IT'S SUNNY'S TIME TO SHINE
By Frank Warren
ON FRIDAY NIGHT Sunny Edwards has the opportunity to punch himself into the flyweight history books by beating a highly decorated champion in Moruti Mthalane and taking home the IBF world title belt.
When we signed Sunny up just a few learning fights into his professional career, it quickly became evident that he was world champion material. He has got a big dash of that X-factor, he is fearless, stubborn, has plenty to say for himself and, most importantly, he has a winning style all of his own when he hotfoots it into the ring.
He is not an explosive knockout merchant and you know what you are going to get from Sunny, which is a mesmerizing array of skills, evasive ability and nifty footwork. Preparing a gameplan to fight him must be a tactical minefield.
The art of boxing is to hit and not be hit and you would have to say that Sunny is the master exponent of this.
It would have been fun to have taken Sunny more down the domestic route, with the local rivalries always catching the imagination of the public and putting more of a shine on fights. With the exception of Marcel Braithwaite, none of the other flyweights or super flys in this country wanted to know, which was a pity and must have been frustrating for Sunny.
However, the fights he was given, mostly against grizzled Mexicans will have done him much more good in the long run. The name recognition might not have been there, but these were tough men who have helped put him in the position he is today and given him that greater experience.
There is no doubt that Sunny will be up against it when he steps in with the South African Ring Magazine No.1 ranked Mthalane. I believe though, that our man possesses the variety, speed and footwork to flumox the 41-fight veteran.
Everything in boxing is about timing and we have to hope we are putting Sunny in for his shot at the right time. I believe he will prevail and have his arm raised towards the York Hall ceiling at the end of a memorable Friday night.
Also on the card, it will be interesting to see Michael Conlan take an opening gambit at super bantamweight and he is taking on a tough opponent in Ionut Baluta from Madrid, who has developed a habit of upsetting the Irish.
But perhaps a bigger cracker will be the final eliminator for the British super welterweight title between Troy Williamson and the Scot, Kieran Smith. They are both unbeaten, talented and hungry for big fights. The winner will get booked in for a tasty looking clash with the current champion Ted Cheeseman.
Earlier in the night, the card features two fighters who could well go all the way, but will certainly entertain us while trying. Now a super featherweight, Ryan Garner returns to the ring for the first time since last February insisting he has turned over a new leaf and has now immersed himself fully in the sport.
He has had a few mishaps along the way, but what is not in question is that he is a ferocious and precocious talent. If he is switched on and stays switched on, Ryan has got what it takes to reach the very top of the game.
Another who falls into the ferocious category is Andrew Cain, a hugely talented bantam or super bantam, who loves nothing more than a good scrap. Andrew is a five-time national champion as an amateur and could easily box his way to a successful future, but his mindset tells him he is in the entertainment business and he wants to deliver the thrills and spills.
He has had six fights, six knockouts and, in his own mind, he is ready to take on the world. Hopefully that will come all in good time, but it will be fun watching him try.
Tune in for Moruti Mthalane v Sunny Edwards for the IBF world flyweight title from 7pm on Friday on BT Sport1
FRIDAY WILL BE our second consecutive show at what is considered the spiritual home of British boxing and we had a cracker last Saturday although, ultimately, the result of the headliner did not go our way.
Denzel Bentley suffered defeat in coming up against an excellent performance from Felix Cash but, as boxing realists will tell you, if you take proper hard fights that people want to see, you can lose.
The BBBoC called the fight on and, as British champion, there was no way Denzel was not going to accept a challenge for his belt. In much the same way as Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce were not going to back down when they were paired up for a title collision and Willy Hutchinson wasn’t going to turn down a shot at the British title against Lennox Clarke.
Too often the Board mandates fights and one party or the other withdraws and it is never spoken of again. If they are good fights that the fans want to watch, then we should all do our utmost to make them happen. I keep saying a loss is not the end of the road for fighters and, to be quite honest, the way people speak to the losing fighters is like there has been a death in the family.
Sure, a first defeat is hard to take, but most fighters always tell you they come back stronger and more resilient for the experience. The outcome on Saturday night is Felix marches on and Denzel goes again, which he will.
There was some supposed controversy over David Adeleye being awarded the decision over Kamil Sokolowski, which I don’t see at all. What I do know is that David will take so much from the fight and learn more than he would in several more routine assignments. David is a five fight novice who courageously took a giant leap up in competition, so keen is he to get ahead. I think he won the fight but, either way, he deserves great credit for his bravery and ambition.
Yes, he should have used his jab more and shouldn’t have let the big Pole walk him down. But, if the result has really annoyed you, I suggest sitting down and watching it again, like I have. You don’t score points in boxing for simply being on the front foot and pushing forward. David hardly took a shot and there was not a mark on him, while he did land a few on his game opponent. Count the punches and you will see where I am coming from.
Callum Johnson was magnificently brutal in his crushing of the Croatian Emil Markic, who definitely came to have a bash. How Callum stayed upright in the first round after taking a huge wallop, I will never know, but he regrouped, set about his opponent and didn’t give him an inch from that point on.
Elsewhere on the card, I thought Henry Turner was a joy to watch. If you like pure boxing and smart southpaws, then Our ‘Enry is your man. Another who is impressing me greatly is our light heavyweight newcomer Karol Itauma who, to me, has got success written all over him.
Although, I should say, with all our youngsters who are developing in the professional ranks, it is very early days and we shouldn’t expect too much too soon. They are exceptional but we can’t – and won’t – rush them.