Doug Fischer

Manfredo out-points Edouard on FNF

Former super middleweight title challenger Peter Manfredo Jr. overcame a slow start against Daniel Edouard to win their 10-round Friday Night Fights main event from Key West, Fla., with a strong second half that began with a fourth-round knockdown.

Manfredo (37-6, 20 knockouts), who won the middleweight fight by scores of 98-91, 98-91 and 97-92, was out-jabbed and outmaneuvered by the busier Edouard (23-4-2, 14 KOs) during the first three rounds of the ESPN2-televised bout.

However, Manfredo, a first-season participant of The Contender reality TV series, caught a break mid-way through the fourth round when Edouard charged him to the ropes with a barrage of punches and kept the fight close enough for the 30-year-old veteran from Providence, R.I., to retaliate.

Manfredo took advantage of Edouard’s aggression by landing a short chopping right cross that instantly stunned and dropped the Haiti-born Florida resident sideways onto the canvas. Edouard rolled over onto his back and got up by the referee’s count of eight but did so on unsteady legs.

From that point on in the fight Manfredo gave better than he got, often backing Edouard to the ropes with a two-fisted attack, but he still had to work hard to earn the “W.” Edouard, a former fringe contender who suffered a third-round TKO to Jermain Taylor in 2005, announced that he would retire if he lost to Manfredo.

Following his fourth-round knockdown, it seemed as though Edouard was resigned to the fact that he would likely lose the bout but was determined to end his career on a strong note. The 30-year-old boxer-brawler, who won a fight-of-the-year-candidate four-round TKO over Willie Gibbs on ESPN2 before facing Taylor, was game down the stretch of the fight. That made for some intense exchanges despite his exhaustion and shaky legs.

Manfredo can identify with Edouard’s pride and resolve. They are much alike. Both had televised early career success before losing to truly world-class opposition on boxing’s biggest stage. Edouard lost to Taylor, who won the undisputed middleweight title in his very next bout. Manfredo suffered a third-round TKO to 168-pound champ Joe Calzaghe in 2007.

Manfredo, who lost to Jeff Lacy in 2007 and Sakio Bika in 2008, may have considered retirement had he lost Friday’s fight. However, the Edouard victory stretched his win streak to six in a row, giving him hope for one more big fight.

“I didn’t know what I had left,” Manfredo said after the fight. “I assume I do have something left (after tonight’s victory).

“I want to make one last run. That’s why I’m back down to the middleweight division. I want to see what I can do here.”

In the co-featured bout on the Friday Night Fights broadcast, Edwin Rodriguez (18-0, 13 KOs) remained undefeated with a 10-round unanimous decision over Aaron Pryor Jr. (15-3, 11 KOs) but the super middleweight prospect from Worcester, Massachusetts under-performed in outpointing the son of the famous Hall of Famer.

After the bout, it was revealed during the Manfredo-Edouard fight that Rodriquez, who did not fight as aggressively as usual, had suffered an injury to his left shoulder in the third or fourth round.

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