THERE were no real winners in Edgar Berlanga’s unanimous 12 round decision over Jason Quigley at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.
At the fight’s conclusion, Berlanga was in damage control mode, as was his promoter Eddie Hearn. After initially giving himself a grade of C for his inability to stop Quigley, Berlanga soon cast blame on his opponent. “I knew that Quigley would just try to survive,” he said.
Not exactly. Although the Irishman showed a very healthy respect for Berlanga’s power and kept on the move for the majority of the contest, he did come to win and fought back when able to. Berlanga was clearly frustrated, though, despite scoring four knockdowns in all and winning widely on the scorecards of judges Max DeLuca and Frank Lombardi (116-108) and Nicolas Esnault (118-106). BN had it 116-109 for Berlanga. Harvey Dock refereed.
Berlanga, fighting for the first time under the Matchroom banner, had been deemed by Hearn to be a superstar in the making. Therefore, anything short of a victory inside the distance would at the very least be considered a semi failure; something that Berlanga’s sagging body language afterward confirmed.
Hearn would say how a quick stoppage would not have benefitted Berlanga as much as the rounds he got under his belt. But he could not have been happy with the result. With Canelo Alvarez signing a three-fight deal with the PBC, Hearn’s plans to move Berlanga toward a fight with him vanished. Instead, the names of John Ryder and Billy Joe Saunders were thrown into the mix by Hearn (who promotes both). Jaime Munguia was also mentioned, but seeing as he’s with Golden Boy Promotions that would be a far more difficult match to make.
As for Quigley, it is hard to see where he goes from here. He can still be a force on the domestic level, but that is about it.
Andy Lee, the trainer of Quigley, misread the amount of success his man was having. A case in point would be the fifth round when Quigley was dropped. Once Jason got back to the corner, Lee told him he had won the round. Then, at the end of the fight, Lee hoisted Quigley into the air as if he expected them to get the decision.
The first consequential moment occurred in the third round. Gaining in confidence, Quigley was starting to score with blows as he moved in and out. But late in the round Berlanga cornered him and landed a left hook and a chopping right which sent Quigley down on the lower ropes.
Berlanga then started to control the match working behind a stiff jab while trying to track Quigley down. In the fifth he dropped Quigley again with a left hook to the body. Dock put a quick end to Quigley’s claim that it was a slip, saying to the fighter, “He hit you.”
Quigley boxed effectively rounds six through eight. In the seventh both simultaneously landed hooks which moved the other. Quigley took a few more chances and even fought off the ropes for short intervals. But Berlanga remained dangerous and landed hurtful body blows in the ninth.
Berlanga won the 10th, but Quigley came back in the 11th, making it appear that this one was going to the scorecards.
Then it happened. Midway in the final session, Brooklyn’s Berlanga landed a thunderbolt of a right. Quigley pitched forward and went down, hurt. He was in desperate trouble when he regained his feet and the crowd were in a frenzy. A spectacular finish looked in the works. Berlanga chased Quigley around the ring desperately trying to end it. Unable to hold Berlanga off, Quigley took a knee to avoid the onslaught, getting up at nine. With so little time remaining Quigley was able to see it out to the finish, making it five fights in a row where touted puncher Berlanga has gone the distance.
“The last round is how we’ll start every fight from now on,” said Berlanga, issuing a pledge that will be hard to keep.
Adam Kownacki’s hope of re-emerging as a heavyweight contender ended at MSG when he was stopped at 2:00 of the eighth round of a scheduled 10 against Virginia’s Joe Cusumano. It was Kownacki’s fourth straight defeat and for all intents and purposes ends his career, one he can be proud of.
The head movement Kownacki’s new trainer Sugar Hill was asking for was missing, which meant Cusumano tagged the Miami-based Polish boxer repeatedly. Kownacki was knocked down and hurt badly toward the end of the first round, but fought back valiantly and had his moments behind an effective jab. Moving forward and forcing the fight it looked like Kownacki had turned things around by the end of the third round, but then Cusumano got his second wind.
By the seventh round Kownacki was getting hit so often that his manager Keith Connolly reportedly asked the fighter’s family if they wanted it stopped. However, Kownacki, showing the heart of a champion, would then put together a tremendous rally that had the crowd on its feet. It got him an unfortunate reprieve as Cusumano, stopped in one round by Daniel Dubois two years ago, weathered the storm before he started to again unload on Kownacki in the eighth. As the towel went flying into the ring, referee David Fields stopped the fight a few punches too late.