With Thanksgiving upon us, junior lightweight contender Edner Cherry believes there are plenty of turkeys in the 130-pound division who seem to run for cover whenever his name is mentioned.
The 32-year-old Cherry has not lost a fight in more than more than six years. His last setback, in 2008, came via 12-round decision to Tim Bradley for the latter’s WBC junior welterweight title, 10 pounds over Cherry’s natural fighting weight.
Cherry has boxed 10 times since then. He has won nine of them, six by knockout, and he boxed one No Contest when his opponent, Eric Aiken, claimed he couldn’t continue after getting hit after the bell ending the first round.
“I want to get into the ring with any champion or any of the top guys at 130,” said Cherry, who blew out Osumanu Akaba, of Ghana, in two rounds in his last fight Oct. 18 in Philadelphia. “All I want to do is fight the best and show the world that I’m the best 130-pound fighter in the world.
“Look at the guys who beat me, all above my natural weight,” said Cherry, who also dropped a 10-round decision to Paulie Malignaggi in 2007. “They were all current, former or soon-to-be champions. I’ve fought them all. Now I’m fighting at 130, never lost at this weight, knocking guys out and I can’t get an opportunity. I’ve never been knocked out.”
Cherry has solid wins over Vicente Escobido, ex-champs Stevie Johnston and Juan Polo Perez, Monte Meza-Clay and Daniel Alicea.
Trainer Dan Birmingham doesn’t think there is a junior lightweight on the planet who can deal with Cherry.
“Edner is the strongest junior lightweight in the world,” Birmingham said. “He’s paid his dues and it’s time he gets the right fights at the right weight. If he fights any of the current champions, he wins. Maybe that’s why no one wants to fight him.”
Cherry currently is ranked No. 9 by the IBF, No. 11 by the WBO, No. 13 by the WBC.
Foremost on Cherry’s hit list is former champ Yuriorkis Gamboa, the ex-champion from Cuba.
“Edner’s too strong and hits too hard for Gamboa,” said Birmingham.
Manager Patrick Doljanin: “If we can’t get Gamboa, Edner will fight any of the current champions, especially Orlando Salido, which has Fight-of-the-Year written all over it. Edner’s willing to fight anyone at 130 in the kind of fights that boxing fans deserve and want to see.”
Doljanin scratches his head when he looks at the world ratings.
“You’ve got guys like Ryan Kielczwesk, who hasn’t fought anybody and somehow he managed to get a No. 7 rating with the WBA,” Doljanin said. “He’s done nothing to warrant that rating. Edner would fight this guy in a winner-take-all fight and I guarantee this kid (Kielczwesk) would head for the hills before he ever gets in the ring with Edner.”
Promoter J Russell Peltz has tried to line Cherry up with several world-rated 130-pounders, with no luck.
“Boxing is a business, not a sport,” said Peltz. “If it were a sport, an organized sport, then some of these so-called contenders would have to fight Cherry. Guys like Jose Pedraza go around calling out the champs, but when we tried to get a fight with him all we got was a lot of un-returned phone calls.
“If we had to fight at 135, we would consider the winner of the Terrance Crawford-Ray Beltran fight or any other top lightweight in the world.”