CHARLIE EDWARDS has challenged for world honours before, when he was stopped by John Riel Casimero in 2016, but now he is confident that he has everything in the right place to dethrone one of the champions in the flyweight division.
Edwards will get his chance on Saturday (December 22), when he faces Cristofer Rosales, the current WBC champion, at the O2 Arena as chief support to Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora’s rematch on Sky Sports Box Office.
Edwards believes this will be a “coming of age” fight for him in London and the 13-1, with six stoppages, former amateur star has uprooted his camp to Sheffield and Grant Smith’s Steel City Gym, where his younger brother Sunny has been based for a number of years, who he hopes will guide him to the pinnacle of the sport.
“I haven’t had to worry about anything but turning up each session. My trainer Grant and my sponsor have paid for everything and constructed the camp for me with sparring partners to imitate Rosales. I can’t stress how important they’ve been for me and on top of that my management at MTK Global and promoter Eddie Hearn have shown me so much support financially, emotionally and mentally,” Edwards told Boxing News.
“I couldn’t be more grateful to have these people around me. It’s taken a long time to get this together and now we’re all on the same page, pushing together in the same direction at the right time. Timing is everything in life and this is my golden opportunity to become world champion.
“I actually had my second fight on the same card as he fought Kal Yafai and he gave him one of his toughest fights to date, which Yafai has admitted. Then the fight with Andrew Selby was closer than the scorecards suggested and he dropped him in the first round, so he is no joke. He’s coming into his prime and when you become world champion, you go up another level, which it is what happened to Ryan Burnett when I was training down there.
“It transformed him into an almost unbeatable fighter, after all he only lost to Nonito Donaire because he injured his back. [Rosales] went over to Japan and stopped Daigo Higa, who was meant to be the next big thing over there and then stopped Paddy Barnes in four, so that’s the calibre I’m up against. But, I believe that I have the style to beat him on Saturday and I’m certainly not expecting it to be an easy night by any means. This will be my coming of age fight and I will look special, when I introduce myself to the world boxing scene.”
Edwards is coming back down in weight to meet Rosales, after stepping up in weight following his loss to Casimero, winning British and WBA Continental honours in the process.
However, Edwards revealed he could have easily made the flyweight limit in his last fight with Nelson, where he put on arguably his best performance since turning pro in 2015, stopping the former Commonwealth champion inside three rounds in June.
The 25-year-old admits he has learned from mistakes made in the past and is now ready to live up to his potential and show he is not a hype job, but a genuine threat on the world stage.
“When I beat Anthony Nelson last time out, I could have made flyweight. I actually joked with Grant and said shall I make it anyway just to prove it to everyone, but he stopped me in the end. I remember Eddie coming in to the dressing room after the fight and asking where that performance came from and I told him that night that I would make flyweight and win a world title, before taking out the rest of the division.
“After I lost to Casimero I realised that I was doing the weight badly wrong. I was doing what I did when I was with GB and staying at 5% above the weight all the time, which isn’t possible in the pros. I’ve learned some valuable lessons over the last couple of years and I know I can do the weight well, whilst remaining extremely strong.
“I’ve had so many ups and downs recently, in and out of the sport, like when I was messed around by Yafai earlier this year and it has just made me hungrier. The fight with Kal will happen in the future, it has to because at the lower weights you don’t get many rivalries. One of the biggest mistakes I made was giving up my British title to go after that fight, and it was a tough lesson, but I’ve had to step back and go my own route.
“If I win the WBC on Saturday, it shows Kal to be the person he is, as the man who didn’t want to even entertain me and after his last fight, where he was poor, he needs something to get people interested again. I’ve got to deal with Rosales first and then the world is my oyster. Then I can unify, move up and become a two-weight world champion. I can’t look past Saturday though, as it’s the biggest fight of my career so far. After I win, I won’t be Charlie Edwards hype job, I’ll be Charlie Edwards, serious competitor.”
Edwards career so far has seen him move around regularly from trainer to trainer, never truly settling anywhere. However he now feels as if he has found a home in Sheffield under Smith, who is a highly respected trainer in the Yorkshire area.
Edwards was close to joining forces with Smith before, but he took the opportunity to train with Adam Booth, where he points to spars with former world bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett as huge learning experiences that brought him on as a fighter.
