Saturday’s fight card at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden could provide glimpses of future world champions (ESPN/ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET, with predictions on ESPN+ at 7:10 p.m. ET).
The Top Rank card features two of the promotion’s most exciting prospects — super middleweight Edgar Berlanga and Xander Zayas — in one of the most historic venues in boxing.
Two undefeated prospects will be looking to continue their journey in the sport this weekend in boxing. Junior welterweight Keyshawn Davis, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist, was scheduled to face Esteban Sanchez on the New York card, but was forced to pull out due to illness.
Here’s a look at all three interesting prospects ahead of this weekend’s clashes.
To Edgar Berlan
Background: The 24-year-old Berlanga, who hails from Brooklyn, New York, had a solid hobby background. He was runner-up at the 2013 USA Boxing Olympic Junior National Championships and turned professional at the age of 18.
That’s when his KO streak began. Berlanga began his professional career with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts, which was heavily marketed when he signed with Top Rank in 2019. This helped him gain a significant level and gained him a lot of followers. This streak was finally stopped in April 2021 when he went all eight rounds against Demon Nicholson.
Skill set: Berlanga’s strength was evident throughout his early career. He has good power in both hands, especially when throwing a hook that lands on a lead left or right hand. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he’s hitting 42.8% of his power shots, 8% above the division average.
However, Berlanga showed some sensitivity in his last fight against Marcelo Coceres. Coceres defeated Berlanga for the first time in his professional career. According to CompuBox, of Coceres’ 101 total strikeouts, 70 were strikes.
Outlook: Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) is getting closer to a real contender in the middleweight division. His next opponent, Steve Rolls, is his toughest opponent to date. Rolls’ only loss is against Gennady Golovkin, a former professional middleweight champion.
What they say: “I’ve been in the camp of a lot of guys at the world championship level. Unfortunately, a lot of them can cut corners sometimes. I can’t say that about Edgar at all. He’s one of those workhorses in the gym. He doesn’t do that. He’s like 100% business. I respect that about him a lot.” — Middleweight Niko Ali-Walsh, who sparred with Berlanga to prepare for this fight.
Background: Zayas, 19, from Puerto Rico, started boxing at the age of 5 and moved to Florida at the age of 11. He is a two-time USA Boxing National Champion, and if he met the age requirement at the time, Zayas was a lock. to represent the USA at the 2020 Olympics. Instead, Zayas made history when he signed with Top Rank as a 16-year-old, becoming the youngest fighter to sign with the promotion.
Zayas (12-0, 9 KOs) has not let restrictions from COVID-19 stop him from progressing in his career. The teenage middleweight has already fought 12 times, eight of which have occurred since the start of the pandemic.
Skill set: Zayas was especially aggressive compared to other middleweights. According to CompuBox, he lands 73.6 shots per round, a staggering 17 shots above the division average. These are not all soft bullets. He connects on 43% of his power shots, which is stellar.
But his thinking is just as impressive. Veteran trainer Luis Espada, who owns other Puerto Rican fighters such as junior heavyweight champion Jonathan “Bomba” Gonzalez and junior challenger Jose Pedraza, said Zayas’ maturity is one of the reasons he will soon become a world champion.
Outlook: Zayas is still very early in his career. His upcoming bout against Quincy LaValle is the first of an eight-round bout. Of course, this does not mean that things will go away. Four of Zayas’ past five fights have ended by stoppage before the fifth round. It will be a while before Zayas is considered a title contender. But so far, he has retained the ambition that followed him from amateur to pro. ESPN named him a 2021 prospect.
What they say: “He has something that can’t be taught or learned. He has a killer instinct [Wilfredo] Gomes, like Tito [Felix Trinidad] did, like [Edwin] Rosario did. When they hurt you, they know what to do and finish the fight.” — Luis Espada, trainer for 25 years, via translator.
Background: Davis, 23, may be the most exciting prospect in the Top Rank stable. After returning from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Davis was a free agent. He turned pro in early 2021, and he already impressed on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez fight at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Davis (4-0, 3 KOs) and his brother Kelvin both signed promotional deals with Top Rank. In his first fight on his debut contract, Keyshawn easily defeated Jose Zaragoza, and in December 2021, on the Vasyl Lomachenko-Richard Commey undercard, he won by technical second round.
Skill set: It’s easy to see why Davis was such an accomplished Olympian. He has solid speed, good reflexes and excellent fundamentals. Last April against Richman Ashley, Davis landed a left hook to the body that stopped Zaragoza at the end of the year.
Outlook: Davis has been forced to pull out of a planned fight against Esteban Sanchez due to the virus related to COVID-19, Top Rank announced. But it’s a minor speed bump for a fighter looking to accelerate his career. The Davis-Sanchez bout was rescheduled for April 30 on the undercard of the junior championship fight between Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez in Las Vegas.
What they say: “Signing a key is like signing a No. 1 prospect for a D-1 school — you know one day he’s going to play on Sundays. Keyshawn is going to be a generational talent and the face of boxing for years to come.” — Carl Moretti, vice president of operations for Top Rank Boxing.