Photos by Sumio Yamada
EDNER CHERRY vs WES FERGUSON
In an uncharacteristically passive performance, Edner Cherry was completely outboxed by Paulie Malignaggi in his last fight. It was as if Cherry froze in his biggest fight, boxing in New York in an HBO Boxing After Dark main event against a high-profile home-crowd favourite. Despite this disappointing display I think we will see the Cherry we know and love busy-punching and exciting on Wednesday Night Fights when, in the friendly confines of the A La Carte Event Pavilion at Tampa, FL, he meets Wes Ferguson in a 10-rounder made at the lightweight limit of 135 pounds.
Cherry is on home ground, the house fighter on the Starfight promotion, and he has to be a clear favourite. He is the physically stronger, heavier-handed fighter and has faced tougher opposition. Yet this could be highly competitive. Ferguson, while less experienced, is fast and classy. He is managed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and is trained in Las Vegas by Roger Mayweather, and I understand he has been sparring with the powerful Almazbek Raiymkulov at the Top Rank gym good preparation for meeting a strong fighter such as Cherry.
Ferguson is a third-choice opponent and took the bout on three weeks notice but the Starfight matchmaker, Zac Pomilio, said over the phone on Tuesday: Fitness is never a problem with Ferguson hes a gym rat. No matter what time you go into the Top Rank gym its like hes always there.
Pomilio admitted that the Starfight people were very disappointed with Cherrys showing against Malignaggi but feels that a combination of circumstances worked against the Bahamas-raised fighter. The occasion, the fact that he was meeting a junior welterweight when hes only a lightweight, played a part, Pomilio said. Another problem was that he fought the wrong fight, he added. Hes been working on improving his boxing skills and he has improved but for this fight he needed to get back to being the old, free-swinging Edner, he needed to go right after Malignaggi, and instead he tried to box with him.
This is another difficult fight. I think Edners experience will be the difference, but people Ive spoken to whose opinions I respect are divided. Ive heard everything from Cherry walking him him down and stopping him and Cherry wins easily, to the other extreme, that it will be a re-run of the Malignaggi fight with Edner getting outboxed.
I can understand why there are differing opinions. Cherry never got into the fight against Malignaggi and he is meeting another sharp, speedy boxer on Wednesday and Ferguson has won seven in a row after getting stopped by a naturally bigger fighter, Arthur Brambila, of Phoenix, a couple of years ago.
Cherry had stopped three of his last four opponents before meeting Malignaggi and he floored and hurt Jose Armando Santa Cruz in a gruelling loss on points. Fergusons best wins were his unanimous decision over tough Mexican Silverio Ortiz at Portland, OR, and a split 10-round decision over the capable Josesito Lopez in an undercard bout at the MGM Grand (Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs Zab Judah was the main event). I was ringside for both of these fights and each time I was impressed with Ferguson.
He showed character in the fight with Lopez in particular, when he looked like being overpowered early. He had such a rocky fourth round that one judge scored it 10-8 in favour of Lopez, even though Ferguson had not been dropped. Yet, trailing on two judges card, Ferguson fought his way back from the fifth round and he swept the last three rounds on two cards to pull out the victory.
Cherrys strength, toughness and greater seasoning. plus the site advantage, all point to a win for the Cherry Bomb, as he calls himself, but I think that Ferguson is a live underdog.
In fact, I am leaning towards Ferguson to pull off the upset. On paper Cherry has the advantages but I think that Ferguson has the talent, heart and speed to eke out a close decision and I have faith in the Florida judges if Ferguson does enough to win, I think he will get the verdict.