The Premier Boxing Champions series is one that this
observer has said on more than one occasion that showcases the sport of Boxing
on various levels. From fighters competing at the top level of the sport for
world championships, to fighters attempting comebacks, to prospects looking to
work their way into contention, the PBC series should have a little something
for a Boxing fan of any description. The series also does showcase bouts that
could be described as both crossroads bouts as well as fights where prospects attempt
to step up in the level of their opposition.
Two such fights headlined two separate PBC cards that
both closed out the month of June and began the month of July in Boxing’s
Lightweight division. The first took place on June 28th when former world title
challenger and veteran Edner Cherry took on rising prospect Lydell Rhodes in
Bethlehem, PA. On paper, this appeared to be an interesting fight as the thirty-three
year-old Cherry was looking to bounce back off of a controversial loss in
October of last year to IBF Jr. Lightweight world champion Jose Pedraza. Lydell
Rhodes meanwhile was himself looking to bounce back off of his first career
loss in October last year to Sergey Lipinets.
In what was a difficult fight to score, both fighters
seemed to take turns in regard to who was aggressive in a fight that was fought
almost entirely in close and saw considerable holding, grappling, and misses of
punches from both fighters. Although this fight did appear to have a storyline
of whether or not Cherry, a veteran of forty-three professional fights could
show that he is still a top contender against a rising prospect, who was facing
the most experienced fighter in his career thus far, this fight could be best
described as both “Sloppy” and “Inconclusive” due to neither fighter being able
to stand out clearly from the other. It was a fight that was both difficult to
score as well as not easy to watch due to the fight being fought on the inside
as well as the holding and grappling that took place.
At the end of ten rounds, this observer had the bout
scored a draw. The three official judges however, scored the fight in Cherry’s
favor via unanimous decision. Even though this was not the most entertaining
fight to watch, it could also be described as a case where two fighters respective
styles simply did not mesh well and that resulted in a rather “Inconclusive”
contest where it is quite frankly difficult to have a view of where either
fighter might go coming out of this fight.
Although sometimes it can boil down to the simple saying
of a win is a win, Cherry was not able to look impressive in this fight and one
might argue that the victory may not catapult him back into a position to
challenge for a world championship. By the same token, the loss for Rhodes may
not set him back too far due to the way the fight was fought.
The second of the two Lightweight battles that much like Cherry-Rhodes,
featured a recent world title challenger in Denis Shafikov taking on a rising
prospect in the form of the undefeated Jamel Herring in a fight that took place
on July 2nd in Reading, PA. The question I had going into this fight was how
Herring, who entered the fight unbeaten in fifteen previous professional fights,
would deal with the aggression of Denis Shafikov, who came into this fight off
of a hard-fought decision loss to Rances Barthelemy in December of last year
and a bout for the vacant IBF Lightweight world championship.
Although Herring had both a height as well as a reach
advantage over Shafikov, it would be the more experienced Shafikov who would
dominate the action. Despite being the shorter of the two fighters, Shafikov was
not held at distance by Herring and was able to get on the inside frequently
throughout the fight. Shafikov scored a knockdown of Herring in the second round
with a right hook to the head.
Herring showed his
mettle by getting up from the knockdown and gamely tried to turn the momentum
in his favor, but was unable to land anything significant to discourage the
aggressive Shafikov from coming forward and getting on the inside where he
could do damage. The fight gradually evolved into a one-sided beating of
Herring at the hands of Shafikov. Herring having taken a significant punishment
throughout the fight, was prevented from further punishment shortly after the
start of the tenth and final round as his corner stopped the fight.
It was an impressive performance by Shafikov that might
have one questioning whether he will once again fight for a world championship
in the near future. In the days since these two fights took place however, this
observer has been wondering whether or not a possible encounter between
Shafikov and Cherry might happen in the future.
Although Edner Cherry simply did what he had to do
against Lydell Rhodes and was able to get the victory, styles wise a fight
between Cherry and Shafikov does appear to be an intriguing battle as both
fighters like to come forward and throw punches. Even though Cherry is
currently rated number fourteen in the world in the World Boxing Council’s (WBC)
Jr. Lightweight ratings, his fight against Rhodes took place above the 130lb. Jr.
Lightweight limit in the Lightweight division and I believe that a fight
against Shafikov could be a good option for him as he looks to work his way
back into world championship contention. Shafikov, who is rated number nine in
the world by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) in the 135lb.
Lightweight division may see a potential fight with Cherry as a viable option
as he looks to work his way back into the world championship picture as well. Whether
or not the idea of a potential Shafikov-Cherry fight could happen down the line
remains to be seen, but this observer thinks it should be considered.
“And That’s The
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