Charlie Edwards: ‘Julio Cesar Martinez said he’s coming for a knockout, but he could knock himself out”
LONDON – He might very well be the happiest world titleholder on the planet.
When Charlie Edwards heard the immortal words “and the new” in December of last year, the emotions overwhelmed him. He entered the ring as a heavy underdog against hard-hitting WBC flyweight titlist Cristofer Rosales but performed brilliantly, overcame the odds and claimed a 12-round unanimous decision.
Edwards, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring at 112 pounds, was absolutely euphoric that night. He still is. It’s like the affable Englishman took an elevator to cloud nine and the elevator got stuck. In March, he made his maiden title defense against the undistinguished Angel Moreno and enjoyed himself once again. Edwards did what he was meant to do, dominating the action en route to a 12-round shutout on all three scorecards.
On Saturday, the challenge looks a lot trickier. Edwards (15-1, 6 knockouts) will take on Mexican tough guy Julio Cesar Martinez in what will be the chief support to the lightweight championship bout between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Luke Campbell. This massive show takes place at the O2 Arena, which is now hallowed ground for the defending titleholder.
“This week hasn’t felt like fight week, and I’ve been cool, calm and collected,” Edwards told The Ring. “Everything’s gone right in training, I’ve left no stone unturned and it’s nice to have that peace of mind coming down here. As soon as I got off the bus and went into the hotel next to the O2, I was buzzing.
“This is where I belong, this is what I’ve worked my whole life for, and I look forward to shining on Saturday night.”
Martinez (14-0, 11 KOs) is already rated No. 4 by The Ring at flyweight. He achieved that lofty position by scoring a fifth-round knockout over the highly respected Welshman Andrew Selby in March and his confidence is sky-high. His only setback came via four-round split decision in his pro debut and he’s never looked back.
The 24-year-old power-puncher is in the U.K. to win, but Edwards retains a steely determination.
“No slips ups,” said Edward sharply. “I’m super-zone in, super focused and I’m looking forward to this fight because I think it’ll bring out the best of me.
“Martinez is a great challenger, he’s shown that, he’s proved it, he’s got to this position, and he’s my number one challenger. He can bang, he’s reckless, he’s ruthless. He’s gonna come and try to take my head off, but it’s all good because that’s when I box my best.”
Despite Edwards’ charming demeanor, there was an edge to him during our conversation. The 26-year-old technician is convinced that the challenger is underestimating him, and one senses that he’s eager to dish out a painful lesson.
“He doesn’t respect me, and he says he’s over here to knock me out,” said Edwards, his tone switching perceptibly. “The only problem is when he comes in to knock me out, I’m hitting harder now.
“I’ve really developed into being a champion. I’m maturing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I have all the focus in the universe that it’s gonna come my way. I’m just gonna get in there and let it flow. I’ll deal with every obstacle in front of me. He said he’s coming for a knockout, but he could knock himself out.”
Should he come through, Edwards would be in perfect position to target rival titleholders Kosei Tanaka (WBO), Moruti Mthalane (IBF) and Artem Dalakian (WBA). Being the staunch professional on fight week, he was reticent to call out any of these names but did provide some insight into his long-term goals.
“I’m gonna be a multi-weight world champion,” Edwards stated. “That’s what my vision has always been. I looked up to Manny Pacquiao and he’s been my role model all the way through. I’m looking to exceed the limits and go as far as I can. I dedicated my whole life for this and now that I’m world champion, I’m dedicated even more. I’m buzzing.”
Come Sunday morning, Charlie Edwards just wants to be happy.
The bout will be broadcast live on ESPN+ in the U.S and Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for The Ring. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing