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Home comfort for Charlie Edwards

Charlie Edwards
Charlie Edwards trains at his gym in Sheffield ahead of his WBC title fight Dave Thompson/Matchroom Boxing
Charlie Edwards faces tricky defence against dangerman Martinez, writes Daniel Herbert

THE bad news for Charlie Edwards is that his latest WBC flyweight title defence, on the undercard of the big Vasyl Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell show at the O2 in Greenwich on Saturday (August 31), is against the man who in his last fight knocked out Andrew Selby. The good news for Edwards is that said challenger, Julio Cesar Martinez, beat Welsh wizard Selby on home turf in Mexico and has yet to box outside his native land as a professional.

Fighting in front of your own fans doesn’t guarantee victory, but it doesn’t hurt either. It can be of particular significance if a boxer tight at the weight – what flyweight isn’t? – travels to a country much cooler than his own. He may have to work extra hard to shed surplus weight, an effort that might take the edge off his performance.

Charlie Edwards
Edwards is making the second defence of his WBC flyweight title Action Image/Matthew Childs

When Martinez knocked out Selby in five rounds in March, in a final eliminator, it was only the third time in 15 pro fights he had scaled the 112lbs flyweight limit or less.

Perhaps that just showed a new-found dedication in his first major fight. Martinez lost a four-rounder on his debut and his previous biggest test had been a bantamweight eight against former WBC light-fly champ Edgar Sosa, which he won unanimously on points.

Certainly, the Martinez that beat Selby looks a formidable threat to the much-improved Edwards. He’s won his last eight fights inside the distance, four in the opening round.

Against Selby he got past the former amateur star’s sharper boxing, hurting him downstairs late in the fourth before finishing it with a crushing left to the body in round five.

Edwards, though, has toughened up considerably since his first, premature, world title bid saw him stopped in 10 rounds by Filipino John Riel Casimero for the IBF belt three years ago. The Croydon talent rebuilt slowly and steadily yet it was still a surprise when he unanimously outpointed Nicaragua’s experienced Cristofer Rosales to become WBC king in December.

Charlie confirmed that with a wide points victory over rugged Spaniard Angel Moreno in March and now the man who trains under Grant Smith in Sheffield makes a more difficult-looking second defence.

It’s one that should still end successfully, although Martinez’s inside game merits the utmost respect. Assuming Edwards can stay composed under pressure, his movement and combinations can earn him a hard-fought points victory.

Also over 12 rounds is an intriguing heavyweight encounter between fringe contender Hughie Fury, 23-2 (13), and Russia’s former Olympic champion Alexander Povetkin, who at nearly 40 and after twice failing a drug test is just about clinging onto relevance.

Manchester-based Fury turns 25 next month – young for a big man – but has lost his two biggest tests. Despite home advantage, he dropped a majority decision when outworked by Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO title in 2017, and last year a trip to Bulgaria saw him given a lesson in effective aggression by veteran Kubrat Pulev, who well outpointed him.

He has rebounded with two wins this year, against hapless Canadian Chris Norrad (two rounds) and faded Nigerian Samuel Peter (seven rounds), but Povetkin is a much tougher test than either of those.

The Russian has compiled 34 wins (24 early) against two losses suffered in world title challenges. In 2013 Wladimir Klitschko dropped him three times and widely outpointed him over 12, while in September last year Anthony Joshua struggled early on before finding the punches to stop Povetkin in round seven.

That was at Wembley, and on a previous UK visit (Cardiff) six months earlier Povetkin had knocked out David Price in the fifth, albeit after the big Scouser had given him plenty of trouble.

A peak Povetkin would seriously trouble a Fury who is not on his game. But the feeling here is that the threat of defeat will spur Hughie into using his left jab and long right cross enough to edge home on points.

Two unbeaten Welshmen clash for the British lightweight title when Cardiff’s touted Rio Olympian Joe Cordina, 9-0 (7), defends against Treharris challenger Gavin Gwynne, 11-0 (1).

Gwynne is three inches taller at 6ft, but that’s about his only advantage. Cordina had much more amateur experience and has displayed much greater power in the pros, outpointing Sean Dodd to win a Commonwealth belt he retained, while adding the vacant British crown, with a sixth-round stoppage of Andy Townend.

Joe Cordina
Cordina has put his trust in trainer Tony Sims Matchroom Boxing

Cordina might take a few rounds to close the gap, but once he does he should make tell his superior skills to retain in about eight rounds.

One of Joe’s 2016 Games teammates gets an outing as Joshua Buatsi, a bronze medallist in Brazil, defends his WBA International light-heavyweight title against Canadian Ryan Ford.

Buatsi’s heavy hitting has carried him to an 11-0 (9) record with an impressive stoppage (three rounds) of Liam Conroy for the British title and Mexican veteran Marco Antonio Periban (four rounds) last time out in New York.

Ford, from Edmonton, is 16-4 (11) and has never been stopped – but Croydon’s Buatsi punches hard enough to change that, wearing down the challenger for victory in the later stages of this 12-rounder.

Hartlepool’s Savannah Marshall, a former World Champion in the amateurs, has yet to make a similar splash in the pros despite a 6-0 (4) ledger. Now under the Matchroom banner, the 28-year-old has an outing on this bill.

The Verdict Edwards can’t afford to be below his scintillating best against this challenger.

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