Sunny Edwards primed for Jayson Mama challenge, targets Ring Magazine championship
Fleet-footed slickster Sunny Edwards will make the first defense of his IBF flyweight title against unbeaten Filipino Jayson Mama at the Copper Box Arena in London on Saturday.
Edwards, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 112 pounds, is well aware that he has a target on his back following a brilliant upset win over long-reigning world titleholder Moruti Mthalane.
“I’ve got to bring my A-game but at this level you’ve got to every time,” Edwards (16-0, 4 knockouts) told The Ring. “I can’t just win a world title and expect everything to get handed to me. This is when the hard work starts.
“I’m looking forward to it. It should be good coming out as a world champion for the first time in front of a crowd in my hometown.”
The confident 25-year-old prefers to focus on his own skills rather than worry about what his opponent brings to the table.
“With what I do naturally it’ll open up similar things to any person I fight,” said Edwards, who relies on slick movement, defensive awareness and sharpshooting. “I feel like I can set him into my rhythm quite early and try to control and dictate the pace of the fight.
“I do know he’s young, hungry and very eager to get this win. I was where he was less than four months ago. I know the mentality he’s got going in there, so I know it’s going to have a different rhythm to Moruti. [Moruti] thought he could use his experience and patience to get to me and not panic, but I think this sort of fighter will come out the blocks a lot faster; try to establish himself a lot earlier in the fight. It’s up to me to keep doing what I’m doing.”
Edwards, who has as usual trained under the tutelage of Grant Smith in Sheffield, says life hasn’t changed too much since he beat Mthalane in April.
“I’m doing the exact same things I’ve always been doing,” said the new titleholder. “I’ve got a young family and I’ve got responsibilities. I’ve got my people around me who have been there for a few years. I’m trying to keep my feet very much on the ground.
“I’m still grafting away, taking it in my stride. It’s nice to be recognized for all the things I’ve believed. For years I’ve said I’d be at world level and it’s good I’ve validated my opinion with results.”
While Mama is largely unknown, Edwards isn’t overlooking his rival.
“When I get in the ring I don’t think anyone can beat me,” he said. “When I’m on it I’m on it and I am the best. I need to get through Mama, it’s a hard task.
“Maybe he’s thinking it’s an easier fight because it’s not the formidable Moruti; maybe he’s thinking Sunny’s just beat [Moruti], so it’s going to be very hard. My mentality is I just take it as it comes and enjoy the ride.
“I don’t queue up the defenses because one thing I’ve learned in this boxing game is anything you chase usually doesn’t happen. It’s best to just see where the opportunity lands.”
However, Edwards has set himself one particular goal.
“The one person on my hitlist is [WBC titlist Julio Cesar] Martinez, he’s the Ring Magazine number one and I’m Ring Magazine number two,” he explained. “If I do get that fight, not only will I be bringing the WBC title back to the Edwards household – it was never lost in the ring – [I’ll] bring the Ring Magazine title with it – I need one of them.”
Mama (16-0, 9 knockouts) turned professional in 2016. The 24-year-old scored career-best wins over former world title challenger Fahlan Sakkreerin Jr. (UD 10) and former WBA strawweight titlist Kwanthai Sithmorseng (TKO 3). He was due to face Mthalane last December, but the fight was cancelled at the 11th hour. Mama has patiently waited his turn and knocked off any ring rust in April, when he scored an eighth-round stoppage of journeyman Romshane Sarguilla.
Edwards-Mama, plus undercard action, will be broadcast exclusively by BT Sport in the U.K.