Sunny Edwards believes a successful defence of his IBF flyweight world title on Friday will be the launchpad to set up high-profile bouts against fighters in smaller weight classes.
Edwards talks as fast as he boxes and one of his ideas is for a tournament made up of boxing brothers featuring the likes of himself, Naoya Inoue and Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez and their siblings.
Edwards (18-0, 4 KOs) who faces Mexico’s Felix Alvarado (38-2, 33 KOs) at the Sheffield Arena in England on Friday, is prepared to move up in weight class to fight the big names and suggests it could be done as part of a unique competition featuring brothers who are among the best in the world at flyweight, junior bantamweight, bantamweight and junior featherweight.
Edwards’ older sibling Charlie (17-1, 7 KOs), 29, made one defence as WBC flyweight world champion in 2019 while Texas brothers “Bam” Rodriguez (17-0, 11 KOs) and Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8 KOs) hold the WBC and WBA junior bantamweight titles respectively. Franco has been in three fights with Australia’s Andrew Moloney (25-2, 16 KOs), whose twin Jason (25-2, 19 KOs) lost to bantamweight world champion Inoue two years ago.
WBC-WBA-IBF king Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs), from Japan, is one of the best boxers in the world at any weight, and his younger brother Takumi (16-1, 3 KOs) is also highly ranked at bantamweight and junior featherweight.
Former WBA junior bantamweight champion Kal Yafai (26-1, 15 KOs), from England, and younger brothers Gamal (19-2, 11 KOs) and Galal (2-0, 2 KOs), who won an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo 2020, is another family well represented in the lighter weight classes.
“We have something right now that might not ever be able to be reciprocated again, you could put teams of two brothers against each other in a tournament with a system for a win,” Edwards, 26, told ESPN. “Me and Charlie for team one, then team two would be Kal and Galal Yafai, then team three would be Andrew and Jason Moloney, team four would be ‘Bam’ Rodriguez and Joshua Franco, and team five would be the Inoue brothers.
“What a round of fights between brothers that would be. We’re all in the same weight classes, there’s a storyline, and we could fight on the same card. I’ll give Charlie the easier fight if he wants. There’s only one world between us so I would have to fight the best one.”
Edwards used to spar with Charlie and is not ruling out fighting against him in the future.
“We had very good spars, they got heated and if that ever happened it would be one of our best ever fights,” Edwards added. “For a long time Charlie agreed I was the man, but what ever he is doing, [his] trainer Joe Gallagher has got him thinking he can beat me again. I thought I had knocked that confidence out of him a long time ago, but if Charlie wants the fight, he can come and get it — he might actually accept it this time.”
For now, Edwards is happy with the challenge ahead of him in Alvarado, 33, from Nicaragua, who relinquished the IBF junior flyweight title to step up a division.
“I think he’s the most dangerous man in the division outside of me,” Edwards said. “He’s the only person at my weight who is a real world champion like myself. He was IBF [junior] flyweight champion and moved up without losing his title. He’s a tremendous puncher and only lost against world champions and it’s good to face someone who set their targets on facing me, it’s nice to have someone who is confident of fighting me because I’ve not had that yet.”
Edwards, a skillful mover in the ring, is desperate to face the top names after accusing WBC flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez and others of avoiding him.
“None of the other fighters, champions, want to fight me,” Edwards said. “They don’t want to unify the titles, it’s pathetic. Felix is the last name I need to clean up at flyweight before I move up because there are not the exciting fights as there are at super flyweight or bantamweight, which I think I can go to.
“I chased the Julio Cesar Martinez fight for the last 18 months as champion and before that as well, when my brother Charlie was world champion and got beat up by him. I never even got close to it. For six weeks we had accepted terms, date and location, money, and then after starting camp he decided he needed more money.
“Just this year I’ve had Martinez make a fight and then pull out, then Ricardo Sandoval decided to take another fight as well. [WBA champion] Artem Dalakian didn’t want to know. [WBO champion] Junto Nakatani is the only other person I want to fight at flyweight.
“I want to compete with the likes of Inoue, Rodriguez, [Roman] Gonzalez, [Juan Francisco] Estrada and Nakatani. I don’t want easy fights. I’m a nightmare for anyone on my day. I need to face these guys to get the challenge I need.”