Edgar Berlanga will lose a piece of his paycheck and a possible place on a prominent year-end card thanks to his recent in-ring misconduct.
The New York State Athletic Commission officially levied a six-month suspension and $10,000 fine on the unbeaten Nuyorican super middleweight, the ruling on Friday confirming a previous report from BoxingScene.com. The punishment stems from Berlanga’s actions in a June 11 ESPN-televised win over Roamer Alexis Angulo, when the Brooklyn native attempted to bite the former title challenger in the seventh round of their main event at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.
The act went undisciplined by referee Ricky Gonzalez in real time, but was immediately picked up by the NYSAC in the days after the event. The show marked the first time that Berlanga (20-0, 16KOs) fought on the eve of the 65th annual National Puerto Rican Day parade which is held in midtown Manhattan.
Poor judgment on his part will now cost him a potential spot on another show that has become an annual Top Rank/ESPN tradition. The promoter and platform have paired up to present a boxing event at MSG property immediately following the annual Heisman Award ceremony honoring the nation’s top college football player. Such a show has run every year since 2017 when Top Rank first took all of its business to ESPN, with the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic.
Having emerged as one of the promoter’s top ticket sellers, Berlanga was a likely candidate to land on the show which would take place December 10. The six-month suspension leaves the 25-year-old ineligible to return to the ring until the following day at the earliest.
As is the case with all commission-imposed suspensions, the offending party is afforded an appeal process. However, BoxingScene.com has learned that Berlanga and Top Rank will comply with the commission ruling as the boxer’s actions were caught live on ESPN’s cameras and, thus, indefensible.
The bite overshadowed the latest victory in the career of Berlanga, who has now gone the distance in four straight fights after scoring 16 consecutive first-round knockouts to begin his career.
Immediately after the fight, Berlanga laughed off the incident in question. He insisted that it was in retaliation to numerous elbows thrown by Colombia’s Angulo (27-3, 23KOs), whose only prior defeats came in title bids against Gilberto Ramirez and David Benavidez.
“He was throwing elbows. I was about to do a Mike Tyson on him,” Berlanga noted immediately after the fight, referencing Tyson’s biting off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear in their June 1997 rematch, which earned the Hall of Fame former heavyweight champ a one-year suspension and a record $3,000,000 fine as ruled by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. “He kept throwing his elbows, and I didn’t want to get cut.
To his credit, Berlanga walked back his own comments and offered a heartfelt apology less than a day later.
“I want to apologize for my actions and what I said yesterday about the Mike Tyson bite,” Berlanga stated in a two-part tweet this past Sunday. “I was in the moment and I got a little ahead of myself. It doesn’t take away from the embarrassment that I have caused upon myself, my team, [Top Rank], and many others.
“I reacted poorly and take full responsibility. Moving forward, I am going to be more mindful and encouraging in my behavior. Once again, I do apologize.”
Despite the Tyson reference, the incident was more in line with the last bite fight in New York. Fringe contender Ivan Redkach was issued a one-year suspension and $10,000 fine by the NYSAC for biting former two-division champion Danny Garcia in the eighth round of their January 2020 welterweight title eliminator. The two were in a clinch in the final minute of the round, when Redkach leaned in and bit Garcia on the side of his neck.
Garcia laughed off the incident in real time, though did acknowledge the act to referee Benjy Esteves at the time. Redkach was not deducted any points for the infraction, though he was dealt a harsher blow in the days following the event.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox