Sunny Edwards retained his IBF flyweight title in a scrappy main event with Muhammad Waseem today in Dubai, securing victory by way of unanimous decision.
The judges had the fight 115-111, 115-111, and 116-110, while we had it wider on our unofficial card at 117-109, but with a couple more rounds in the fight you could definitely see going Waseem’s way.
Edwards (18-0, 4 KO) started in his usual fashion over the first two rounds, but he chose to engage Waseem (12-2, 8 KO) more on the inside starting in the third, leaning against the ropes in situations where he clearly could have gotten out had he wanted to do so, opting to trade with Waseem.
That gave Waseem the chance to win some rounds, but mostly Edwards still appeared to be doing the better work, and when he let his hands go with any distance between them, he was definitely too quick and slick for Waseem, who put in a tough effort and got his chances, but just didn’t produce quite enough quality to win the fight.
“I keep getting told I’m running, so I wanted to mix it up a little bit. Waseem is a world class operator and good inside. Big respect to him and his coach, they came with a good game plan, I just thought I was always that step ahead tonight,” Edwards said. “I wanted to show I can mix it up and tough it out and score on my own. Some of them close rounds they probably slapped over to him, but I thought I won comfortably.”
Asked if he wanted to call out WBC titleholder Julio Cesar Martinez directly, Edwards said with a smile, “It’s not so much Martinez himself, I know he wants to fight, but Eddie Hearn, you’re the best promoter in the world, please, Eddie, give me that fight!”
Martinez broke through on the world scene back in 2019, when he went to London and appeared to stop Sunny’s brother Charlie Edwards in three rounds to win the WBC flyweight title. That was changed to a no-contest quickly because Martinez landed a shot while Charlie was on the canvas. Instead of a rematch, Sunny’s brother moved up in weight, and Martinez won the vacant title less than four months later. A fight between Sunny and Martinez has built-in selling points, plus it’s just a really good fight that could be a fascinating clash of styles.
“Today he was the better man,” Waseem said after the fight. “He’s a good fighter, but I was very strong, I like to fight in the Mexican style. The referee was not fair. There were headbutts by (Edwards), but I got the deduction to me. But today he was the better man, he won, and I said congratulations to him.”
Waseem also said that referee Benny Decroos was “rude” in the dressing room before the fight. Personally, from an outside perspective, I agree that the referee was a little harsh on Waseem, and particularly for the reasons Waseem stated, that it was a two-way street with the rough stuff and he was the only one penalized or even given a hard warning.
Regis Prograis TKO-6 Tyrone McKenna
This wound up a mismatch, which I think most who are familiar with both fighters expected. Prograis (27-1, 23 KO) just had way too much firepower for McKenna (22-3-1, 6 KO), who is a tough guy, entertaining, a likable fighter, but just didn’t have much for Prograis, it’s a level too much for him at the least.
Prograis dropped McKenna in the second round, but to his credit McKenna got up and kept fighting tough, giving this everything he had. Just not enough. The stoppage came due to a cut in round six. McKenna had his best round in the fifth, but probably still didn’t win it. He said after that his plan was to weather the early power and take it late, but that didn’t wind up happening.
“I knew he was tough. I dropped him, but I knew he was gonna get up, and it felt like he wasn’t hurt at all. So I just stayed on my stuff and boxed him,” Prograis said. “He just kept pushing forward, I had to get on my back foot and box a little more.”
Prograis also called out Jack Catterall, who was ringside, but not in a super aggressive or disrespectful way, just saying he wants the fight.
This was announced and billed as a WBC final eliminator, but a few things about that:
- It would be weird, period, for No. 3 ranked Regis Prograis to fight No. 17 ranked Tyrone McKenna in a final eliminator. You have to be in the top 15 to be involved in WBC world title fights, and I’m not certain but I think that holds true for being eliminator-eligible, too.
- Prograis came in ranked behind Jose Zepeda, who is No. 1 and the “silver” “champion,” and Jose Ramirez at No. 2. The expectation is still that Ramirez and Zepeda will rematch for the vacant WBC belt whenever Josh Taylor gets around to officially leaving his four straps behind, but that could change. Boxing is an aggressively stupid and shady business and stranger decisions have been made. But with Zepeda (who fights later tonight in a stay-busy in Mexico) and Ramirez both Top Rank-affiliated, that should get done. Should.
- The fight was listed by Probellum as a 12-rounder, standard for an eliminator, but then was 10 rounds on the TV graphics.
- None of this really matters much at the moment, whatever fight is going to happen for the WBC will happen, but it’s a fun reminder of boxing’s bizarre disorganization even at high levels.
Undercard highlights and results
- Peter McGrail RTD-2 Alexandru Ionita: The third pro fight for McGrail (3-0, 2 KO), who lost early in Tokyo but was a very good amateur. He got a tough, tough draw at the Olympics, no shame in who he lost to there, for the record. He diced up Ionita (7-11-1, 5 KO), who was called a “dangerous Romanian” ahead of the fight even though he’s now lost 10 straight and four in a row by stoppage. This was never a contest, but Ionita did try, which is why he gets these fights. This was stopped between rounds on advice from the ringside physician, and the referee was close to stepping in late in the second, too. Ionita was just way outclassed. McGrail is set to return on Probellum’s Apr. 22 show in Liverpool, his hometown.
- TJ Doheny TKO-2 Cesar Juarez: Juarez is pretty shot but still game. Being game got him clinically picked apart by Doheny, who looked really sharp and focused here, targeting the body heavily and giving Juarez hell. A dominant first round was followed by Doheny (23-3, 17 KO) dropping Juarez (27-11, 20 KO) on a left to the jaw in the second round, and the referee stepped in when Juarez backed off on another body shot. Juarez was complaining that he’d backed off because the shot was low, and it was borderline, but he was getting taken apart in there, so I’m not exactly furious with the referee’s call. Juarez will probably keep fighting, likely go back and win a couple lower level fights, get another fight like this one or the three he lost in a row between 2019-21, lose again, etc. You’ve seen it before. He’s only 30 but it’s a fairly old 30, he’s had some tough fights over the years and faced a lot of good fighters. As for the 34-year-old Doheny, he says he wants to get back to 122, where he held a title briefly, but he hasn’t fought at the weight in the last three years (four fights) so we’ll see. He’s still got something in the tank, though, at 122 or 126. Not saying he’s a top contender anymore, but he can still handle himself and there are good fights to be made.