Edner Cherry trained in Florida with world champion Keith Thurman as he prepared for his fight against Lydell Rhodes, and the experience seems to have been beneficial for both stablemates.
Cherry outworked Rhodes in a choppy, clinch-filled fight Tuesday night and won a 10-round unanimous decision in a 133-pound bout at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
While Edner Cherry (35-7-2, 19 KOs) looked to land power shots most of the fight, Lydell Rhodes (23-2-1, 11 KOs) tirelessly attempted to frustrate the two-time title challenger with his rhythm-disrupting, jab-and-grab tactics.
Most of their exchanges ended with few clean punches landing, and referee Gary Rosato continually had to separate the fighters, but it was Cherry’s aggressiveness that ultimately won over the judges with scores of 98-92 and 97-93 twice.
“[Rhodes] was slick, so I held because I did not want him to get in those quick shots,” Cherry said. “Training and sparring with Keith was great. He is so strong and it helped me in this fight. We were both training for big fights at the same time and it helped me with my strength without a doubt.”
Thurman defended his title Saturday night with a unanimous decision over Shawn Porter in Brooklyn, New York. While Cherry’s win wasn’t as significant, it was his first fight since losing a split decision to world champion Jose Pedraza in a 130-pound title bout in October.
“Sparring with Keith was beneficial for Edner for many reasons,” said the fighters’ mutual trainer, Dan Birmingham. “Keith is very experienced and much stronger than Rhodes.”
It was the 5-foot-5 Rhodes who connected on the cleaner shots behind his jab over the first three rounds, but the 5-foot-8 Cherry landed a powerful left hook to the head in Round 2 as he pressed the action.
Cherry, 33, continued to load up from outside into the middle rounds, but few of his punches found the mark as Rhodes, 28, repeatedly plowed into his taller opponent behind his right hand and lowered his head, forcing Rosato to keep untangling the fighters.
“It was a heck of a fight. I wanted to back him up in the later rounds, but he was strong,” said Rhodes, who dropped his second straight 10-round unanimous decision after losing to 140-pound contender Sergey Lipinets in October.
“He held and grabbed a lot and it was tough to get a rhythm. It was an ugly fight, but I believe I won the fight. It was a BS decision, nothing more, nothing less.”
In other televised fights, Omar “Super O” Douglas (17-0, 12 KOs) wore down Alexei Collado (19-2, 17 KOs) before gaining a seventh-round knockout in a 130-pound bout, and 118-pound southpaw prospect Antonio Russell (7-0, 5 KOs), the younger brother of 126-pound world champion Gary Russell Jr., won a six-round unanimous decision over Rudolph Hedge (10-4-3, 4 KOs).
For complete coverage of Cherry vs Rhodes, visit our fight page.