Sunny Edwards (18-0, 4 KOs) retained his IBF flyweight title in Dubai tonight with a unanimous decision win over Muhammad Waseem.
The champion had commented in the build-up that he believed Waseem wasn’t good enough to be in the ring with him. And in the first round Edwards reacted dismissively to a jab from the challenger that fell short.
A fighter who we expect to be elusive and to capitalise on opponent’s mistakes Edwards started on the front foot looking to assert his authority. Sharp counters, lead uppercuts and long-range attacks proved that Edwards was the superior fighter, but his over-confidence would eventually allow Waseem into the fight.
The 34-year-old Pakistani (12-2, 8 KOs) had to rely on chasing Edwards around the ring and making the most of his time on the ropes with the 26-year-old Brit. Waseem had a clear tactic of going after the body and in the third round finished strong in the last minute to show this may not be as one-sided as we first thought. However, part of his success was down to the willingness of the champion to trade and invite pressure. It would be a dangerous tactic against better fighters but one you wouldn’t expect him to repeat because of that.
Each fighter began to receive warnings for illegal activity. And in rounds six and seven Waseem’s chances of winning were effectively gone when one point was deducted for excessive holding and then another for use of the head.
Edwards would continue to display moments of world class boxing. A long-range one-two while on the move and pull back right-hand counter caught the eye in the 8th. To Waseem’s credit he got to work again in the last-minute making life as uncomfortable as possible for ‘Showtime’.
From the 9th Edwards began to show what we thought he might do from the off. Movement, upsetting the rhythm of his foe and making it near impossible to land anything on him. School was in session as the end neared. Waseem was tiring, Edwards continued to glide and in the end was at a level that the challenger could not reach.
Boxing Social had Edwards winning 118-108 but the three judges in attendance had other ideas and saw it closer. 115-111, 116-110 and 115-111 once again. It mattered not. Edwards heard ‘And still…’ which may now take him on the road to America for a unification against WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez.