It seems odd for Charlie Edwards to refer to his time as a world champion as “the dark days”, but it hard for Edwards to distinguish his reign as WBC flyweight champion from the pain and sacrifice it took to make the weight.
Edwards gave up the world title a year ago, a few days after retaining it via a no contest when Julio Cesar Martinez’s finishing blow in their title fight at the O2 Arena was delivered with Edwards clearly on the floor.
The prospect of making 8st (112 pounds) again was just too much. Indeed, giving up the title had been under discussion after he had drained himself to sneak inside the weight limit the day before.
On Saturday night he returns to the ring as a bantamweight against former Commonwealth champion Kyle Williams on the Josh Taylor-Apinun Khongsong at York Hall in East London.
“I’ve been out of the ring for a year but I think it has done me the world of good,” Edwards, 27, said. “I needed that time to help me recover. All those weight cuts have taken their toll, it took a lot out of my body.
“The last year has been a recovery year. Getting the right nutrition and working on myself, so although I have been out of the ring, I have been in the gym, doing a lot of hard work, learning the game and making myself stronger so I can operate at a high level again.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the ring now and putting the dark times behind me.”
Battling to make weight had become the norm for Edwards. When he first stepped in a ring, aged, 11, he weighed 45 kg. That means he only put on 12.7 pounds from the age of 11 to the age of 26.
“It is quite bizarre,” he said. “A year ago, I was boxing at flyweight, which is 50.8 kilos. I never had that growth spirt, or I was just having too much cake as a kid.”
Weight-making and nutrition is more straight-forward now, not least because his Swedish fiancée, Kristin, is a nutritionist. The couple met last year when Edwards was training in Marbella, Spain, where Kristin, who is also a personal trainer, was running a fitness and well-being camp. They are getting married next month and have a baby on the way in January.
“We met in Spain and haven’t looked back.” Edwards said. “We are getting married in October, but the numbers are going to be restricted. So, when this all calms down we will have a proper wedding ceremony abroad somewhere. I’ve never been so settled - 2020 wasn’t a complete waste of time.”
While he is stepping up to 118 pounds for this fight, the future could lie one division down.
“This fight is going to be at bantamweight, it will be a good weight division for me to grow into,” he said. “But to box at my old level, I would say I still have to box at super-flyweight.
“This is a great domestic dust up. I feel stronger than ever, I feel great physically and mentally. My reactions are so much better, I have never felt so good and so focussed.
“I have noticed in training how much I am hitting harder. My sparring partners have been noticing it too. I’m looking forward to getting in the ring and feeling strong, showing people and proving to myself, how much making flyweight did kill me.”
With his brother, Sunny, looking at moving down from super-flyweight to flyweight. Both could be in for an exciting period ahead.
“In the next 12 months there is talk of a world title fight at super-flyweight,” he said. “Obviously, my brother is in a good position as well. We could both fight for a world title on the same card. I don’t think that has ever been done before by two British brothers, we could go down in history.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.