Brandon “The Cannon” Berry has taken great pride in the fact he grew up and launched his emerging professional boxing career in the western Maine hamlet of West Forks.
But one of Berry’s homes away from home for his pugilistic endeavors is the Verizon Wireless Arena Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he will fight for the third straight year Thursday evening as part of the 13th annual Fight to Educate show.
Fight to Educate is a charity event that during the past 12 years has raised more than $750,000 to benefit New Hampshire nonprofit organizations.
“The whole purpose behind the show is to raise money for less fortunate purposes, so it means a lot that I’ve been asked to come back for the third time and for the second time as a pro,” said Berry. “And it’s a beautiful building on top of that. To fight at the Verizon Center really makes you feel like a big shot.”
The fight card will be headlined by bouts featuring middleweight Chris Gilbert (11-1) of Windsor, Vermont, undefeated New England middleweight champion Russell Lamour (9-0) of Portland and unbeaten Whitman, Massachusetts, super middleweight Mark DeLuca (10-0).
Berry will bring a 6-0 record with four knockouts into his first six-round fight against Theo Desjardin (0-3) of North Attleboro, Massachusetts.
The Desjardin fight ends what amounts to the biggest layoff to date in Berry’s pro career. He last fought June 14 in Portland — his sixth bout in 13 months — but used the summer of training under Ken “Skeet” Wyman at Wyman’s Boxing Club in Stockton Springs to begin making the transition from the junior welterweight division to the lightweight ranks.
“We’ve stayed real busy so in a way it never felt like a layoff, and we really took advantage of that time,” said Berry. “With the move down to 137 (pounds) I think we needed this time and we’ve trained hard.”
Berry’s decision to drop down in weight stemmed from a basic boxing axiom.
“In the fight game it’s no secret, the lighter you can be and still feel good is the key to success at any level,” he said. “The heavier you are the bigger people you’re going to face and most of the time that will end up being a disadvantage for you if you’re the smaller guy.”
The Fight to Educate bout will kick off what’s expected to be a busy fall campaign for Berry, who is scheduled to return to the ring barely three weeks later to fight on New England Fights’ first boxing promotion set for Oct. 11 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
“I want to fight steady,” said Berry. “If Skeet had 10 fights lined up for me for the rest of the year, as long as everything goes good in every one of them and we feel good, what I want is to be as busy as possible because I really think these next few fights are very, very important.
“They’re all important, but we have some big plans coming up and as long as things go right I think everybody’s going to be happy with what we end up doing.”
Gilbert will face Steven Matthews (4-0) of Greensboro, North Carolina, in the eight-round main event, while Lamour will compete as a light heavyweight in a six-rounder against Dennis Ogboo (7-7) of Lexington, Kentucky.
DeLuca will face Gundrick King (18-12) of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in another six-round pro battle.