Sharkie’s Machine: Cherry Showed Heart, Bradley Retains Title
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Sept 14, 2008) Photo © Tom Casino/SHOWTIME  
At the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino Saturday in Biloxi Mississippi, WBC Super Lightweight Titlist Timothy Bradley (23-0, 11 KO’s), who recently gained name brand status after beating Junior Witter last May, made his first title defense against the WBC’s # 6 ranked Edner Cherry (24-6-2, 12 KO’s).

Originally, the Main Event was to be Lightweight Champ, Nate “The Galaxxxy Warrior” Campbell vs. Joan Guzman, but Guzman had issues with making weight and was, “having potential health issues”
(dehydration) in his attempts to make weight at the last moment. The commission doctor confirmed that Guzman was severely dehydrated. In a show of questionable heart, Guzman opted out of the fight after going back and forth throughout the day. Guzman is a professional with a long amateur history. He knows better than to be unprepared for the official weigh-ins.

It’s a damn shame because I was totally psyched to see that fight. Anyone who saw what Campbell did to Juan Diaz back in March knows Campbell is no walk in the park. I expect Guzman would have been in for a possible beat down and his first L, had this fight happened. Maybe those thoughts weighed too heavy on his mind and the scales.

In its stead, Bradley vs. Cherry, though one sided on the score cards, turned out to be a toe to toe, action packed fight, worthy of remembrance as Cherry showed considerable improvements in his style and a lot of heart, even though ultimately, he was unable to keep up with the faster, slicker Bradley.

Bradley reminds me of what Zab Judah might have been if he had a different trainer and was more disciplined. Judah had better power but Bradley’s dedication to the jab and combination punching makes him a more complete fighter. Bradley also appears to have a good chin, as some of Edner’s ‘Cherry bombs’ that landed, can attest.

The stare down was intense, with both trying to win the psychological battle. That was a draw. Once the first bell sounded, it was all action, with both guys giving a good account. Bradley showed great footwork and worked his jab masterfully, often aiming it at the body with consistent success.

The Bahamian Bomber started well too, landing a nice clean right to Bradley’s head and keeping pace with his quicker opponent. Bradley used his superior agility to slip punches, while delivering his own. It was a very competitive first round, where it looked like Bradley landed the better shots and more of them. It was more of the same in the second.

In the third round, there were some wild exchanges and some unintentional looking head butts. It was shaping up to be an intense fight. The action was at a steady pace for the first four rounds with Bradley beating Cherry to the punch. Cherry was aggressive and landed often enough to keep it close. Late in the fourth round, Cherry landed a big right, “cherry bomb” that stunned Bradley. It was Cherry’s best round and I gave it to him.

But after the fourth round, it was clear that Bradley, who always jabbed to the body before going up and back down again, was winning most of the exchanges with cleaner shots and better defense. Bradley was shooting his jab like a machine gun up and down and during one inside exchange, where Bradley shoe-shined Cherry to the body, Cherry backed up after the ref warned Bradley to keep em’ up. Strangely, Cherry walked away as if he were being afforded time to recover. I didn’t see a Bradley punch go below the belt line but the light warning was issued anyway. The ref walked towards Cherry and said, “It’s not that bad, you ought to be ok. Are you ready?” And Cherry went back to work.

In the sixth, Bradley opened the round with a multitude of jabs into the face of Cherry, blinding him to the follow up rights that came. Cherry landed some decent shots too but it was Bradley, dictating the pace. In the seventh, Bradley remained in control. Cherry’s frustration was evident as Bradley was always able to throw at least double his own punch output during the exchanges.

By the eighth round, Cherry’s corner was irate, screaming at him to throw more punches. That advice came up short in my view. Sure, Cherry needed to throw more, but what he really needed was to time his punches better to catch the faster Bradley, preferably with counter punches. Cherry was giving his all and I think his corner would have done better to give him strategic advice instead of just giving him hell. His corner’s insistence that he throw more punches had to be adding to Cherry’s frustration. Cherry was fighting a good a fight as he was capable of, better than I’ve ever seen him; he was just too slow to catch Bradley as frequently as Bradley was catching him.

In the eighth, Cherry, in an effort to execute his corners instructions, continued to come forward with more punches but was too slow to be effective until he finally just let his hands fly and caught Bradley with a few clean rights during a wild exchange that prompted Bradley to hold. While holding, Bradley used his free arm to punch until the ref would break them.

During an exchange at center ring in the eighth round, Cherry walked right into a straight right by Bradley that floored him. Cherry got up and though staggered, boxed from outside and managed to prevent Bradley from finishing him. It was a 10-8 round for Bradley but it showed Cherry to have some big heart!

Rounds nine and ten were more of the same, with Bradley landing more and cleaner. In round 11, Cherry looked aggravated with his corner as he engaged in a sloppy slugfest with Bradley, who slipped during a tussle. It was ruled a slip. Cherry landed a big right handed bomb that stunned Bradley a bit but Bradley knew how to tie up and turn the momentum back in his favor. I gave the 11th to Cherry for doing the most damage. Bradley’s calm and confident corner gave him Hell for being careless in the 11th round.

In round 12, Cherry went for broke and came out punching. Bradley wasn’t going for a knockout, he was boxing smart, but he did go down—from a slip on some wet canvas. Though Cherry gave all he had, Bradley had more skills and won the last round with a good blend of clean punches and better overall ring generalship.

There was a lot of respect in the ring in both directions after the final bell. The referee, Gary Ritter did an excellent job of not influencing the outcome of this fight. He showed no favoritism and didn’t take any points. He let them fight and only rarely did he have to warn either guy for head butting or low punches.

The Official Judges scored it; 118-109, 117-110 and 119-109 all in favor of Timothy Bradley.

Guys I’d like to see Bradley fight next include WBO titlist Kendall Holt (24-2, 13 KO’s) or Ricardo Torres (32-2, 28 KO’s) Ricky Hatton (44-1, 31 KO’s), Paul Malignaggi (25-1, 5 KO’s) or Andreas Kotelnik (30-2, 13 KO’s).

Of course none of those fights will happen, so expect Bradley to fight his WBC mandatory, which is likely to be Devon Alexander (15-0, 8 KO’s) next.

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