'All the time in the world': Rhys Edwards interview
Photo: Sash Wiener of Sashshots
Rhys Edwards is looking to move a step nearer to a British title fight this weekend. The 19-year-old Welsh prospect spoke to BM's Shaun Brown...
Rhys Edwards (9-0, 4 KOs) is working hard on removing some learner plates from his life.
The 19-year-old, trained in Cardiff by former world middleweight title challenger Gary Lockett and promoted by Mo Prior, had unfortunately failed his driver theory test a couple of weeks before Boxing Monthly had spoken to the featherweight/super featherweight who says when the time comes to challenge for major titles it will in fact be down at super bantamweight.
Edwards, part of a loving family featuring ten siblings full and half (“I sell ten tickets before I leave the house!”), failed his theory by three marks and now needs to go back to revising before sitting another test and hopefully the practical which will give him the opportunity to drive the 18 miles from home in Penygraig to the Welsh capital.
Off the road and inside a boxing ring, however, Edwards has yet to be tested, as you might expect given his age. Nevertheless, the signs are full of promise leading his trainer to talk of a potential British title opportunity in 18 months.
“I’m hoping to really, really impress,” Edwards says of his tenth outing this Saturday against Johnny Phillips at York Hall, “and have a Welsh title shot at the end of the year. I think that would be ideal but Gary is thinking bigger and better.”
The fighter-trainer relationship of Edwards and Lockett began with the then 15-year-old Edwards training at the gym while on the Welsh amateur circuit. His first spar was a memorable one and a steep learning curve.
“First day, I sparred Jay Harris,” Edwards recalled.
“Funnily enough I spar him now. Jay’s awesome so he filled me in back then!” he laughed. “It was a good spar and I could tell Gary was impressed. I went back and forth to the gym. Gary and I had a good relationship before I turned pro. I was back and forth [to the gym] for years doing pads, sparring, just back and forward.
"Then I was on the Welsh Amateur Team training down there Monday to Thursday and they gave us a contract to sign. I took it home, looked at the contract and I thought I wouldn’t wipe my a--e with this, it’s terrible. Sign my life away basically so my father and I went to Gary’s for advice.
“Gary said how about turning pro and my father said ‘To be honest Gary he’s way too young’. No man strength and to be honest wasn’t grown up enough mentally so my father didn’t want it. They [Gary and Mo] proposed the idea to me and I thought yeah definitely and Gary said come down mine Thursday and we’ll have a meeting with Mo Prior who you can turn pro with. We had a bit of food with them two and my father and just went from there really.”
No regrets from that day forward Edwards insists. The people he trains with and the boxing education he receives is part of an enjoyable sporting life for the teenager recently named the British Boxing Board of Control’s Prospect of the Year, but to cap it all off, and most importantly to him, he is happy.
‘Awesome’, is a popular word in the Edwards vocabulary and it was how he described his 2019 that saw him have seven fights in ten months.
“It felt great because some people are out two times a year. I can’t imagine what that would be like for me now. Obviously at some stage I will be like that but as it goes, seven fights last year, and it felt so awesome to be so active.”
Such a busy period would perhaps require some much needed time away from the gym. An opportunity to rest and recuperate but 2019 was a year that developed his mental attributes as well as his boxing ones.
“In between fights now I think I should be back in the gym within four or five days, not going so heavy and just living the life. If I’d had just three or four fights, I’d be having two weeks off and if Gary said you’ve got a fight in three weeks I’d think oh s—t: I’ve got to do this, I’m unfit. Whereas now I know, straight back and ticking over, no excuses, just straight back on it.”
Christmas, however, was the full stop in 2019 for Edwards allowing him to indulge, particularly in some Galaxy Caramels snatched out of a tub of Celebrations.
At just thirteen years old Edwards was thrust into an open workout during Nathan Cleverly’s preparations for his light heavyweight world title fight against Sergey Kovalev. Six years later he’s had nine fights, grown up mentally, plays the guitar and piano and listens to the likes of Sam Cooke and Chuck Berry. Not your typical teenager from year one to year six.
The name, the fighter, the story is one to follow but Edwards isn’t interested in making headlines or lighting up the column inches just yet, thanks largely to the advice, for his next fight, from Lockett that is as memorable as the tunes his prospect listens to.
“Gary says don’t try and be a hero. He always says it’s about looking composed, neat and looking like you’ve got all the time in the world.”
‘Time enough for life to unfold,’ as Louis Armstrong once sang.
Follow Rhys on Twitter @Rhysedwards2000