BN: How significant is this weekend’s fight, given the grand plans for your future?
I take all my fights serious, but this one is different. Y’know, this is more personal towards me. After a year being off; new promoter; being back with my old team; possibly fighting Canelo this year, so there’s a lot that comes into it, man. I’ve been busting my ass at the gym; working on a lot of different things, man. This is either gonna make me or break me, this fight.
Quigley’s a great fighter. You go on social media, people are all talking shit, saying, “This guy’s an Uber driver”. He’s a threat to me and the 168lbs division. He’s going in there as the best version of himself, like everybody did. [Past opponent Roamer Alexis] Angulo came in overweight to have an advantage over me. Every fighter that fights me comes in different. I’m a different fighter; I’m not who I was last year. Last year I was an injured fighter; this year I’m different, man. I feel like the sky’s the limit.
[Someone of Puerto Rican descent fighting an Irishman in New York] is important. You got my sister, Amanda Serrano, that fought Katie Taylor and it did crazy numbers. You seen that it was a crazy packed house in The Garden; it’s gonna be another night like that. Ireland versus Puerto Rico is something crazy; we’re both warriors; there’s no quit in us; no quit in them. It’s gonna be an amazing night.
BN: What have you been told about pursuing Saul Alvarez?
For us to work our way to get to that fight. Y’know, that’s the main goal for anybody in the 168lbs division. A top dog wants the king; he has all the titles, so who wouldn’t want to fight him? That’s something that’s on the horizon, but I gotta handle business; I gotta destroy Quigley; I gotta look the best I’ve ever looked in my career to make that statement.
It was spoken about with Matchroom. “This is the fight that could possibly happen.” Win impressively; win big. Focus on the 24th; destroy this guy; look good; perform to my best ability to show out. Then we’ll be talking up that fight.
It could be my next fight. Eddie [Hearn] didn’t say, “Oh, this is gonna be your next fight”, but it’s going around that Canelo and [Dmitrii] Bivol’s fight isn’t happening, David Benavidez is up in the air; him and [Jermall] Charlo’s up in the air; so, people are looking around, wondering who he could fight next. “Oh shit, Berlanga – Berlanga’s fighting the 24th. Oh, Berlanga’s Puerto Rican. Oh, he’s from New York. Oh, he’s gonna be 21-0. Okay, this is something that could happen. He’s with the same promoter”. It’s easy.
BN: What did you make of his performance last month against John Ryder?
He did good. Y’know, he broke John Ryder down. I mean, you seen his face – he was all bloody. If John Ryder would’ve pushed a little bit more, I think Canelo would’ve still won. I think Canelo did his thing.
Possibly [he’s in decline]. I seen a little bit of it with Ryder – I just feel like right now, he’s still a king at 168, so everybody’s gonna look at him. He can’t always look that good. Next fight he’ll probably jump back into who he was a year ago; two years ago.
[The Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry], that’s something big; I know that’s why everybody’s pushing for that. They feel like if they make that fight happen, it’s gonna be crazy sales on pay-per-view.
I actually called [Ryder] out last year – trying to make the fight when I was with Top Rank, and they didn’t want to make the fight happen. He wound up taking a fight with Zach Parker, and then he wound up getting the Canelo fight. That was crazy; we were trying to call out Ryder, not knowing that that fight was leading to the Canelo fight. That’s another fight – it’d be a great fight that could happen.
He’s crazy [for wanting to fight Bivol in a rematch]. I don’t think that was gonna happen at all. [Bivol] wanted him to come to 168; to fight for all the titles at 168. Canelo wanted to go up to 175 – this dude’s a giant at 175. I don’t think he can win [a rematch at 175lbs]. If Bivol drops to 168lbs I think it’ll be a different outcome, for sure. If Canelo goes back to who he was, I think there’s a possibility [he can win at 168lbs], yeah.
BN: You and David Benavidez are widely considered to be coming up behind Alvarez. How good a fighter is he?
He’s a beast. He’s one of the top dogs at 168. He’s proven himself each and every fight. He’s just looking for those big-money fights, and I feel he’s one of the top dogs at 168.
BN: How much are you relishing having reunited with your trainer Marc Farrait?
It’s amazing, man. I’ve never been so happy, man. I’m back with the guy that made me, y’know? It’s different when you have a guy that knows you in and out. He’s knows me; he knows what to do to take the best out of me; he’s the guy that invented that monster instinct inside me; he brought it out of me. I’m looking different; I’m feeling different; I’m in the gym. I’m stopping sparring partners. It’s different, man. My mindset is different; my IQ is different. I’m excited.
Hell yeah, it was a mistake [to split with him]. I feel like if I’d stayed with him I would be in a way different position right now. It was reasons outside of boxing [that led to us splitting]. There was never no beef between me and him; we just had to part ways. When we parted ways, we ended up both deciding that we needed to get back. I see my last fights [without him] and don’t see me – it was weird.
There’s also chemistry. Me leaving him, and going from trainer to trainer – it really hit me that as a fighter, you gotta have chemistry with your coach. That’s so important, man. You have to have a guy that knows you – that knows how to bring the best out of you. If you have a guy that knows how to get the best out of you – that knows what triggers you to get that killer instinct out of you, then that’s the guy you gotta stay with.
My career’s just getting started. It’s a brand new start for me. I’m with a new promoter; I’m back with my old trainer; I’m still fresh. I haven’t taken any punishment in the sport of boxing. You see my face. I’m still me. If I was with Mark, I would’ve been 20-0 with 20 knockouts right now.
BN: Do you fight with a reduced sense of a pressure since your run of first-round knockouts ended?
Yeah, for sure. I needed those rounds. At this level you need to go rounds – especially to compete with the [Artur] Beterbievs; the [Jermall] Charlos; the Canelos; the Triple Gs [Gennady Golovkin]. Those dudes have done 12 rounds; 20-plus fights. If I can’t get a 10-rounder in, what good am I? I know that I can go those rounds; I know that I can be in there with the best. That’s what’s most important for me.
I didn’t even know about [first-round knockout artist, the late Edwin Valero] until I started knocking people out in the first round. People were like, “Yo, you could probably beat this guy”. “He’s a beast”, but he was fighting real cab drivers. He was fighting – Uber drivers on my app. He was fighting those type of guys. I was fighting guys that fought world champions – look at my Boxrec [page] – I was fighting guys that went the distance with world champions, bro, and I was knocking them out in the first round. That’s the truth.