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Charlie Edwards: ‘Cheaters never prosper’

Charlie Edwards
Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
Charlie Edwards clings on to WBC flyweight title after bout with Julio Martinez is ruled a no contest. John Dennen reports from the O2

IT’S rare for a fight to break the hearts of both boxers. Charlie Edwards thought his world championship reign was over, only for an extraordinary intervention from WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to restore their belt to him.

Edwards began brightly, when he took on Mexico’s strong Julio Cesar Martinez on the undercard of Vasyl Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday (August 31).  The Croydon man, in his second defence of the WBC flyweight world title, won the opening two rounds. He worked his jab from the outside, piercing Martinez’s guard with his lead. Edwards, at first, fielded Martinez’s attacks and clipped him with crisp counters. He fired in a straight cross, moving deftly on the balls of his feet.

But Martinez badly hurt him in the third round. His attack burst through Charlie’s defences. The Mexican saw his success and maintained a relentless salvo of punches. Edwards held his feet, pressed his gloves to head to cover up. But he was in trouble. Martinez hit the body with hooks, his left hacked apart Edwards’ guard, crunching through into his head. A left hook to the body dropped the Briton to his knee, only for Martinez to wait a beat before helping himself to another shot. Edwards rolled away from the body blow, as referee Mark Lyson counted him out.

Charlie was distraught as Martinez leapt on to the ring ropes in celebration of what he thought was his new WBC world title. From Tepito, a tough neighbourhood in Mexico, winning that belt was the realisation of a dream, the first step in a new life for him and his family.

But he had thrown the finishing blow clearly when Edwards was on the deck. Without further ado WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman took to the microphone to declare to the arena that result would be reversed and made a no contest so that their title would be returned to Charlie Edwards. While it appeared to be the right decision, it was surprising to see the ruling made near instantaneously although the British Boxing Board of Control later confirmed that the no contest would stand.

Charlie Edwards
Martinez lines up the finishing blow when Edwards clearly is on his knees Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

“I took a knee for a purpose,” the still champion said. “I took a knee then he finished me off with a body shot. So cheaters never prosper.”

That is a laudable sentiment, but not always the case in boxing. Alexander Povetkin, the Russian heavyweight who has previously failed two drug tests in 2017 was in action on the undercard against Hughie Fury, who himself had to resolve an anti-doping violation with UKAD. It’s disquieting to see especially when the last heavyweight fight at the O2 saw Dillian Whyte cleared to fight, while Oscar Rivas remained unaware that his opponent had been required to appear before an anti-doping panel to explain an adverse finding.

The Povetkin-Fury fight passed without great drama. The Russian barrelled into him, powering hard right hands fully into Hughie’s head. There was explosive power in those shots and Povetkin began find the target with left hooks too. Fury reared back from him but had to work hard just to stay in the fight.

Fury was resilient but Povetkin won a wide unanimous decision, 117-111 for judges Jean Robert Laine, Grzegorz Molenda and Bob Williams. Howard Foster refereed.

Joe Cordina retained his British lightweight title after a rough, physical fight with fellow Welshman Gavin Gwynne. Both had points deducted, Cordina penalised for a low blow, Gwynne for hitting the back of the head. The challenger was a constant threat, much taller but going on the offensive to pour down punches at the champion. Cordina however was evasive, even if the shots that caught him were heavy. The champion delivered bursts of quality work, lashing in left hooks and crisp rights. He needed to deliver in the championship rounds and did so, securing a unanimous decision, 116-110 for Howard Foster and Mark Lyson and 116-11 for Victor Loughlin. Referee was John Latham.

Joshua Buatsi left himself open for the occasional over arm right that Ryan Ford lobbed his way. But he worked his way into their contest and, in the seventh round, broke through. A left hook to the head hurt Ford. Buatsi then tore into him. The Briton ripped a left into the body, a right drove him down into the canvas where he was left to be counted out at 1-07 by referee Bob Williams.

Belfast’s James Tennyson found a savage finish to strike down Atif Shafiq at just 2-51 of the second round. He caught the Rotherham fighter on the ropes, hurting him with his right cross. It left Shafiq stunned, but trapped on the stands. Before the referee Howard Foster could intervene a brutal left hook blasted him over, knocked cold as his legs folded beneath him.

Savannah Marshall overwhelmed Brazil’s Daniele Bastieri. The former Olympian was levels above her opponent, lining up the odd body shot as well as heavy hits to the head. Eventually in the fifth round a right cross, blasted into Bastieri’s chin that prompted her to turn away and drop to a knee. Although the bell rang to end the round referee Bob Williams wisely waved it off.

Martin Ward was added to the bill to tick over in a scheduled eight rounder. He looked sharp in the process. Right crosses catching Spain’s Josue Bendana had an impact. The Brentwood man dropped his opponent in the third round and subjected the Spaniard to sustained punishment, obliging referee Bob Williams to end it at 2-46 of the fifth round.

Hull super-featherweight Conor Coghill outboxed Telford’s Dean Jones to win a four rounder 40-36 to open the show.

The Verdict Martinez had Edwards badly hurt, only for a needless shot to throw away that title win.

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