By Jake Donovan
Edner Cherry will flat out admit there’s next to nothing he knows about Guillermo Sanchez, other than that he’s scheduled to fight him Friday night at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
He could be in for a rough night. It could end with one punch. He could spend all night chasing his opponent, or for the opposite to be true where he finds himself under siege from bell to bell.
None of that matters to Cherry (28-6, 16KO), Bahamas-born, Florida-raised and now 11 years deep in the game and still learning every day. All he knows is that for the past couple of years he has finally felt at him – right weight and right frame of mind.
“We’re prepared for anything that comes our way,” says Cherry, who rides a five fight unbeaten streak heading into tonight’s showdown with Sanchez (13-4-1, 5KO). “All I need to know about him is that he’s standing in my way.”
Cherry’s recent stretch has resembled that of a man who’s double-parked in a tow-away zone. His past five fights have lasted just nine total rounds, or three fewer than the full 12-round distance he went in his last losing effort, a points loss in a bout that marked the first defense of Tim Bradley’s 140 lb. title way back in 2008.
The short endings are in part attributable to a lesser level of competition than he’s become accustomed to facing over the course of his hard-luck career. A big part of it also has to do with his being in his proper element for the first time in his career.
“You always have fighters claiming to be in the best shape of their life. All I’m going to say is I’m at the weight I want, and I’m ready,” Cherry insists. “Everyone is on the same page – my managers Albert Falcon and Pat Doljanin and trainer Tony Morgan. Everything we want to do will come together.”
In signing with the Warehouse Boxing group headed by Falcon and Doljanin came relocation in terms of building up a new fanbase. The management team is based out of Chicago, leading to Cherry signing with local promoter Dominic Pesoli, who heads up the well-established 8 Count Productions.
Tonight marks the Windy City debut for Cherry, who for the first time in years believes that everything is heading in the right direction.
“I’m working hard, putting the hours in the gym and seeing good things in the gym. Signing with 8 Count, they’ll move me in the right way. Signing with Albert and Pat, they’ll bring me to a world title. Training, sleep and eat and that’s it. I don’t have anything else to worry about. I don’t have to stress about other stuff. I have a team in place to deal with the business side. All I have to do is fight.”
For Cherry, that means sticking to what he knows best. He may not have a world title to show for his years of hard work, but his name rings out and is always invoked with a measure of respect. A stellar reputation tends to come with never being stopped while surviving a field of champions and contenders, still standing tall to be in position a decade later to make another championship run.
This time around, it’s going to come on his terms.
“I’ve always wanted to fight at 130, but past decisions were made that people in my career felt were in my best interest,” Cherry states. “There was an opportunity on the table to face Bradley for his title. I took my shot and came up short. I feel a lot stronger at 130 and know that I can make a lot of noise in this division.”
The 130 lb. division is currently loaded with talent but lacking in star power. One could potentially come from this weekend’s showdown between titlist Adrien Broner and top contender Eloy Perez in a battle of unbeaten rising young stars. Their bout airs live Saturday evening from St. Louis on HBO.
One night before and about 300 miles north, Cherry takes the next step towards the rest of his career.
He’s proved his worth as a best-of-the-rest type. Those accolades have come in past wins against tough fringe contenders such as Monte Meza Clay, Daniel Alicea and Wes Ferguson. They’ve also come in ‘valiant in defeat’ showings against world class fighters like Bradley and Paul Malignaggi, as well as in hard-luck showings against Ricky Quiles and Jose Armando Santa Cruz, dropping disputed decisions in back-to-back Super Bowl weekends exactly one year apart.
Reborn at 29, Cherry is ready to drop the “of the rest” end of the label and make a run towards proving himself as the best.
“My team believes in me and I’ve always believed in myself,” Cherry confidently states. “I work hard, I live clean, don’t party. In the past, I fought and also had to work outside of boxing just to put food on the table. Now, I wake up and I’m a fighter from dawn till dusk.
“I know I have a lot more to learn, which is why I still put in the work. I also know I still have a lot more to offer the sport. I had my shots elsewhere and took them, but in the wrong weight class. Now I want to get there in my right division where I can make noise. I know I can get there.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]