ORLANDO -- Sunny Edwards has heard every opponent put before him vow to be the first to hang a loss on his career.
To date, none have come close.
The brash, unbeaten IBF flyweight titlist fully expects to leave his next fight with his reign still intact and with Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez’s WBO belt in his possession. The two had their first official press conference and face-off to formally announce their December 16 unification on DAZN from Desert Diamond Casino in Glendale, Arizona.
Both acknowledged that the other represents a tougher challenge than either has experienced on their respective title runs. Whatever the 23-year-old Rodriguez (18-0, 11KOs) brings to the ring, Edwards is confident he will have a response.
“The thing with me is, I don’t go in there with any real sort of set plan. I get in there, use my range and let [the opponent] be himself every single time,” Edwards stated during Thursday’s press conference at Caribe Royale Orlando. “I don’t knock people out but I don’t need to. Sixteen wins by unanimous decision. I’ve beaten the best there is. People who haven’t been beaten in eight years, people with knockouts coming out their arse. There’s nothing I haven’t seen in a boxing ring.”
“To even win two rounds in a row is a hard enough task for my opponents.”
Edwards (20-0, 4KOs) has long ago established himself as the class of the flyweight division, just without the unification bouts to show for it. The 27-year-old Brit, originally from Croydon, London, has made five successful defenses of the IBF title he claimed in an April 2021 win over long-reigning titlist Moruti Mthalane.
Among his defenses were wins over two unbeaten boxers and a former titlist in Nicaragua’s Felix Alvarado, who was given a puncher’s chance to win but was ultimately outboxed over twelve rounds last November 11 in Sheffield.
Rodriguez won his WBO flyweight title in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over Cristian Gonzalez on April 8 in his San Antonio hometown. The win saw the Gen-Z southpaw become a two-division titleholder, but had to overcome a broken jaw to accomplish the feat.
It was Rodriguez’s first fight back at flyweight after he moved up to junior bantamweight where he won and twice defended the WBC title all in a three-fight campaign last year. Rodriguez beat former titleholders Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in back-to-back fights, his supreme skill set well on display and garnered accolades as among the most talented boxers in the sport.
“He does have very good footwork” admitted Edwards, who makes his U.S. debut. “I give him that. But I feel like defensively, ring IQ, composure, I’ve got a skillset and mindset that is very hard to break down.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox