By: Ste Rowen
An early Christmas present and a dream realised. On the 22nd December last year, and in his second attempt in just fifteen fights, Charlie Edwards, in dominant fashion, defeated Cristofer Rosales to claim the WBC flyweight world championship. It came just over two years since his last world title attempt where he was stopped by John Riel Casimero in ten rounds.
But last December, Edwards was the man on the front foot, prepared to pressure and to take a punch to land two. Almost a coming of age fight for the 26-year-old, that proved he belonged with the elite at 112lb. Edwards has called out the current IBF super-flyweight champion and fellow Brit, Kal Yafai but Charlie’s first defence, this weekend at London’s Copper Box Arena, comes against Spaniard and Sergio Martinez managed fighter, Angel Moreno.
Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account
At a press-conference, Edwards, 14-1 (6KOs) reflected on his world title win and his first defence,
‘‘When the going was getting tough and it didn’t look like it was coming off I had to believe and I had to keep pushing…I’d come in to the gym with Grant (Smith, Trainer) and I was in tears cos nothing was coming off.
I want to be a British great and to be a British great I want to be a multi-weight world champion.
Not only am I headlining my own show, but I’ve got some former Team GB teammates on the show.
Angel Moreno is a great fighter. I think we’ve shared 24-rounds together but it’s gonna heat up really nicely on the night.’’
On paper the signs don’t look good for Moreno, 19-2-2 (6KOs). When the Spaniard has fought outside of his home country (once in France and Ukraine respectively), Angel has come unstuck. A 12-round defeat to Thomas Masson of France, but more significantly a unanimous decision defeat to current WBA flyweight champion, Artem Dalakian, back in 2015 when the Ukrainian was 10-0.
Almost four years on from the Dalakian defeat, Moreno has only fought a scheduled 12-round bout once, his defeat to Masson in 2016. The furthest Angel has gone – and won – is ten rounds vs. gatekeeper, Jose Rivas in the backend of 2017.
However, Moreno will be hoping to follow fellow Spaniard, Sergio Garcia (against Ted Cheeseman), in upsetting the Brit, on foreign soil,
‘‘Charlie is a great boxer, but anything can happen on the night…I don’t think Sergio’s win was any surprise. I will certainly look to take inspiration from that.’’
Also on Saturday night’s card at the Copper Box is light-heavyweight rising star, Joshua Buatsi who looks to improve to 10-0 whilst also winning the vacant British 175lb strap vs. Liam Conroy.
Buatsi, 9-0 (7KOs) was last seen in the ring making lightwork of former super-middleweight IBO champion, Renold Quinlan – knocking him out in the 1st round. In fact, Josh has stopped his last three opponents in the 1st round and now, with the British belt vacant, the timing seems perfect for the much-hyped Buatsi to take his first significant belt as a pro,
‘‘The title is part of the journey I’m taking. So Conroy is the man that’s been put forward and March 23rd, it’s gonna happen…I’ve been getting the sparring that’s been more than ten rounds. As the rounds go on I get better, stronger, fitter. I’ll be there from 1-12 so whatever number it is, I’ll take it.
Don’t be surprised if it’s the 1st.’’
Conroy, 16-3-1 (8KOs), has been waiting a while for a shot at the Lonsdale belt. The 26-year-old is on a 9-fight win streak, stretching back to late 2015. His five straight stoppage victories also make Conroy more than a live dog against the Olympic silver medallist. He seemed in confident mood when he spoke to the media,
‘‘It’s been a long time coming. I won my British title eliminator in 2017 and I’ve been working relentlessly…It’s not about the opponent, it’s about the title. No matter who it was, I would’ve took it.’’
Fighting in an intriguing British-Commonwealth cruiserweight unification, British (and former Commonwealth champ, Lawrence Okolie takes on current Commonwealth titlist, Wadi Camacho in a scheduled 12-rounds.
Okolie, 11-0 (8KOs) has been understandably criticised for past bouts, especially against former British champion, Matty Askin where, despite his proven punching power, Lawrence took a very hug-filled approach to fighting to see him through the full twelve rounds. But if any British cruiserweight can force the action out of Okolie, it must surely be Camacho.
And the two men have a shared opponent in Isaac Chamberlain who Okolie dropped twice and decisioned over twelve and Wadi was beaten over ten.
Camacho, 21-7 (12KOs), claimed the Commonwealth with a Technical Decision over Arfan Iqbal and combined with hooking up with a new team, is confident of defeating the odds-on favourite,
‘‘I’ve been reborn since my last two fights and whoever was there watching it, what you saw was just a little glimpse…Everyone knows I’m an entertaining fighter. I’ve never been in a dull fight and I’ll give it my all.’’
Lawrence fought just last month, dropping Tamas Lodi four times en route to a 3rd round TKO, and after, at times, looking a little confused on how he wants to fight as a pro, Okolie is keen on another short night on Saturday,
‘‘I see Wadi on social media calling me names but when he comes up here he’s very quiet and respectful so hopefully he can bring that same energy from social media to the fight…When I stop and think, I was working at McDonalds and yet somehow I’ve become an Olympian, somehow I’ve won the British title, somehow I’ve won the Commonwealth title, somehow I’m gonna knock out Wadi Camacho on Saturday.’’