Vargas, Berlanga, Rodriguez, and Kambosos win on MSG undercard
Four prospects looking to become contenders marched on with victories in New York.
Josue Vargas UD-10 Noel Murphy
A competitive scrap all the way through, more than the unanimous 98-92 scores might lead you to believe on paper. I gave Murphy three rounds, so I had it 97-93 Vargas, but Murphy was there and fighting the whole way. It was a good fight, and there was an impressive early crowd on hand at MSG that made for a good atmosphere.
Vargas (16-1, 9 KO) is a 21-year-old Puerto Rican junior welterweight from the Bronx, so he could be a potential star in New York if he pans out. His lone loss came via DQ in 2016, so he doesn’t have any worrisome setback in his past, really, he wasn’t blasted out by someone or anything like that.
Hats off to Murphy (14-2-1, 2 KO) here, too, for throwing with Vargas and hanging in for 10 tough rounds. The native of Cork, Ireland, is also based in New York now, and he could have a good run on some undercards at the very least. He’s scrappy and fun to watch.
Edgar Berlanga TKO-1 Cesar Nunez
The 22-year-old Berlanga, a 160/168 prospect, is now 13-0, 13 knockouts, all in the first round. The first knockdown came in about 15 seconds on a left hook to the ear, and the second came with about 15 seconds left in the round on a body shot where Nunez’ legs eventually just quit on him.
This is all fun stat stuff, but obviously Berlanga is going to actually be tested at some point. So far he’s thrashing guys, and Nunez (16-2-1, 8 KO) has a soft record. Berlanga hasn’t been put in tough at all to date, but he’s young and smoking these guys. Top Rank like him, he’s developing a fan base (he had a clear rooting section here with a fight that started at 7:30 pm ET), and he’s got a style to him. He’s also got the attitude of a guy who comes to seek and destroy, and he doesn’t do it totally recklessly.
Again, eventually someone will be able to take a few shots and go rounds. Then we’ll know more. But he should be on your list of real prospects right now.
Julian Rodriguez UD-8 Manuel Mendez
Interesting fight for Rodriguez (19-0, 12 KO), a 25-year-old junior welterweight prospect from New Jersey. He flashed his power early, dropping Mendez (16-7-3, 11 KO) in the first round, but Rodriguez survived and pushed this the distance, and though Rodriguez won on deservedly wide scores of 79-72, 80-71, and 80-71, he did show some signs of fatigue along the way, having spent a lot of energy early on.
Mendez, 29, is a tough gatekeeper sort who is 1-6-1 in his last eight, but he’s also only been stopped once, and this is his fifth straight fight losing over an eight- or 10-round distance, so he’s the type of guy you can bring in to give a prospect rounds. It’s not glorious work, but it’s valuable. As for “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez, the jury will remain out to a degree until he faces someone with legitimate potential to beat him, but he does have skills and power. There’s work to be done still, but you can see why Top Rank have him on board.
George Kambosos Jr SD-10 Mickey Bey
The split decision isn’t the worst result possible, but my feeling is the right guy won. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 96-93 for Kambosos, while judges had it 95-94 Bey and 96-93 and 97-82 Kambosos.
The 26-year-old lightweight Kambosos goes to 18-0 (10 KO) with a solid step-up win; even considering Bey had only had one fight in the last three years before tonight, and even considering his last relevant fight was a loss to Rances Barthelemy in 2016, and even considering his status as a “former world champion” is a little bit bogus as he was gifted a belt he then never defended, Bey is notably more skilled than the guys Kambosos had fought before. And being fair to Bey — who I’m sure it’s clear is not my favorite fighter to watch — he put in a real effort here, looked in good shape, and probably will get another chance or two, even if it’s in a gatekeeper role.
Bey (23-3-1, 11 KO) is 36 now, though, and he was dropped halfway into the 10th and final round here, which didn’t actually play into the result (Kambosos was winning a split either way). If Mickey wants to really get a shot at climbing the ladder again, he has to pull what will be an upset over someone.