Sunny Edwards outclasses and outpoints Muhammad Waseem, retains IBF 112-pound title
Southpaw Sunny Edwards made a successful second defense of the IBF flyweight title by scoring a wide 12-round unanimous decision over Muhammad Waseem at the Duty Free Tennis Stadium in Dubai on Saturday. The official scores were 116-110, 115-111 and 115-111. The Ring scored the bout 117-109.
Edwards, who is rated No. 3 by The Ring at 112 pounds, is often accused of being a runner. However, he engaged Waseem a lot more than he had to, particularly in the first half. It made for exciting action and the defending champ’s improvised counterpunching and defense got the better of the challenger’s robotic offense.
“I wanted to mix it up a little bit and Waseem is a world-class operator and very good inside,” said Edwards (18-0, 4 KOs) in relation to his tactics. “I thought I had the rounds bagged, but you need to prove it in here, you need to learn on the job. I thought I was always one step ahead tonight.”
Edwards boxed well over the first two rounds, but held his feet and fought off the ropes in the third, which allowed Waseem to get off. That inside success came at a price, however, as the challenger suffered a cut to his right eye from a clash of heads.
Another cut opened up around the left eye in Round 4, and Waseem was deducted a point for rough tactics in the sixth. He was beginning to lose his shape and his frustrations were compounded when Edwards blasted him with two perfect right hook counters at the end of that round.
Point deductions became the standout narrative of the fight when Waseem was penalized again for use of the head in the seventh. He was committed to applying relentless pressure, but now had to exercise caution in order to avoid a DQ loss.
The challenger responded well in the eighth and posted his best round of the fight. Edwards was stationary against the ropes for long periods and Waseem focused on short punches and plenty of volume.
That attack soon faded, however, and when he’s given time and room to move, Edwards is a nightmare for any flyweight in the world. He sparkled with some terrific pull-counter rights and check hooks off the backfoot. The Pakistan-born Waseem was largely chasing shadows in the championship rounds.
The 26-year-old Edwards won the title in April of last year when he outpointed long-reigning champ Moruti Mthalane. A big underdog, the Englishman produced a skillful and polished display against the South African veteran. Edwards followed up with a comprehensive decision win over IBF mandatory Jayson Mama in December.
The outspoken Londoner hopes to lure Mexico’s WBC titleholder, Julio Cesar Martinez, into a unification bout.
“I want The Ring Magazine [title], I want the WBC [title], and that’s what I’m gonna get,” he said.
Waseem, 34, falls to 12-2 (8 KOs).
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Tom Gray is managing editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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