Sunny Edwards comes back after an injury to face Jayson Mama in Dubai
Fleet-footed slickster Sunny Edwards had been all set to defend his IBF flyweight title for the first time against Jayson Mama on September 11, when he injured his ankle and had to postpone the fight.
Now, Edwards is fit and ready to lock horns with his mandatory challenger at the Coca-Cola Arena, Dubai on Saturday.
“I was bitterly disappointed when the fight didn’t happen the first time,” Edwards (16-0, 4 knockouts) told The Ring. “I was taking my dogs for a walk and tripped over nothing. I tried resting it all weekend. By Monday, I went into the gym. I hadn’t even told my trainer at this point but I couldn’t put my weight on it 100 percent and my trainer made the decision that someone who worked all his life to win a world title wasn’t going in there at 60 percent.
“That’s been rectified, I’ve had rehab, physio, strength work put on to it. I’ve completed over 100 rounds in this camp. I feel ready and better than ever.”
The 25-year-old, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring at 112-pounds, has sympathy for his Filipino opponent.
“I know it must have been a very frustrating time period for Mama,” said Edwards who traveled to Dubai on December 6. “After what happened in the Moruti [Mthalane] fight [last December] and then watch me go and win the world title, the belt he was supposed to fight for and then for our fight to fall through.”
Edwards knows Mama is something of an unknown commodity but is preparing for whatever may come his way.
“You see time and time again when people go in thinking they’re levels above someone, they usually get shown they’re not,” he said. “It’s about showing them levels in the ring. I know I’ve got a threat against me. I know Mama is a very dangerous opponent.
“He’s very heavy-handed, he likes to plant his feet and let big shots go, it should make for an interesting clash of styles. He’s definitely not overlooked or underprepared for.
Edwards feels his world title win has improved him as a fighter and he is in a good place and confident mood heading into this maiden defense.
“I don’t feel beatable right now,” said Edwards, who relies on slick movement, defensive awareness and sharpshooting. “I just feel any round that I lose takes a lot out of an opponent. I think it’s very hard to win a round against me and do it efficiently for 12-rounds because of my approach to boxing.
“I’m just getting better; I’m just getting stronger and more mature as the months are going on. I’m 25 but I’m in the body of an 18, 19-year-old. I’m just starting to get hair on my chest and muscle definition. I know my best days are still to come. I’m constantly showing it in the gym, in sparring and in fights.”
The Sheffield-based Londoner has seen two of his rival flyweight champions fight over the past couple of weeks and has one of them in particular in his cross hairs.
“I knew [WBA titlist Artem] Dalakian would punch [Luis] Concepcion’s head in – there’s just levels,” he said before diverting his attention to another champion in his weight class. “[WBC titleholder Julio Cesar] Martinez was a funny one, I think he showed his vulnerabilities, he also showed his strengths. He can be hurt but he also showed he can be dangerous straight off the back of that.
“His style and his approach to boxing – I’m a big fan of. I won’t miss a Martinez fight. He’s a very good fighter, hence why he’s the fighter I want. I want the fights that not only I know are good and hard fights but the ones everyone else is gonna want to see. I want to have a fun, exciting career, whether that means I win all of ’em or have a couple of setbacks along the way – I don’t care.
“I’ve got big plans for next year, I want to unify, I want go undisputed, I want that Ring Magazine championship. So, I want to clear up my mandatory and ideally the perfect fight for me is Martinez, beat him and get The Ring Magazine championship. I genuinely believe that a fight with Martinez would capture the imagination of the world of boxing. At flyweight that very rarely happens. But that’s by the by if I don’t get past Mama, who brings his own threat, his own danger and comes with his own ambitions.”
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.