Some fighters go into every battle knowing that skill, guile, and toughness are their weapons because, once the first bell sounds, they’re almost certain to have to hear the bell sounding at the end of the twelfth to secure victory.
IBF flyweight titlist Sunny Edwards is one of those guys. Edwards has only four knockouts in nineteen starts and that doesn’t seem to bother him. Faced with no worse than the second best opponent of his career, Edwards rose to the occasion in multiple ways versus former Jr. flyweight titlist Felix Alvarado.
Early on, Edwards boxed brilliantly. Edwards was stepping into his shots, keeping Alvarado off balance and using his feet to leave Alvarado throwing at air. Edwards might have won the first six rounds with only the third being particularly close.
The fight changed in the seventh and became a new battle from there to the tenth. Edwards slowed a bit and Alvarado came on, clubbing away with power shots to the body and increasingly finding a home for his right hand. The tenth was a particularly entertaining three minutes. Alvarado went to work in the corner, battering an Edwards who fought back off the strands but was taking the worst of it. It looked like the fight was heading toward a dramatic finish.
It turned out the drama would be provided by Edwards.
After arguably losing four rounds in a row, Edwards went back to working the perimeter in the eleventh and resumed the control he had in the first half of the fight. The twelfth had moments for both but Edwards appeared to do enough there as well. When it mattered most, Edwards closed the show. He’s a real fighter, through and through. Where does that take Edwards next?
Futures: Before the winner, a quick comment on the loser. Alvarado gave a good account but his limitations were exposed in his first defeat in twenty-one fights. Alvarado’s only other losses are to Kazuto Ioka and Juan Carlos Reveco so beating him has taken a higher level at his weights but that level is pretty defined versus the rest of his resume. Alvarado is 33 so how many more chances he’ll have is questionable. He would at least be an interesting opponent for someone like WBA titlist Artem Dalakian.
Edwards says he wants unification and there was some chirping on Twitter between him and Bam Rodriguez. Rodriguez vacated his belt at Jr. bantamweight and will soon fight for a vacant WBO title at flyweight. Edwards has also publicly called for a scrap with WBC titlist Julio Cesar Martinez. Both fights would be intriguing and the Rodriguez fight would pit two high IQ boxers at odds in what could be a hell of a display. Edwards has now won four in a row against fighters ranked top ten by TBRB or Ring with Alvarado and Moruti Mthalane ranked by both. Only Junto Nakatani has a longer such streak. Let’s hope if Edwards goes for five, he gets his unification wish.
Jonas Goes Three for Three
On Saturday, Natasha Jonas made her case for female fighter of the year with a decisive decision victory over Marie Eve Dicaire. Jonas added the IBF belt to a growing trophy case at Jr. middleweight. That’s three for three in 2022, winning a belt in each of her fights this year. It was made all the more remarkable when one considers she had jumped from previously competing for titles at Jr. lightweight and lightweight. What can Jonas do as an encore in 2023?
Futures: Jonas is one belt from having all four of the major alphabet straps in her class though the lineal crown is still owned, and claimed, by Claressa Shields. The WBA belt at 154 belongs to Terri Harper and a rematch with Jonas would be interesting. Harper and Jonas battled to a draw in 2020 when Harper reigned at Jr. lightweight.
Jonas’ name has also been mentioned by Shields and Jonas mentioned her back after the fight on Saturday. Would Shields come back to Jr. middleweight for the fight or would Jonas challenge at the higher weight? Jonas still looks small at Jr. middle despite her belts and might be wiser to focus on Harper or a move down to welterweight to chase undisputed welterweight champion Jessica McCaskil. Two of those fights are winnable for Jonas. Shields isn’t though she’d get points for trying.
Despite the borderline obnoxious overuse of the word ‘boogeyman’ during the ESPN+ telecast, Janibek Alimkhanuly looked exactly like he is on Saturday. Alimkhanuly is a world class middleweight in his thirteenth professional fight. He got good work from Denzel Bentley and real resistance for the first time as a professional but he’s not all the way there yet…Montana Love might not have literally thrown Steve Spark out of the ring Saturday, but it was close enough and the disqualification was earned…Seniesa Estrada’s return to the ring was welcome. A unification fight with Yokasta Valle at strawweight or the winner of Kim Clavel-Jessica Nery Plata at Jr. flyweight would be welcome and give her a shot at lineal thrones in either class.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org