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Edgar Berlanga KO’s Padraig McCrory In Six Rounds, Andy Cruz Fails To Mount KO Streak In Dominant Win

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Edgar Berlanga in the midst of punching Padraig McCrory during their February 24th, 2024, fight at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Matchroom/DAZN)

American super middleweight Edgar Berlanga headlined a Matchroom show alongside Irish contender Padraig McCrory at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida, on February 24th, while Cuban lightweight prospect/contender Andy Cruz racked up his career wins to three following a dominant victory over Mexican opponent Brayan Zamarripa Rodriguez. However, despite the victories of both fighters, some relative improvement still appears needed if they are planning to make the next step towards championship glory.

The undefeated Edgar Berlanga (22-0, 17 KO’s) has had a questionable resume that has prevented him from moving on to become one of the top contenders in the division 168 lbs divison. While Padraig McCrory (18-1, 9 KO’s) was not a top contender himself, Berlanga did pass the test when it came to proving he could potentially contend.

With Berlanga expected to defeat McCrory, the American super middleweight did so in stupendous fashion, winning most―if not all―the rounds like he was supposed to do, and ending the match in dramatic fashion during the sixth and final round of the twelve-round scheduled match.

Unlike his last match [his first under Matchroom], Edgar Berlanga showed he had developed quite well, evident by the placement of his punches which were more varied, a quicker pace of his feet when moving and the overall efficiency of his offense. Defensively also, Berlanga seems to have upped his IQ in that regard and has shown to be worth the status of being a contender.

The first five rounds seemed to go solely Berlanga’s way who outlanded McCrory with an onslaught of punches. McCrory, known as a tough fighter himself, stood strong but seemed unable to deal with Berlanga’s offensive and eventually crumbled in the sixth round after taking an uppercut that dropped him.

Though McCrory attempted to get up, he looked worse for wear―as was noticed by his own corner―and the towel was thrown in not long after his knockdown before he had the chance to beat the count, allowing Edgar Berlanga to claim a victory by knockout.

With a confident display, Edgar Berlanga has continued to set himself apart as a contender but has not yet moved into the position to become the #1 contender in the division, with there still being plenty of higher-ranked opponents than McCrory who he can and should face. However, his dominance asserted him as a super middleweight to watch out for in the future and he find himself in the position to challenge the incumbent super middleweight undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez (60-2-2, 39 KO’s) if his improvement inside and outside the ring continues.

Cuban lightweight Andy Cruz (3-0, 1 KO’s) also resumed his journey to reach the upper echelon of his division when he faced Mexican contender Brayan Zamarripa Rodriguez (14-3, 5 KO’s). During their non-title bout scheduled for ten rounds, Cruz went on to win every single round evident by the scorecards of 100-90 thrice pinpointing him as the obvious and dominant winner by unanimous decision after the conclusion of all the rounds.

However, there are concerns surrounding Cruz’ own ability to push himself in order to stop or knock his opponents out. While Cruz’ defensive and offensive skills were on full display against Rodriguez, his inability to finish Rodriguez may cause him some relative problems when facing tougher fighters.

Throughout the match, Cruz’ punches were crisp and solid, fast and efficient, but there was a clear lack of killer instinct by the Cuban himself that prevented him from netting his second KO/TKO win in a row following his previous victory over Jovanni Straffon (26-6-1, 9 KO’s) last year. However, it should be noted that Brayan Rodriguez has yet to lose by knockout/stoppage despite having lost twice prior.

While Cruz did astoundingly well during his match against Rodriguez by winning every round and proving himself a viable contender in just his third professional fight, he has shown some vulnerabilities in his inability to be the only fighter to finish Rodriguez in the ring. In order to evolve to become a world champion, Cruz will need both the killer instinct and power to be able to overcome the higher-rated fighters in his division, and has thus far not shown the ability to crank up his efforts when needed; showing himself incapable of truly ramping up his pressure or offense when needed.

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Andy Cruz (R) and Brayan Zamarripa Rodriguez (L) during their ten-round lightweight bout at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida, on February 24, 2024. )Photo by Matchroom/DAZN)

During his match with Brayan Rodriguez, Andy Cruz still showed too many semblances of an amateur fighter and will likely need several matches and the appropriate training to insert the finishing ability that will be required of him if he aims on becoming a world champion.

As far as ability goes, however, Cruz did identify himself to be one of the most skilled fighters already despite having only just completed his third fight. His journey in the pro ranks will surely be an interesting watch due to his pedigree as an amateur [having won an Olympic gold medal and numerous other accolades during his stint as an amateur] being expected to yield him the same sort of success as a professional boxer.

Further filling the Matchroom card was a welterweight fight between undefeated Uzbeki contender Shakhram Giyasov (15-0, 9 KO’s) and Mexican contender Pablo Cesar Cano (35-9-1, 25 KO’s) with Giyasov winning nearly every round prior to an ankle injury that Cano suffered leading to a technical decision that went in favor of Giyasov with scores of 109-99 thrice.

American bantamweight contender Antonio Vargas (18-1, 10 KO’s) also moved further up the ladder of the bantamweight division as he dispatched countryman Jonathan Rodriguez (17-2-1, 7 KO’s) in the seventh round of their twelve-round bout. Despite Vargas suffering a knockdown in the first round, Vargas went on to course to a stoppage win in the seventh round to prove his credentials as a potential contender.