It also gives him the chance to train alongside brother Sunny, who has been earning many plaudits since he turned over, winning the WBO International super-flyweight belt last weekend in Brentwood, and Charlie adds that the competitive nature of the brother’s will only help them achieve their big dreams.
“It was about two years ago where I had to make a decision as to whether I’d come up here and work with Grant, or join up with Adam Booth back in London. At the time I was with someone who was adamant they didn’t want to be in Sheffield, so I stayed surrounded by my friends and family down there. At the time it was the right decision, as Ryan Burnett toughened me up and made me the fighter I am today,” Charlie said.
“Had I not gone down there and sparred him for a year, I simply wouldn’t be in this position. But now I’m up here, Grant gives me my undivided attention, makes everything easy and makes me feel like the superstar that I am and it will show on fight night. I’m a loved fighter, by my team, sponsors, promoter and management and it has all come together at the right time, so I’m now ready to shine on Saturday.
“I can’t dwell on it and say I wish I was here in Sheffield from the very beginning. I’ve learned so much along the way, from what I was doing in the gym, to how I was living my life outside the gym. The reason I’m still going strong was that I had to learn those lessons and it turned me into the person I am now. Everything happens for a reason and winning a world title is my destiny and it will happen on December 22.
“With Sunny also in the gym, it’s a healthy competition and our dream is to be like the Klitschkos at the lighter weights. We don’t want to get to the top and get out, we want to get to the top and build a legacy. When the Klitschko’s did it, it was special and we want exactly the same.”
On Saturday, Edwards will get the perfect chance to exorcise any demons from when he lost to Casimero. It was in the same venue that he was stopped in just his ninth professional contest in ten rounds, when he challenged the Filipino for the IBF version of the flyweight crown.
Edwards has already pictured the outcome and will have no doubts when he walks out at the O2, having made the walk before and now insisting he is in a much better position having suffered a defeat and learning a tough lesson in the ring that night.
He also points to that loss ending up as Rosales’ downfall, as he’s a totally different fighter two years on from the defeat. He is refusing to look past Rosales, who has built up a road warrior reputation in 2018, as he claimed and defended the WBC belt on the road.
“I’ve done it all before. I know the worst thing that can happen to me and that doesn’t scare me. I’ve got no fears and I know the outcome already, which will be me walking out of the O2 Arena with the WBC title around my waist. I’m ready now, whereas before when this happened to me, I wasn’t. I thought I was and I got caught up in the hype surrounding me being in that position so early in my career. I’ve tasted the top and failed, but I’ve learned my lessons and I’m ready to rule at the top,” he said. “I’m so grateful that I took the fight with Casimero because without that I could still be fighting journeymen and thinking that I’m better than I actually am. It has defined my career and made me want it more. You can either swallow it or you can come back better, which is what real fighters do. If you’re losing at the top level, it is nothing to be ashamed of.
“George Groves showed that you can come back from those defeats, which he did on plenty of occasions. You’ve got to have the bottle to do that as a fighter. I know this sport is a business and you have to make a living somehow, but you don’t have to have a hand-picked career. The British fans are getting on to that now and if you have pumped up your record and then have a bad performance, everyone gets on to you.
“Rosales won’t freeze. He’s got two big knockout wins this year and both were on the road. He thrives off that pressure and he loves coming to his opponent’s backyard and silencing the crowd. But, if he thinks he’s going to walk through me, then he’ll have already made his biggest mistake and if he watches the Casimero fight and believes I am still the same fighter, then that will be his downfall.”
Edwards thoughts never stray too far from domestic battles and one that could happen in the near future, providing Edwards rips the green and gold belt from Rosales’ grasp, is a meeting with former amateur rival Andrew Selby. Edwards is adamant that he will be the one with his hand raised if the two do meet.
“Selby is the mandatory for the WBC title, so he won’t be too far away after I win on Saturday. There is a rematch clause with Rosales, so I’ll have to fight him again after I beat him, then it will be Selby. I’m ready for that fight and it’s time to get my own back on Andrew Selby. He beat me in the amateurs by four points when I was a kid,” he said. “As Andre Ward said, these 12 round fights come down to if you have been living the life, which I have. I’m ready for Selby when the time comes.”