Edner Cherry is a rugged contender who boasts a diploma from the School of Hard Knocks. While some young fighters are groomed and protected on their way up the ranks, allowing them to assemble sterling records against hand-picked opposition, the Bahama native started his career by stepping straight into the shark tank. After his first three professional fights, he was 1-1-1. After his first seven, he was 3-2-2.
But he persevered and developed into a true, world-class fighter. While he’s hardly a superstar, he’s the sort of tough, blue collar fighter who comes well prepared and provides fans with their money’s worth. The “Cherry Bomb” is an aggressive, pressure fighter with stiff whiskers. After 14 years, his record is 34-7-2, with 19 KOs. He’s never been stopped in a fight.
Title shots have been hard to come by for Cherry. Although his best weight is clearly 130 pounds, where he’s able to impose himself better physically, he has competed often at lightweight and has even gone to 140 pounds, for the right kind of opportunity. In 2008, he followed a knockout of former lightweight champion Stevie Johnson with the first world-title shot of his career, against then WBC 140-pound champion Timothy Bradley.
Following his unsuccessful bid against Bradley, Cherry launched a nine-fight, seven-year win streak. Finally, last Saturday night in Cincinnati, he received another shot at a world title, when he faced undefeated IBF super featherweight champion Jose Pedraza.
It was the huge break Cherry had been waiting for, but as two of the three judges’ cards made clear after the fight, Cherry probably never had a chance in this one. Over 12 grueling rounds, Cherry thoroughly out-worked the much younger champion. He threw more punches and landed more, inflicting more damage. Yet only judge Larry Hazzard Jr. appeared to have actually watched the fight, scoring it 116-112 for Cherry.
Judges George Hill and Scott Maddox might as well have filled their cards out in the hotel room the night before. Both men somehow saw the fight 117-111 for the champion, Pedraza. That’s nine rounds to three. The two are guilty either of incompetence or corruption. There’s no room for any other interpretation.
It was a competitive bout and many of the rounds were close. To come up with a draw, or even a 115-113 win for Pedraza, would have me grumbling a bit, but not outraged. An undefeated champion like Pedraza, who is viewed as a potential star, is going to benefit from some degree of partiality when it comes to judges’ scores. That’s just the way it is.
But by scoring it 117-111, Maddox and Hill made is clear that they never even intended to give Cherry a fair shake.
Cherry was a perfect gentleman in defeat, accepting the bogus decision and showing respect for his opponent. That’s a credit to Cherry. It shows that inside the ring and out, he’s the type of fighter who makes the sport look good.
And he deserves another title shot, sooner rather than later.