Charlie Edwards looks forward to Kyle Williams clash, targets world title at 115 pounds
Former WBC flyweight titleholder Charlie Edwards will fight for the first time in over a year when he returns up at bantamweight against Kyle Williams at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London on Saturday.
The 10-round bout is chief support to the Josh Taylor-Apinun Khongsong junior welterweight championship fight and will air on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT) in the U.S. and BT Sport in the U.K.
Edwards, who never lost his world title in the ring, is eager to get back to work after an extended absence, and he appreciates that his status as a former world titleholder puts a target on his back.
“With me moving up as a world champion, it’s [William’s] World Cup final if you like, it’s his break on the scene,” said Edwards (15-1, 6 knockouts) in a recent interview with The Ring.
“I’m expecting a tough fight from him. He’s a great fighter, he’s experienced at that weight, and he’s been in with some great fighters. I’m sure he’s going to bring his ‘A’ game.
The 27-year-old expects the former British title challenger to present an awkward style, although he’s confident of deciphering whatever comes his way.
“I think he’ll try to be awkward at times; switching to southpaw,” said Edwards, who, as usual, prepared himself with Grant Smith at the Steel City Gym in Sheffield. “He can be rough inside, try to chuck you around a little and upset your rhythm. Whatever he brings, I’ll be ready.”
Edwards feels that he just has to be himself and opportunities will present themselves.
“He’s very open; he allows you to judge your range quite well, and he reaches in a lot and comes over his front foot,” explained Edwards. “He’s going to create openings for me. I’m not going to have to think, I’m just going to have to react.
“I’ll hit him quite a lot, and if I land a well-timed punch, I wouldn’t be surprised if I hurt him.”
The last time we saw Edwards he was in against Mexican fireplug Julio Cesar Martinez last August.
The fight ended in controversy in Round 3 when Edwards was caught to the body while on the canvas. The bout was officially declared a no-contest.
Soon afterwards, Edwards’ battle with the scales became too much, so he decided to vacate his title and move up in weight.
“I wasn’t happy with [the outcome of the Martinez fight],” he openly admitted. “Being down at flyweight absolutely killed me. I was putting my health and safety on the line. That fight showed me that I can’t perform at that weight anymore.
“I got checked out and the specialists said, ‘You’re putting yourself in severe danger.’ I dropped 5 kilos (11 pounds) the day before the weigh-in. It was ruthless and it was time to move up.”
Edwards admits that he’s endured something of an emotional rollercoaster in recent times, but he feels ready to move on and make another title run in a higher weight class.
“It been sad, it’s been gutting, it’s been a dark time, especially being out of the ring for a year,” Edwards said. “But I allowed my body to recover, recuperate, and I’m ready to go again, physically and mentally.
“Moving up was a no-brainer. Being a world champion at flyweight always had [a time limit] for me. I used to be a junior bantamweight, then I moved down for the [Cristofer] Rosales [world title] shot, and time took its course on my body and it shut down on me.
“But I’m feeling great now, I’m fully focused, I’m feeling stronger than ever up at this weight. I’m really looking forward to the night’s work.”
As well as switching weight classes, Edwards has also changed promoters.
“I just felt like I needed a clean slate; a new lease of life for my career,” he said. “I was with Matchroom for six years, and I had some great nights with Matchroom. I just felt like, towards the end, I needed a change.
“Frank [Warren] offered me a better career path. He also offered a better deal financially, which makes sense. When all is said and done, at the end of the boxing career, it’s how much money you have made.
“I’ve become a world champion and I’ve got another chance to become a world champion. Frank seemed more buzzing to be working with me, so it was a no-brainer.”
Edwards knows that he can’t look too far ahead, and that he must take one fight at a time.
“I can’t look past Saturday night,” he said. “I’ve fought anyone and everyone when opportunities have been presented to me, and the same goes moving forward. But I’m focused on Saturday night, then we’ll see who’s next.
“I’m not naïve, I’m not deluded, I’m not a world level bantamweight fight right this second. I wouldn’t be jumping in with [Naoya] Inoue and [John Riel] Casimero right now. My aim is to go down to junior bantamweight and be a world champion. Then we can grow into the weight and then step up.
“The next 12 months is going to be a great 12 months, especially with me and my brother being in positions to fight for world titles. It would be a dream come true for us both to make history on the same night. It’s always been a little dream of ours since we were kids, so let’s cross our fingers that it can happen.”
Williams turned professional in 2016 and won his first 10 fights to earn a shot at the British bantamweight title against talented Ukashir Farooq. He was stopped in five rounds but got back in the win column before dropping a 10-round split decision to Ionut Baluta last October. The 28-year-old has a record of 11-2 (3 KOs).