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 Boxing Truth.”
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