Eddie Hearn could not wait to announce the flyweight unification championship in store for later this year.
Unfortunately, he had to do just that as minor details were sorted out for the terrific IBF/WBO title fight.
“The teams sometimes make things a little difficult,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com and other reporters while in New York City to otherwise promote the Edgar Berlanga-Jason Quigley DAZN-headlined show this Saturday. “There were little things holding it up, ring size, who walks out first and stuff like that. But the fight is now signed, one hundred percent. It will be late November, early December in the U.S. on the West Coast.
“This is pound-for-pound one of the best fights in boxing.”
Hearn noted earlier in the week that the fight was in final negotiations.
England’s Edwards (20-0, 4KOs) signed a blank check to fight any reigning titlist from the moment he claimed the IBF belt in a dominant April 2021 victory over long-reigning titlist Moruti Mthalane. Four defenses have followed, though the past two have come in lieu of a long-desired showdown with WBC titlist Julio Cesar Martinez (20-2, 15KOs; 2NC). Edwards made a point to sign with Matchroom to land a showdown with either Mexico City’s Martinez or San Antonio’s Rodriguez (18-0, 11KOs). The outspoken Brit debuted under Hearn’s promotion with a twelve-round win over unbeaten contender Andres Campos on June 10 at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
“We really wanted to announce the fight then, but we weren’t quite there yet,” Hearn noted. “Fair play to Suny, he couldn’t have been more willing to make the fight. No demands, he just said, ‘I’m in.’”
Rodriguez moved up to flyweight with the sole purpose of fully unifying the division. He vacated the WBC junior bantamweight title to pursue that dream and took the first step with a twelve-round win over Cristian Gonzalez in their April 8 vacant WBO flyweight title fight in his San Antonio hometown.
The DAZN headliner was intended to serve as a starting point for Hearn’s unofficial but fully committed flyweight tournament between all the reigning titlists. A slight delay came when Rodriguez fractured his jaw midway through his win over Gonzalez but has recovered and is back in the gym with his sights on attempting to claim a second belt.
Once Hearn was able to work out the final lingering details with Robert Garcia, Rodriguez’s manager and head trainer, he was able to reveal the news to the public. It comes just ahead of DAZN’s plans to announce its global schedule for the remainder of 2023—and also allowed the promoter to beat both boxers to the punch.
“DAZN wants to announce the whole schedule. If we didn’t announce the fight was signed, Sunny and Jesse would have,” Hearn quipped. “So that’s why we announced [Thursday] morning.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox