Charlie Edwards gets a second chance at World title glory this this weekend, as he takes on WBC World flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales as chief support to the highly anticipated Dillian Whyte-Dereck Chisora rematch at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night.
Edwards, now 25, previously fell short in his quest for a World title when he met John Riel Casimero for the IBF flyweight crown on the undercard of Kell Brook’s TKO loss to Gennady Golovkin. Despite putting in a brave performance, the talented Surrey-born fighter would succumb to his Filipino opponent’s power in the tenth round of a competitive bout.
After spending the last two years rebuilding after his first – and only – career loss, Edwards has racked up five straight wins and is now, he believes, ready to seize his second shot at championship gold.
“The last two years have a been a rebuilding process.” said Edwards in an exclusive interview with Boxing Social.
“We were trying to push for World title fights; we were trying to go for [WBA World super flyweight champion\ Kal Yafai. He messed me around which kind of messed up my career a bit. It was the wrong move to make to chase that fight because I could have defended my British title three times, had three good paydays and put myself in a better position.”
“I’m ready for the big time now. Before [against Casimero] it was too early and I’ve learned a lot in the last two-and-a-half years about myself. I’ve learned what I have to do to become a World champion and the fight against Casimero showed me what it was like to mix at World level.”
“I have done the walk at the O2 before. I know what fight week is like in being in with a world class operator – and I have been fighting to get that again. Now it has come round, it’s my time and it’s time for me to take over.”
While many doubted the then-23-year-old Edwards had the experience to challenge for a World title, sparring with some of the finest talents the world has to offer has afforded the precocious pugilist the opportunity to learn from his experiences: and Edwards firmly believes he is now ready to prove the doubters wrong.
“I sparred [former IBF/WBA bantamweight champion] Ryan Burnett for the best part of a year when he was unifying the division at the weight above – and I learned a lot. I also went away and travelled and sparred top class international fighters.”
“I have put in all the work, so now it’s time to go out there on December 22nd and re-introduce myself to the boxing world. There’s a lot of doubters out there, but there’s also a lot of people who actually believe I can do it now.”
Studying his opponent in preparation for their upcoming meeting, Edwards feels he has identified a number of flaws in Rosales’ game – which former would-be-opponent Kal Yafai and ex-amateur star Andrew Selby have previously exploited in wins over the power-punching Nicaraguan.
“He falls over his front foot a lot which makes him very vulnerable walking into shots, and I believe he thinks he is superhuman at the moment! He likes to fight a hell of a lot. He’s got slow feet and he likes to stand there in-front of you. He needs to feel shots, you know? You hit him, but he needs to be in range to be able to hit back.”
“I would class myself as a boxer – but I have developed in so many other areas. I can fight on the inside as well so it’s about mixing between the two. I believe my hands and footwork will be too fast for him. I will be in and out before he can let his shots go.”
Last time out, Rosales handed three-time Olympian Paddy Barnes his first defeat as a professional when they met in August in Barnes’ home city of Belfast. A fierce rival of the Edwards brothers, the loss to Rosales’ created an opportunity for Edwards to seize victory where he failed.
“After Paddy Barnes got wiped out against Rosales, Eddie mentioned him [Rosales] to me and I said yes in a heartbeat. I saw the things he does well. He is very tough and he’s a World champion at the end of the day – but there are so many flaws in his game and I do believe I can exploit those flaws and beat him.”
“I don’t believe Paddy is a great boxer.” Edwards continued.
“He can fight; but he hasn’t got the movement in his feet and he hasn’t got the height or the reach, which played into Rosales’ hands on the night.”
Having brought in a plethora of sparring partners to replicate the style of his opponent, Edwards feels he has finished his camp in the best shape possible.
“We brought in sparing partners with the same style as his [Rosales] – rangy and tall – and everything is going smoothly. My weight has been perfect too, which has allowed us to focus on the game plan which we’ve worked on over and over.”
“I’m looking forward to everyone seeing the new Charlie Edwards.”
Edwards would reveal how issues with weight and dealing with the prospect of becoming a World champion at such a young age allowed him to be lulled into the ‘hype’. However, now under the tutelage of Sheffield’s Steel City Gym trainer Grant Smith, Edwards feels his skillset and maturity have both developed ahead of the biggest fight of his life.
“I have learned a lot about myself.” said Edwards.
“I learned what I had to do and how I had to prepare to become a World champion. I was very naive and got caught up in the hype, but it’s made me realise I had to get back from Marbella. I had to put myself with the right coaches and have the right sparring and not live a life of luxury.”
“I have learned how to do my weight too, because I wasn’t doing it properly. I was sitting too light far too soon [from the fight] and it weakened me going in. I used to over-train. I’m my own worst enemy at times: I always feel like I have to train and push myself to the limit.”
“Being with Grant Smith I have gone up another three levels. He was with me in my last fight [against Anthony Nelson] and I think I showed my level in there.”
With so much emphasis on keeping an undefeated record, the pressure of an ‘0’ is one that Edwards is happy no longer exists – claiming that his loss is one of the best things to happen to his career.
“Too much emphasis is on that ‘0’.”
“It was one of the best things that happened to me. Losing at world class level doesn’t mean a thing, as long as you learn. You learn ten, fifteen times more when you beat – especially at such a high level.”
“I’ve already been beat [against Casimero] and I’ve realised that it wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened to me, so I’m not putting myself under any extra pressure. I know what I’m capable of doing and on December 22nd I believe I’m going to be crowned WBC World champion. I don’t care about what anyone says – the hype or anything – I’m there to do a job.”
Provided that he leaves the ring on December 22nd with the coveted green and gold belt, Edwards hopes to unify the 112lbs division before moving up to settle an old score with former sparring partner-turned rival Kal Yafai.
“Once I have won the WBC I believe the flyweight division is mine for the taking. I want unification fights, I want to go for all of the belts – then I want to move up and I want to fight Kal Yafai.”
“Kal [Yafai] is a fight I have been wanting from a young age. I used to spar with him when I was a kid and he used to bully me and really give it to me – so it would be sweet revenge moving up and taking that title form him and dishing out his first loss.”
Article by: Emmily Simcock
Follow Emmily on Twitter at: @emmily_jane