My folks always told me “never forget where you came from.” That’s something that can ring true in many ways and situations. Sometimes, it’s drawing back to those very moments that are reflective of your past and upbringing that get you from point A to B. This is most certainly the case with Laurel, Maryland’s Demond “D’Bestatit” Nicholson, 23-3-1 (20 KOs). I’ve been a boxing fan for as long as I can remember. Thinking from the perspective of me being a young kid growing up in the 90’s, I couldn’t have foreseen what would come to be of my future in the world of boxing. As fate would have it, boxing in itself can be very small when viewed from the lens of a local boxing club. I’ll spare all of the granular details, but this is in fact how I ran into Nicholson, literally and figuratively, a few years back.
This just so happened to be at the famed Headbangers boxing gym in Washington, DC. Of course, in a boxing gym, you’re logically going to run into a number of boxers. At any given time there could be a multitude of boxers from all over the area and ‘out-of-towners’ present. Hell, I myself am a DC ‘transplant’ as they call it. Occasionally, though, there are those boxers that stand out from the typical. I’m sure you as the reader can put two and two together but in my case, one of those standout boxers was Nicholson. Our paths crossed on multiple occasions and I’ll spare you the build up, but his talent was undeniable and the fact that he was such a humble athlete really shows the great side of sports.
Nicholson is essentially in the fight of his life this Saturday, April 24, 2021, when he takes on undefeated knockout artist Edgar Berlanga, 16-0 (16 KOs) on Top Rank’s ESPN card taking place live at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida. This being the ‘fight of his life’ isn’t in the literal sense. For that story you have to go back to May, 2019. This was a situation in which Nicholson’s kidney gave out after a weigh-in for a scheduled bout leaving him fighting on the brink of life and death. While Nicholson’s body gave in, the fight in him refused to surrender. After spending time hospitalized, Nichols rose like a rose through concrete as he wasn’t quite done accomplishing what was destined for him in this world. Now an ambassador for the National Kidney Foundation. His journey now extends beyond sport as he literally represents millions who have and are still dealing with kidney issues. His fight is for more than just those for which he’s directly connected as he is now representing those that are at times voiceless.
Nicholsons opponent for Saturday night, Berlanga, has risen to prominence by virtue of him carrying a 16-fight first round knockout streak. What started as a mere stat has now become the driving force behind Berlanga’s hype as he now mentions it in his social media bios. What I surmise is that Berlanga is now 100% beholden to the streak as it’s been the reason he’s become one of the hottest prospects in the sport of boxing. With such hype comes many expectations. As Nicholson himself has stated, it’s a mental fight at this point. When the bell rings on saturday night it’ll only be two men in the ring. Regardless of expectations, a single punch can change the narrative for both fighters.
Nicholson has unquestionably been in with some of the best around the 168lb division to include the likes of Jesse Hart and Steve Rolls, the latter resulting in a controversial points lost. Through it all Nicholson has been able to rebound and regroup, putting himself in even greater positions. This is because he’s a real fighter and has shown such over the course of his career. Make no mistake about it, Berlanga is the fighter who has to overcome himself and what he envisions for the future. In Nicholson, Berlanga will face his stiffest test yet and the pressure is no doubt on him to live up to hype behind him. Berlanga has yet to fight beyond the first round which is as much evident from his competition, or lack thereof, as it is his punching prowess.
What is most certain is that two men will enter the ring on Saturday night and there can only be one victor. What happens in between comes down to preparation. What truly matters on fight night are the behind the scenes things that took place during camp. Each fighter’s preparation is key. I know that Nicholson will be prepared and for all intents and purposes, I expect the same for Berlanga. Where the difference lies is in competition. This could very well be a factor in the fight.
Regardless of the outcome, each fighter is on a mission. Nicholson’s mission extends far beyond the challenge he faces on Saturday. It extends beyond the squared ring for which he and Berlanga will battle. There will be millions watching in order to get a view of the sport of boxing at its highest level. There will also those who are grateful for life in itself who may not be watching but have a connection to the very battle Nicholson has fought through. Through it all I can assure you Nicholson will not have forgotten where he came from for his life has a greater purpose. What a time to be alive.