Cherry was very sharp to start the fight and he was able to establish his own offense without having to sacrifice much on defense. His athleticism was apparent, but it was more about his output and whether or not he could establish a workable rate without faltering.
Pedraza was no slouch on offense as he landed some hard body shots in the early going. It was difficult for him to sustain a consistent offense however, and he seemed very aware of dangers Cherry presented in the fight. He showcased very good defense but was unable to land anything to keep Cherry honest.
Cherry fired away as Pedraza avoided most of the punches, but the hand speed of Cherry and the attentiveness of Pedraza made for some very flashy and interesting exchanges. They were both doing things in spots. The aggressiveness was in spots, the focus on their own unique boxing prowess was in spots, and the pace was in spots – meaning there were moments where the action was dull, but it was magnified by the fact that both fighters were waiting and reacting on each other.
Still, Cherry was more effective with the game plan he was instituting and he was throwing more punches, which became far more apparent at the midway point of the fight. His jab was sharp and he was mixing up the attack with awkward angles on his left hand, throwing half way jab almost a hook hybrid.
Pedraza to that point was letting his natural skill win the fight for him and he had clearly hoped that would be enough as he continued on with no real game plan, nor did he make any real effort to adjust to the things that Cherry was doing.
Well, he did make one adjustment in the middle part of the fight—this, after Pedraza was eking out rounds to the point that he was leaving margins for Cherry to steal a couple of his own. There weren’t traditional swing rounds, but what are, really? In an attempt to throw Cherry a curve ball and perhaps create some separation in the fight, Pedraza answered the bell in the 6th by coming out and forcing the action to the inside.
The inside work was supposed to favor Pedraza, not because he shouldn’t fight from the outside, but stuffing the busier fighter with an effective hand speed by controlling the tempo with his speed would have at the very least kept Cherry from creating momentum.
Cherry actually did better work from the inside, forcing Pedraza to go back to what he does best – which is work from the outside. But Pedraza was caught in the 6th and appeared noticeably hurt. He was not in danger of going down, but his legs looked a little weaker than they had before and he was giving much more respect to Cherry for the moments following the right hand.
The replay from the 6th round showed that Cherry had created a level using athletic footwork and Pedraza’s own reckless force coming forward, which is where the right hand that hurt Pedraza landed.
That 6th was big for Cherry, who threw 112 punches in that single round. He kept the momentum going in the 7th as he continued with his intelligent bouts of offense and put Pedraza in retreat mode.
Cherry was never far from taking over this fight, but the issue was that he seemed to be unable to follow through on the momentum, giving away parts of rounds and allowing Pedraza some easy looks. I won’t completely put the fault on Cherry, who stayed relentless at times, as Pedraza worked his way back into the fight by staying accurate and landing meaningful punches down the stretch.
In the final rounds, both men were visibly tired and neither were making any real attempt at taking the fight and putting it on their shoulders. Instead, both men took what they could and nothing much after, but Cherry was impressing more out of the two and likely took the fight if he was up enough in the earlier rounds.
The scores came in following the final bell in the 12th and it was a split-decision as two of the judges scored the fight 117-111 for Pedraza, while one judge gave Cherry the nod with a 116-112 score. The scores were off to say the least and you could argue that Cherry deserved the fight outright.
Pedraza certainly didn’t win the fight by a 6 point margin (9 to 3 in rounds). Of course, he did some solid work early and then stole some rounds late towards the end of the fight. It is sometimes difficult for a fan to judge a fight as they tend to forget that a close round is scored the same as lopsided one (without a knockdown or brutal dominance). However, Cherry did enough to suggest he had at least bagged 5 rounds and left his stamp on the fight in a clearer fashion.
It was a close fight that deserves a part two.