By Keith Idec
Edner Cherry overcame a slow start Friday night to defeat Dennis Galarza.
The veteran contender controlled the second half of their 10-round lightweight bout and won a unanimous decision in a fight FS1 televised from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Cherry (37-7-2, 19 KOs) won by scores of 97-93, 96-94 and 96-94 over Galarza (16-3, 9 KOs).
Galarza got off to a strong start, but he faded during the second half of their fight. Conversely, Cherry got stronger as the action continued and mostly had his way with Galarza over the final five rounds.
The 35-year-old Cherry is 10 years older than Galarza, but he was the most experienced, accomplished opponent Galarza has faced.
Cherry, of Wauchula, Florida, was just three fights removed from losing a 12-round split decision to then-undefeated Jose Pedraza in their fight with the since-dethroned Pedraza’s IBF super featherweight title in October 2015. Cherry previously lost 12-round unanimous decisions to two-division champions Timothy Bradley and Paulie Malignaggi.
Galarza, of Orlando, Florida, was a decorated amateur, but needed to beat Cherry on Friday night to change the course of his career. He previously lost a split decision to Cesar Valenzuela (14-6-1, 5 KOs) in September 2016 and a unanimous decision to Vincent Jennings (5-4-1, 4 KOs) in August 2014.
Cherry closed the fight strong in the 10th round, when he landed several right hands and prevented Galarza from landing much.
Cherry began the ninth round with a hard right hand that made Galarza move away from him. Cherry ended that round with a flurry, but Galarza wasn’t hurt by any of those punches.
Galarza defended himself a little better in the eighth round than he did in the sixth and seventh rounds. But Cherry kept the pressure on him and landed enough right hands to remain in control for a third straight round.
Cherry continued to come back during the seventh round, as Galarza seemed to tire and threw mostly arm punches. An aggressive Cherry bombarded Galarza with power punches over the final 20 seconds of the seventh.
Seemingly down on the cards, Cherry had a strong sixth round. He landed a solid right hand less than 30 seconds into the sixth and cracked Galarza with a flush left hook with about 30 seconds to go in that round.
Galarza’s jab enabled him to control much of the fifth round. Cherry snapped back Galarza’s head as Galarza tried to move away from him around the two-minute mark of the fourth round.
By the third round, Cherry had recovered from a shaky first round to get back in the fight. He began landing his right hand and gave Galarza something to think about as he tried to impose his size on Cherry.
Galarza did land a straight right hand that moved Cherry backward with 13 seconds to go in the third round.
Galarza appeared to buzz Cherry by landing a right hand to the side of his head less than 50 seconds into their fight. That shot caused Cherry to hold Galarza.
Galarza drilled Cherry with another right hand late in the first round that knocked Cherry backward, into a corner. Galarza couldn’t capitalize then, though, because the round ended soon thereafter.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.