Sunny Edwards defends IBF world flyweight title with slick points win over Jayson Mama

“You may have dynamite in both hands, but I’ve got the wind in my heels” were the words of ‘Showtime’ Sunny Edwards on Twitter when promoting his title defense against Jayson ‘Smasher’ Mama in Dubai.

Those words proved an accurate prophecy of what was to come, with the movement and skills of Edwards proving too much for the powerful Mama as the Englishman boxed his way to a stylish victory at the Coca-Cola Arena.

IN THE RED CORNER – SUNNY EDWARDS

This was the first world title defense for Edwards (16-0, 4KO) who had won the IBF strap against tough South African veteran Moruti Mthalane back in April. Edwards entered the Mthalane fight as an underdog and scored a unanimous decision win to snap a 16-fight winning streak for the defending champion.

Edwards entered this bout ranked #3 on the Ring Magazine flyweight list and would set the table for possible unification bouts if he could come away victorious. This would be only the second fight away from his home nation for the defending champion, with the other coming when he outpointed Sergey Tasimov on debut in Spain back in 2016.

IN THE BLUE CORNER – JAYSON MAMA

Challenger Mama entered this bout with an identical 16-0 record to Edwards but had proven himself to be more heavy handed by registering nine knockouts. Mama had produced stoppage victories in his last two fights, knocking out Reymark Taday before forcing Romshane Sarguilla to retire on his stool after round eight.

IT’S SHOWTIME

Challenger Mama started the fight on the front foot, stepping forward with jabs while Edwards moved side to side and measured his opponent. Edwards began to close the space and throw right hands while the fast-handed Mama showed himself to be a threat on the counter.

The champion began to find a home for some heavy punches while Mama responded by stepping into a clinch and attempting to rough up Edwards against the ropes.

In the final minute of the opening round, Edwards landed a powerful right handed shot and smiled at Mama before receiving a scoring punch before the bell rang on a close first round. Mama appeared to have the higher output of punches in round one, while Edwards landed the heavier and more telling blows.

Edwards came out aggressively in round two, backing Mama onto the ropes and forcing the Filipino fighter to hold on. Edwards landed a heavy right hand and Mama responded with a one-two combination before the pair were tied up again and referee Mario Gonzalez stepped in to separate.

The champion continued to step forward in attack but was knocked off balance by Mama and the pair soon ended up in a clinch again with Edwards complaining to referee Gonzalez about punches to the back of the head.

In another close quarters tussle, the head of Mama made contact with Edwards and opened up a sizable cut on the champion’s forehead. A strong overhand right landed from Edwards to sting the challenger, but Mama will have had his spirits lifted by the sight of blood streaming down the face of Edwards from the cut.

With the fight becoming scrappy in the opening rounds, an angered Edwards threw a punch to the back of Mama’s head during yet another separation from Gonzalez before closing the second round with another heavy right hand over the guard of Mama.

Round three began with a clinch and both men were allowed to throw punches by Gonzalez before Edwards grabbed Mama in a headlock and the challenger threw a punch on the break to draw a warning from referee Gonzalez.

The pair were separated from a clinch time and again as the round progressed with the corner of Edwards audibly complaining about punches to the back of the head. Mama did find the target with two legitimate right hands and landed a left to the body with Edwards against the ropes.

Blood was again beginning to flow from the cut of Edwards with the unphased champion closing the round strongly with a barrage of powerful hooks.

The fight followed a familiar pattern in round four with Edwards picking accurate shots while moving laterally as Mama closed the distance and attempted to rough up the champion in close. A fleet footed Edwards skipped in and out of range after landing punches and circled the ring left and right while firing out jabs.

Mama continued to come forward and walked onto a heavy right hand as Edwards kept up a high work rate before being caught with two stiff counter punches. The challenger relentlessly stepped forward but failed to cut off the ring to halt the perpetual motion of the champion. The round ended with the pair dropping their guard and posturing towards each other before returning to their corners.

