yet the biggest motivation in Berlanga’s life is his son, Chosen. He and his girlfriend Genesis Calderon welcomed their beautiful baby boy in 2021 and it has certainly put things in perspective for Berlanga. He knows that he now has a family of his own and it’s his responsibility to provide for his son and show him the way in life just as his parents have done for him.
Berlanga credits both of his parents for teaching him so much and instilling work ethic, drive, and mental toughness in him throughout his life and he looks forward to guiding Chosen through life as his parents have done for him.
Berlanga is currently in Las Vegas preparing for his first main event at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 19. He will take on Steve Rolls in a 10-round super middleweight contest live on ESPN and in front of his hometown crowd.
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