Sunny Edwards shook his head during speeches at the final press conference before his fourth IBF flyweight title defence on Saturday night against Andres Campos. The unbeaten 27-year-old sat bemused in his chair as his promoter, Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, appeared to begin something akin to a roast of the 160cm fighter.
It might not have been a tactic that Hearn, celebrating his 44th birthday, would have chosen if he hadn’t towered a foot over the 19-0 flyweight, but in order to unravel the knots of their previous relationship together, a “cards on the table” approach prevailed.
“I didn’t particularly used to like him,” Hearn opened with at the press conference in London. “I used to watch him on social media and think, ‘I’m not sure about this kid,’ and had to pull him up a few times on things he said.
“But I thought, if you can’t beat them, sign them. I didn’t want him to win the fight against Moruti Mthalane, but I watched that fight and he was unbelievable — didn’t lose a second of any round. And I believe that he’s a very special fighter. A fighter that could go on to become undisputed in the flyweight division.”
Edwards took the back-handed compliments well. He has always come across — online and in the flesh — as a very intelligent fighter, and one that understands the whole package of the sport well.
Limited opportunities in big fights, according to Edwards, saw him jump ship from Queensberry Promotions to Matchroom, and unification fights with the likes of Artem Dalakian, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, and Julio Cesar Martinez are all that consumes his thoughts.
From the outside it sounds like he is underestimating his Chilean challenger this weekend, Andres Campos (15-0, 4 KO), and, in agreement with the betting markets, he can probably afford to due to the way he controls fights and the challenger’s lack of power.
Edwards’ brash attitude and unwillingness to toe the line will suit a relationship with Hearn. Their combined gift of the gab will enable Edwards to edge closer to becoming a well-known fighter in the United Kingdom; breaking into that household name territory still feels a way off.
And an understanding that it’s strictly business will mean Edwards won’t get wrapped up and blinkered by his new position in Hearn’s stable. He’ll smell the bullshit from a mile off and his active presence on social media will allow him to call it out as soon as the first scent hits.
This weekend’s contest with Campos is, regrettably, nothing more than a Matchroom unveiling for Edwards, but the future could become apparent as soon as next week. Bam Rodriguez won’t be in attendance inside the Wembley Arena, but if he was, then an orchestrated head-to-head following the event would have been odds on. Hearn has stated this week that talks are ongoing for this flyweight unification fight.
And what of big brother Charlie? Hearn will be licking his lips at the prospect of a brother vs brother fight between the Edwards’ down the line. The pair has traded words on Twitter with the narrative needing no more work than a genuine (?) family feud.
“He is arguably Britain’s best pound-for-pound fighter at the moment,” Hearn stated confidently of his new charge in the run up to this weekend’s world title triple-header.
He might be. He might not be. But in Hearn, Edwards has found a home where he can be himself. And importantly, where people will listen — as a heel, as a babyface or somewhere in between.