Sunny Edwards scores impressive upset win over Moruti Mthalane, claims IBF 112-pound title
When Moruti Mthalane and Sunny Edwards sparred years ago the former told the latter he would become a world champion.
What Mthalane, one of the most underrated champions of recent years, might not have realized was that it was his scalp Edwards would take on the night he was crowned IBF flyweight titleholder.
Edwards was simply wonderful in outboxing the 38-year-old champion by margins of 118-111, 120-108 and 115-113. He ran up a big early lead and had enough in the tank to fend of Mthalane’s late charge to take a deserved decision.
Edwards is now 16-0 (4 knockouts) and Mthalane, who hadn’t lost since a 2008 defeat to Nonito Donaire 16 bouts ago, is now 39-3 (26 KOs).
“It was a quiet build-up, we were friends before,” said Edwards. “I knew it would be hard. He was very good at closing the gaps down.”
He thought he’d won 7-5 or 8-4 and his promoter Frank Warren called it “a masterclass” and “the art of boxing.”
“I might not be pretty or exciting all the time but I’m hard to beat,” admitted Edwards.
Edwards made a positive start, moving well and landing shots from his customary unusual angles. He looked razor sharp in the second, switching stances and moving both ways to keep Mthalane guessing.
The champion landed a right hand but he was two rounds down after two. Sunny continued to dazzle and confuse the veteran in the third. Mthalane was applying pressure and making Edwards fight but the champion wasn’t doing much, keeping his guard high and walking forwards but not letting his hands go often.
It shouldn’t be ignored that Edwards’s variety also saw him land well to the body, particularly with lead right hooks into the South African’s side.
Mthalane, who had looked static and predictable, was getting closer towards the end of Round 5. He forced a few more exchanges, landed to the body and then scored with a couple of right hands.
“He’s feeling the pace, keep on him,” shouted Mthalane’s trainer Colin Nathan as his fighter got in close enough to momentarily trade in the sixth.
The rounds were getting closer. Edwards was throwing flurries and moving well but he was landing a lot on the gloves. That said, Mthalane was often missing by some distance as Edwards was no longer around when the champion threw.
It was bull-matador stuff in the eighth, Edwards throwing and then pivoting away before Mthalane could get untracked and the veteran was using up a lot of energy following Edwards around the ring.
The champion arguably had his best round in the ninth, and the 10th was also close but the challenger’s team knew they were six minutes from victory.
“The only way he’s going to beat you is to stop you,” said Edwards’s trainer, Grant Smith in the corner.
Mthalane enjoyed a strong 11th round and both sides prepared for Sunny to run to victory in the last. The 12th encapsulated the fight. Edwards was hard to hit, he landed his own shots and Mthalane couldn’t do what he needed to do to retain his title. Both celebrated at the end but Edwards knew he had won and Mthalane knew his title had gone.