Junior lightweight contender Edner Cherry won a unanimous decision against Lydell Rhodes in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Tuesday night at the Sands Bethlehem Events Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The three judges scored the fight 98-92, 97-93 and 97-93 for Cherry (35-7-2, 19 KOs), although the broadcasters on the Fox Sports 1 telecast believed Rhodes (23-2-1, 11 KOs) deserved the decision.
Cherry, 33, of Wauchula, Fla., trains out of St. Pete Boxing Club under the tutelage of Dan Birmingham and with welterweight world titleholder Keith Thurman. Cherry landed a left hand in the second round that wobbled Rhodes, who turned the fight into an ugly one with a lot of grabbing and wrestling tactics. Cherry closed the fight by stunning Rhodes in the final moments.
"He was slick," Cherry said. "So I held because I didn't want him to get in those quick shots. I thought it was a great fight. I was in a tough fight tonight and I am glad to come out with the victory.
"Training and sparring with Keith was great. He's so strong and it helped me in this fight. We were both training for big fights at the same time and it helped me increase my strength and pick up this win tonight, without a doubt."
Cherry was fighting for the first time since he lost a split decision while challenging Jose Pedraza for his 130-pound world title in October, a fight many believe Cherry deserved to win.
Rhodes, 28, a native of Spencer, Okla., lost his second decision in a row and dropped to 0-2-1 in his last three.
"He held a lot which made it tough to get in a rhythm,” said Rhodes, who initiated many of the clinches. "It was a heck of a fight. I wanted to back him up in the later rounds but he was strong. It was an ugly fight, but I believe I won. I don't agree with the decision. Nothing more, nothing less."
Also on the card, junior lightweight prospect Omar Douglas (17-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Wilmington, Del., knocked out Alexei Collado (19-2, 17 KOs), 28, a Cuba native living in Miami, at 2 minutes, 51 seconds of the seventh round.
"I noticed that he has his head in the middle and that is unusual for a tall guy," Douglas said. "So I was focusing on the right hand up the middle. I was able to finish him with a hard right, left, right combination."
In another televised bout, bantamweight prospect Antonio Russell (7-0, 5 KOs), 23, of Capitol Heights, Md., the younger brother of featherweight world titleholder Gary Russell Jr., won a lopsided decision against Rudolph Hedge (10-4-3, 4 KOs), 33, of Jamaica, on scores of 60-54, 59-55 and 59-55.