Prove it: Charlie Edwards interview
Ahead of his latest bout on Saturday night, super flyweight Charlie Edwards tells Shaun Brown he is targeting a showdown with WBA champion Kal Yafai...
Charlie Edwards wants to be pushed, challenged and ultimately back at world title level.
The 24-year-old super flyweight (11-1, 4 KOs) has packed a lot in during his three years as a professional since signing with Matchroom in 2014. His debut took place at the O2 Arena in London - where he returns this Saturday night in an eight-round contest - and in between fighting frequently at some of the largest indoor venues in the U.K. he also became British champion in his 11th fight, which came two fights after challenging John Riel Casimero for his IBF flyweight title in just his ninth fight.
"I'm lucky that I've been able to go on the big stages and have them fights, and have a promoter who believes in me and a great management team behind me," Edwards told Boxing Monthly ahead of his first fight of 2018 this weekend.
"Although fighting for a world title in my eighth fight didn't work out for me, the experience I gained was massive. I think it has also done me a bit worse for wear because it shows the level I can perform at, and even when the going gets tough I'm still there and I'm not just going to lay down. I think that has made it harder for me going forward in getting these fights."
Saturday's opponent, still to be announced, is a warm-up for a 2018 that Edwards hopes will consist of more fighting and less talking about what he's going to do
2017 saw Edwards join forces with trainer Adam Booth and land the British flyweight title comfortably in April beating Iain Butcher in Glasgow. It was without doubt a proud moment for Edwards, but as he admitted to BM the decision to vacate the belt without defending it hasn't exactly worked out the way he hoped it would.
"We vacated the British to move on to bigger fights, not stay at British level and it has backfired a little bit," he admitted.
"It's hard to get the people that want to come and fight. They're probably asking for a lot more money now. It kinda backfired, the plan. We just have to keep pushing forward because one of these big fights will come off. With MTK [Global] [who he signed a management deal with in 2015] they've got great connections in America, Japan and all around the world."
The world for the former Team GB boxer might very well be on his doorstep. Along with Edwards, Matchroom have another super flyweight in their ranks. This one, however, is the current WBA champion at 115lbs and Kal Yafai has been strategically targeted by Edwards and his team.
Eddie Hearn promotes both fighters and, according to Edwards, has been trying to make the fight. Yafai, though, doesn't appear to be entertaining it. And during this interview Edwards had plenty to say about his 28-year-old stable mate.
"I'm chasing Yafai. I want that fight bad. He's kind of like running out of options, so I don't see where else he can turn to," Edwards said.
"Kal Yafai hasn't fought now for a while, since October, and he's said he wants to go to America and fight out there. He's had three opportunities to go out there, but he's turned them down asking for too much money, I think he's priced himself out. I don't know where else he can go.
"He's running out of options and I don't think the British public will want to see him fight an Eastern European or Japanese fighter again, who no-one knows or cares about. I don't see why he won't give me the shot.
"He's so confident in beating me and it would make his profile so much bigger in the U.K., because in the U.K. he's not really talked about and he hasn't really got a fan-base. He don't sell enough tickets in Birmingham [his home town] so the fight would have to be on one of the big pay-per-view undercards. I hope he will fight me and give me the opportunity."
Edwards is crying out for a fight that he can sink his teeth into, and one that can showcase what he and trainer Booth have been working on over the last 12 months. Not to mention the benefits of having sparred the likes of IBF and WBA bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, who is also under Booth's wing.
"I have come on ten-fold in the gym," said Edwards reflecting on a productive year out of the ring.
"I've been sparring the likes of Ryan Burnett and all the fighters around me, and it's brought me on. I think I'm more of a seasoned pro now and I'm thinking a lot more; being a lot more cute with my work and working on my legs. Not just working on what I'm good at, but working on what I'm not so good at and I have really developed as an all-round fighter."
It is that work and development that has led Edwards and Booth to the conclusion that the skills of the man inside the ring and the one in the corner would be too much for Yafai should this all-British world title fight materialise.
"He [Yafai] knows I'm all wrong for him and he knows I'm going to give him a nightmare of a night's work," Edwards stated.
"He probably knows I'll beat him. I'm younger, fresher, I've got a high work-rate.
"Me fighting Casimero is a harder fight than he's had ever in his career! I showed how I stood there and carried on fighting all the way through, and Casimero is a massive banger. It shows I'm there and at that level.
"I'm more of a risk to him than anything. Although the reward is he'd probably get paid more money to fight me on home soil, and defend it, than bring over [Roman] Gonzalez where he'd probably get paid less because Gonzalez will want the most money to come over.
"He's got to sum it up. He's asking for more money and he thinks there's more money in America, when he can probably earn that money fighting me.
"He already done an interview where he said he would batter me, two weeks before his last defence [against Sho Ishida]. If he really thinks that why don't he get in the ring and prove it?"