REGINA, SASK – Six Nations’ Cher Obediah-Blasdell returns from the biggest test of her boxing career so far with a Canadian bronze medal, and a heavy bag full of experience and confidence from the National Amateur Boxing Championships held in Regina, Saskatchewan last week.
Obediah-Blasdell fights out of the Black Eye Boxing Club in Brantford and was given what could be the biggest break in her career so far when she was asked to join Team Ontario in Saskatchewan as a walk on.
In Saskatchewan, she had the misfortune of drawing one of Canada’s top woman boxers in Melissa Guillette, an experienced fighter with more than 80 amateur bouts under her belt. Obediah-Blasdell has had 10. She lost the decision, but won a lot of fans and even more respect as an up and coming woman boxer, worthy of watching out for.
She was greeted with an enthusiastic round of appause and hugs from about 30 fellow club members when she arrived at the gym Monday night. “Being third in Canada is pretty good,” said Obediah-Blasdell.“I grew a lot from this experience.”
While in Saskatchewan, she was coached by the legendary Billy Irwin who worked her corner. Cher’s regular Black Eye Boxing coach Jackie Armour stayed at home, but watched the fight via closed circuit pay-per-view computer streaming feed he had hooked up to his big-screen TV.
Ring announcers at first were dismissive of the unknown boxer, but when the bell rang, their opinion quickly changed.
“The commentators were immediately impressed with Cher’s aggressiveness,” says Armour. “I don’t wanna sound like a homer here, but I honestly thought she won that round. ”Gillette came back in the second and took that round.
In the third round, Obediah-Blasdell came on strong and at one point the TV announcer said, “Obediah is using Guillette as a punching Bag” after she delivered a series of combinations on the favourite.
As the fourth and last round concluded, Obediah had Guillette trapped against the ropes and was wailing on her for the last 10-15 seconds of the fight. Armour was sure his fighter was going to pull an upset. But when the winner was declared, the more established boxer got the nod, causing one of the ring announcers to remark, “Guillette won the match, but I disagree.”
“I felt really good and am proud of my performance at the Nationals, she said. “I was a little disappointed in the way it went, because there was this one girl that I wanted to fight, but we all got passed through because a couple of girls didn’t make weight. I felt good the day of the fight, I was running every night and every morning and I was in the zone that morning.”
Blasdell was just coming off a TKO win at the Toronto Stack Yards Gym, just a couple of days before leaving for Saskatchewan. It was her second TKO in as many fights, and she was ready for Regina.
Armour admits his disappointment in the decision at the Nationals, but knows now his fighter can stand up to the best amateurs in the country, and could have, and he believes should have won.
“At first I was a bit ticked off,” admits Armour. “But after I had a chance to settle down a bit I could see how important winning that bronze medal is going to be for her confidence and in advancing her boxing career. She is now a Canadian bronze medalist.”
Politics always plays a part in such matters and Billy Irwin, who has been around the fight game his whole life, told Armour before the fight that for Cher to win, she would pretty well have to knock out the favorite, Guillette — that a decision would not go her way.
“Watching back the tape, I can see a few things I would have done differently,” says Obediah-Blasdell. “But that’s how you grow and learn from your mistakes.
At the end of November, there is a Box-off in Quebec, she wants to take part in next.
“It’s almost like tryouts for the National team,” says Obediah-Balsdell. “If you win that, you get to travel internationally, with Team Canada. I’d like to win that. That gives me a month to train real hard.”