Home Boxing News Sunny Edwards says unification bout against Bam Rodriguez is the culmination of...

Sunny Edwards says unification bout against Bam Rodriguez is the culmination of hard work

Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards. Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing

IBF flyweight champion Sunny ‘Showtime’ Edwards 20-0 (4) is set to make his USA debut when he takes on WBO counterpart Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez 18-0 (11) at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona on December 16.

The 27-year-old Brit has boxed abroad in the past – twice in Dubai and once in Spain in his professional debut – but the pressure on him this time will be like nothing he has ever experienced.

The Rodriguez bout will be the fifth defence of the world title Edwards won in a boilover against South African veteran Moruti Mthalane 40-3 (26) two-and-a-half years ago.

Texan southpaw Rodriguez, 23, promises to ask a lot of questions of Edwards with his clever boxing and heavy hands.

But the IBF boss says he is ready for anything thrown his way.

“This is the fight that I have been waiting for before it was even Bam,” Edwards said.

“Before he went up in the weights and shocked a great fighter and continued to do all of that, before that I’ve been waiting for the big event and I think Jesse is one of the best fighters under 30 in the world right now.

“I don’t think it’s the only time we’ll be sat here and I don’t think it’s the only weight we’ll fight at either, I think we’ll see each other again.

“I’m really looking forward to the event, the whole process so far has been great… This is what it’s about, sitting here, seeing his WBO title. I was on the WBO route before I was on the IBF route, so I’ve got all the WBO and IBF baubles around my house, so to have the two proper belts is a dream come true.

“I crave the challenge. Boxing has probably been too easy for me; I’ve been too much within myself. I am already into camp, I’ve been in Tenerife for a couple of weeks, had great sparring, I’m flying.

“If anything, the amount of time is a problem, but we have a good run up, we can build the fight up and it gives Bam time to recover from the last fight and the injury. I know what that’s like because I’ve been there myself.

Edwards, who is one of the great talkers of the sport, said there was little point needling Rodriguez before their bout.

“Mind games, trying to get little advantages, get them in certain gloves, the ring size – all of that is so immaterial to me,” he said. “He’s a great fighter, he’s shown that he’ll fight scarier fighters than me on paper at a weeks’ notice, so am I going to try and get inside his head? I don’t need to.

“His approach, demeanor and character in the sport is who he is, he’s not trying to be anyone else, he hasn’t taken this fight and started acting different.

“I don’t think I need an advantage; I think I am good enough. Bam is a tremendous fighter but the reality is to walk through the gates and get to the other side where I show how good I am, that I’ve got to go through a 23 year old fighter, that’s just the way I see it, a 30 year old Bam will be better than a 23 year old one.

“I’ve been in with fighters every bit as good as him, fighters that if he was in with them, it would be a hard fight for him. We’ll find out about each other in the ring. I don’t need to get in his head, I just like speaking about the fight and every day I wake up excited about it.”

Conventional wisdom suggests that the way to defeat the light-punching Edwards is to cut off the ring, but in reality it’s not that simple.

“It’s easy to just say ‘you have to cut the ring off against Sunny’ – everyone can cut the ring off,” Edwards said. “The thing with me is, I don’t go in with a set plan; I get in there, measure my range and let them beat themselves.

“I don’t knock people out. I don’t need to. Sixteen unanimous decisions. I’ve beaten the best in the world, people that haven’t lost in 13 years, eight years, lots of KOs. I’m not scared of them, I sit in the pocket and trade with them, there’s nothing I haven’t seen in a boxing ring.

“[Rodriguez] has got very good footwork, I’ll give him that, but defensively, reactions, composure, ring IQ – I feel I’ve got a skillset and mindset that is very hard to break down. To even get two rounds of success in a row is a hard enough task for most of my opponents.”