Sunny Edwards believes a successful defense of his IBF world bantamweight title on Friday will set the stage for high-profile bouts against smaller fighters.
Edwards talks boxing fast, and one of his ideas is a brotherhood boxing tournament featuring 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 England’s Sheffield Arena on Friday, is ready to move up a weight class to fight the big names and believes it can be done. As part of the unique competition, the world’s best brothers in featherweight, junior featherweight, bantamweight and bantamweight will compete.
Edwards’ older brother Charlie (17-1, 7 KOs), 29, will defend his WBC title 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 lightweight titles, respectively. Franco had three fights with Australian Andrew Moloney (25-2, 16 KOs), whose twin brother Jason (25-2, 19 KOs) lost to world lightweight champion Inoue two years ago.
Japan’s Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) is one of the best fighters in the world at any weight according to the WBC-WBA-IBF version, and his younger brother Takumi (16-1, 3 KOs) is also highly ranked. lightweight and junior.
England’s Cal Yafai (26-1, 15 KOs), former WBA junior lightweight champion, and younger brothers Gamal (19-2, 11 KOs) and Galal (2-0, 2 KOs), Olympic gold medalists in Tokyo, 2020, Another family is well represented in the lightweight categories.
“Right now we have something that will never go back, you can put teams of two brothers in the tournament with a win-win system,” Edwards, 26, told ESPN. “For the first team it would be Charlie and I, then the second team would be Cal and Galal Yafai, then the third team would be Andrew and Jason Moloney, the fourth team would be ‘Bam’ Rodriguez and Joshua Franco, and the fifth team would be the Inoue brothers.
“What would a brothers fight be like. We’re all in the same weight class, there’s a storyline and we can fight on the same card. If Charlie wants it, I’ll give him an easy fight. There’s only one fight. The world between us, so I have to fight the best.”
Edwards sparred with Charlie and wouldn’t rule out fighting him in the future.
“We had some really good pitchers, they got hot, and if that happened, it would have been one of our best matches,” Edwards added. “Charlie has long accepted that I’m a man, but no matter what he does, [his] Coach Joe Gallagher thought he could beat me again. I thought I had lost that belief in him a long time ago, but if Charlie wants a fight he can come and get it – this time he might actually take it.”
For now, Edwards is happy with the challenge ahead of Alvarado, 33, from Nicaragua, who gave up his IBF featherweight title to bolster the division.
“I think he’s the scariest person in the department besides me,” Edwards said. “He’s the only person in my weight class who’s a real world champion like me. He was the IBF [junior] became the lightweight champion and was promoted without losing the title. He’s a great fighter and he’s only lost to world champions and it’s good to fight someone who has a goal in front of me, someone I believe will fight me, because I haven’t had that.”
A master mover in the ring, Edwards is desperate to face top names after accusing WBC lightweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez and others of avoiding him.
“None of the other fighters, the champions, want to fight me,” Edwards said. “They don’t want to unify the titles, it’s a shame. Felix is a last name that I have to clear at lightweight before I move up because there are no more exciting fights than super lightweight or featherweight. Let’s go.
“I’ve been chasing Julio Cesar Martinez’s fight as champion for the last 18 months, and before that Charlie was the world champion and beat him. I didn’t even come close to him. For six weeks, we agreed on terms, date and location, money, then after starting camp he decided he needed more money.
“Just this year I fought Martinez and then I pulled out, and then I decided to fight Ricardo Sandoval again. [WBA champion] Artem Dalakyan did not want to know. [WBO champion] Junto Nakatani is the only person I want to fight at featherweight.
“I want to compete with the likes of Inoue and Rodriguez. [Roman] Gonzalez, [Juan Francisco] Estrada and Nakatani. I don’t want an easy fight. I’m someone’s nightmare on my day. I have to face these guys to get the challenge I need.”