By Alan Hubbard
One of the biggest hits of Queensberry’s enterprising ‘double bubble’ at the Copper Box did not throw a single punch. Sitting at ringside, young Sunny Edwards emerged as a punditry star in the making.
His between-rounds comments on Frank Warren’s Friday night show were spot on, intelligent and thoroughly entertaining.
No need for him to wonder where his future lies when he eventually pulls the gloves off his talented fists. With Lyndon Arthur in similarly good voice it was an indication of just how articulate today’s young boxes are, and how knowledgeable they are about their sport and those who practice it.
Excellent observational stuff too on the subsequent Saturday bill not only, as usual, from the smooth-toned John Rawling, who has established himself as the best boxing commentator in the business but guest pundits, the father and son team of John and Tommy Fury, who provided expert analysis of the fights and certainly in Big John’s case, pulled no punches when it came shrewdly analysing the ring performances.
John Fury is John Blunt. He certainly tells it how it is as we had already discovered when he lambasted one of eldest son Tyson’s less enthralling showings against the Swede Otto Wallin in the build-up to the second Deontay Wilder fight, telling him he needed to pull his finger out and change trainers.
I always enjoy the throaty summing ups from the Furys’ ex- heavyweight dad, who at 56 still looks fit enough to l throw a mean punch himself. When John bemoaned the fact that so many modern fighters don’t keep their hands up, Paul Dempsey asked Tommy whether he always did so when told to in the gym. “You bet”, replied the light heavyweight brother of the Gypsy King. “Otherwise I’d cop a right-hander from me dad.”
Edwards and Fury snr are something of a commentary coup for BT and Queensberry and more power to their opinionated voices.
In Sunny’s case he will have to articulate with his fists rather than his voice when he fights for the IBF world flyweight title against the formidable champion Moruti Mthalane on Friday April 30.
It is a tough ask for ‘Showtime’ Sunny as his is opponent is one of the toughest guys around in boxing today, having not lost in 13 years. But 25-year-old Edwards, the British super flyweight champion, has won belts at both fly and super fly, and is more mature than his 16-fight record suggests.
Since beating Ryan Farrag in October 2018, he has embarked on a run of six fights with titles on the line to cement his place in the world rankings and is one of the biggest guns in Frank Warrren’s burgeoning Queensberry artillery.
Sunny is as adept at assessing his forthcoming opponents as he is from his pundit’s pew at ringside.
“He is as legit as they come” he says. “A big puncher, 41 fights, 39 wins and 26 knockouts. If I go and do this, capture the world title in my 16th fight, nobody can really argue. This will qualify everything I have been saying – if I do it. Moruti is no pushover by any stretch of the imagination; he is a very, very, very good fighter.”
The South African, 38, is recognised as one the greatest of all current champions. “There can be no doubting that Sunny is up against a top-drawer fighter,” says promoter Frank Warren. “Mthalane possesses incredible experience and has beaten the leading guys around his weight, but I hope the timing is right for a changing of the guard at the top of the division.
“Sunny has demonstrated his readiness for taking on and, I hope, joining the elite and from his early days performing on our shows, I believed we had a special talent on our hands.
“I have never hidden my liking and admiration for Sunny. He is proving himself a major attraction on BT Sport, not just with his undoubted boxing ability, but also his personality that shines through in the way he goes about his work.
“Sunny is a character, no doubt about that, which is something the sport always needs and I shouldn’t think he ever finds himself lost for words. The thing with Sunny is he can back up what he says with huge natural talent that I am sure will excel on the world title stage.”
THE BIGGEST TURN-UP at the Copper Box undoubtedly was the stunning defeat of Willy Hutchinson by Lennox Clarke in their British and Commonwealth title fight. Like many viewers I could hardly believe my eyes when the 22-year-old much-vaunted Scottish prospect was sent tumbling in the fifth round, losing his 14-fight unbeaten record. The super middleweight starlet never looked himself and he seemed to be spooked by the cut he sustained in the corner of his left eye in the first round.
So has the Hutchinson ‘bubble’ burst? No one should be hasty in writing him off. Record books are full of boxers who have picked themselves up from the floor and gone on to have successful, even outstanding careers. Joe Bugner was knocked out in his first fight but ended up fighting Muhammad Ali for the world heavyweight title and earning quite a few bob in the process.
And my advice to Hutchinson, once he recovers from being shell-shocked, would be to tune in to the new BBC reality series featuring Amir Khan, his family and their lavish lifestyle. Khan, now 34 has reigned as a two times world champion yet Hutchison can be consoled by the fact the former Olympic silver medallist was knocked sparko by the little-known Colombian Breidis Prescott in his 19th contest…
I remember well that night of September 6, 2008 when there was much weeping and wailing backstage among the Khan clan after he had had been blasted out early in the first round. Frank was his promoter but did not give up on him, and neither will he on Hutchinson, whom he much admires. He helped Khan rebuild his confidence and four fights later he became the WBA world light welterweight champion.
The eight part TV series ‘Meet the Khans: Big in Bolton’, which began this week, makes fascinating viewing.
Life has changed somewhat for Khan since Athens 2004 when he became a national treasure, cheered on by his Pakistan-born born father famously adorned in a Union Jack waistcoat.
Now, despite literal ups and downs, he is among the wealthiest personalities in British sport, said to be worth upwards of £23 million.
Quite staggering to see how the boy from Bolton unashamedly splashes the cash. His home is palatial, his run-around is a blood red Lamborghini and there is a Rolls-Royce in the garage for use on special occasions.
If Amir Khan do it, why not Willy?