By: Oliver McManus
A veritable curtain-raiser for the next Saturday’s show-stopper at the 02, Frank Warren promoted at the Brentwood Centre tonight (15th December) with a whole host of fighters looking to set up a huge 2019. Sam Bowen was scheduled to defend his British title against Ronnie Clark and Daniel Dubois was due to face Razvan Cojanu but both fights were pushed back due to injury / illness.
Headlining instead were a pair of WBO International title fights with Bradley Skeete taking on Diego Ramirez and Sunny Edwards facing Junior Granados. Both men were ranked 13th with the WBO prior to fight night – in the super-fly and welterweight divisions, respectively – and looked to build on this ahead of next year.
Edwards, fresh off the back of a dominant victory over Ryan Farrag, was originally slated to contest the WBC International belt against his Mexican counterpart but opted to strengthen his reputation with the WBO, instead.
Granados returned to British Isles for the first time since 2015 when he took on Jamie Conlan – that particular contest held in Dublin. A thrilling fight over 10 rounds, Granados dropped Conlan twice in the seventh round before narrowly losing on points. A classic display of Mexican grit and, you suspected, the blueprint for Granados’ fight at Brentwood.
The fight began with Edwards, newly a father, beating Granados to the jab as both men looked get it popping. Circling in the middle of the ring, it was a tepid opening three minutes but Edwards landed the more meaningful punches.
Having found his range in the first round, Edwards looked lighter on his feet in the second and registered some accurate right hands to signal his intentions. Having pawed out with the left hand, he left himself open to a clubbing right hand from Granados. The first punch of significance from the Mexican sent the home fighter to the canvas, bolt from the blue, but a flash-knockdown rather than anything serious.
Edwards seemed to regain composure quickly and the 22 year old showed maturity to stick to his gameplan, not letting the adrenaline alter his mindset. As with his fight against Farrag, Edwards was showcasing his fluid footwork that marks him out as a technical threat – capable of fighting in the pocket and on the back foot.
The Croydon-man was easing through the rounds, staying alert to Granados’ attempted aggression, and began to tee off when up close. Granados, if we’re honest, showed a fraction of the heart we had expected and, for the most part, was being out-boxed by his younger counterpart. Less of an explosive performance than against Ryan Farrag but, still, an impressive body of work from Edwards.
An argument could be made for an increased work rate as the fight rattled into the final third as Edwards, up on the scorecards, could have looked to force the case. All being said, there was no real need to do so but it would have been good to see how much he had left in the tank. A switch-hitter, Edwards was predominantly impressing from the southpaw stance and looked comfortable throughout.
A rhythm emerged throughout the rounds as Edwards continued to walk down his opponent, out-boxing the South American, with bursts of trading occurring periodically. A cruising night of work for the super-flyweight, Edwards added the WBO International strap to his collection via scorecards of 99-91, 97-92 and 98-91. But surely, surely, Jay Harris and the British title await in 2019?
Bradley Skeete was attempting to capture the first new title of his career since he won both the British and Commonwealth belts from Sam Eggington in March 2016 – though, of course, he defended the British belt three times thereafter. Against Diego Ramirez he faced a former WBO Latino champion who had amassed 48 rounds in the last 12 months.
Ramirez was fighting in his trademark camouflage shorts, Skeete in a coral blue. The opening bell rang and Skeete took to the centre of the ring, keeping his hands around the midriff and looking to work an opening. In his last fight, against Demian Fernandez, the Argentine was guilty of him planting his feet a little too firmly and Skeete was clearly the lighter-mover through the opening phases.
A confident left jab opened up the body of Ramirez, allowing Skeete to land a couple of hooks to the exposed region. Ramirez offered little resistance, keeping his head tucked behind the guard and simply trying to evade the shots of Skeete. With a minute to go of the second round, the Argentine suddenly sprung to life with a looping left hook landing plumb to the face of Skeete – good timing, more than anything.
The Brit hit the floor heavily, seemingly dazed, and sought to hold on for dear life having beat the count. Ramirez continued his onslaught but with Skeete in the corner, Bob Williams was forced to intervene as Skeete struggled to find his bearings. A freakish recreation of his bout against Kerman Lejarraga, almost shot-for-shot.
Diego Ramirez pulled out a performance of a lifetime as scars remain from Skeete’s contest with Lejarraga. A rebuild mission for 2019 but the remaining question is, how much does he want it?
For Sunny Edwards it is onwards and upwards, the super-flyweight looks technically world class but will do well to get experience before pushing on. Skeete, on the other hand, his future is up in the air. For such a nice guy it would be an awful shame were this to be his final memories in the ring. Who said boxing was a simple sport?