Opinion: Struggling Edgar Berlanga must pay price for biting Roamer Angulo

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Edgar Berlanga is in trouble, in more ways than one.

The young man who caused a sensation by starting his career with 16 consecutive first-round knockouts is suddenly trying to find himself as a fighter. And, as if that wasn’t challenging enough, he now could face the consequences of biting opponent Roamer Alexis Angulo on Saturday at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Berlanga outpointed the 38-year-old Colombian – his fourth consecutive decision – but no one would describe his performance as impressive. He did just enough to win, which isn’t a path to the stardom he and his team envision for him.

His punching power seems to have been reserved only for third-tier opposition.

He could say, “Well, I’ve fought only 54 professional rounds. I’m still developing.” Or, “I followed the game plan. No need to pursue a knockout.” Or, “I’m transitioning to new trainer Juan De Leon.” True, true and true.

Still, the fact is he looked ordinary, just as he did in his previous three fights. That should be alarming to him and those around him, including ESPN.

The Brooklyn product’s own hometown fans didn’t boo him as the non-eventful fight progressed but they clearly became restless for lack of anything to cheer for. They were uninspired, which is another bad sign for Berlanga.

And the Mike Tyson-like bite?

Berlanga clearly opened his mouth and made contact with the neck of Angulo in the seventh round, although it’s not clear whether or how hard clamped down.

We know this: Angulo recoiled when it happened, similar to the way Evander Holyfield reacted when Tyson went berserk and chewed off a portion of his ear in 1997.

Referee Ricky Gonzalez evidently didn’t see what happened, which obviously would have been grounds to disqualify Berlanga. He avoided that indignity but we all saw what we saw, both live and in repeated replays.

Promoter Lou DiBella spoke for all of us when he tweeted: “If you bite your opponent like you’re a rabid dog you should be disqualified.”

Berlanga didn’t deny that it happened. He merely tried to dismiss it in a strange post-fight interview, joking that “I was about to do a Mike Tyson on him” because Angulo had been elbowing him.

It was no joke.

The New York State Athletic Commission will have no choice but to suspend Berlanga for his actions or risk universal ridicule. The NYSAC must say with its own actions that such behavior is not acceptable.

I would suspend him for six months, which would cost him one fight. That would give him time think about how he’ll battle the inner demons that surfaced at that moment and convinced him to become a cannibal.

It would also give him and his team time to take a step back, assess his performances since the knockout streak ended and determine the best path forward in an attempt to maintain his teetering status as a relevant fighter.

It won’t be easy. I wouldn’t say that Berlanga’s reputation is shot but a once-high-flying career now appears to be in a tailspin.

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