Edwards was now expecting the bullrush of Mama and opened round five by landing a right hand before locking the challenger’s lowered head under his armpit in the clinch. Mama responded well by landing blows and stalking forward, backing the champion onto the ropes twice and throwing body shots. Edwards responded with a stiff right hand and later a double left hook to halt the momentum of Mama.

Defending champion Edwards was clinical in the opening minute of round six, finding the target with almost every blow before Mama landed a strong right hand in response. Edwards circled the ring brightly, landing jabs and then backing out of range to the vociferous approval of his corner.

Mama continued to attack in straight lines but his volume of punches appeared to be dropping as he failed to keep pace with the champion. Edwards put an exclamation point on an impressive round by landing a heavy right hand in the closing stages.

The challenger was the early aggressor in round seven, closing in to land heavy handed shots while Edwards continued to move left and right and consistently connected with his jab.

When Mama did manage to back Edwards into the corner, the Englishman held on and forced a separation from referee Gonzalez. After banking what was likely another 10-9 round, a confident Edwards had words for Mama before returning to his corner.

The contrast of styles continued in round eight, with Edwards landing shots at will while Mama stepped forward and threw powerful blows. With a minute remaining in the round, Mama cornered Edwards only for the defending champion to skip away to the right and score with a jab.

Edwards landed another jab before vanishing out of range in matadorial style, leaving Mama to punch air in response. Heavy punches were exchanged in the closing seconds of the round before a mutual display of respect as the bell rang.

Likely knowing his man was falling behind on the scorecards, Mama’s trainer slapped his fighter in the face between rounds and animatedly gave instructions, while in the other corner Edwards stood calmly as his team continued to effectively stem the bleeding from the cut suffered back in round two.

Mama split the guard of Edwards with a stiff jab to open round nine before a pair of clinches prevented the challenger from gaining any real momentum. Edwards moved around with his back to the ropes, connecting with jabs before Mama closed in to attack and the champion locked Mama’s lowered head under his arm once more to stifle the attack. Mama threw a punch during the break which drew another complaint from Edwards to referee Gonzalez.

The lead hand of Edwards continued to loop over the guard of Mama and land with scoring blows before a one-two combination saw a powerful right hand connect flush on the jaw of the challenger.

The front foot strategy of Mama continued but the challenger was failing to cut the ring off after closing in and the circling Edwards continued to jab and accumulate points. Edwards scored the first knockdown of the fight when he landed a one-two combination before stepping to the right and felling Mama with a right handed punch.

The fallen challenger complained to the referee, claiming the punch was to the back of the head to no avail and received an eight count before continuing.

“Over his lead” was the repeated instruction from the corner of Edwards, encouraging the champion to snap jabs over the low guard of Mama as his lead on the scorecards continued to grow. A confident Edwards high fived his corner man as he returned after round 10, knowing that Mama was now left in need of a knockout to take the title.

Mama knocked Edwards off balance in the opening stages of round 11, before the champion responded with a one-two combination and resumed his winning formula of bouncing around the outside of the ring on his toes and zinging Mama with jabs. Edwards landed a flurry of punches and continued to move in and out of range before ending another good round with a looping overhand right.

The two fighters embraced before the final round and Mama stepped forward in attack knowing he needed to come up with a knockout to claim victory. The busy jab of Edwards kept the challenger at bay before Mama landed a strong right hand to the body against the ropes, only for the evasive Edwards to skip out of harm’s way once more.

The aggressive Mama was throwing caution to the wind as the round progressed, paying the price when Edwards released an offensive flurry as the fight entered the final minute.

Edwards dropped his guard and used quick head movement to evade the blows of Mama before shelling up on the ropes and absorbing the challenger’s final punches as the bell rang on an impressive display.

WHAT THEY SAID

After the fight, Edwards acknowledged the troubles caused by the significant cut in round two before praising his opponent. “In the second round my right eye was completely covered in blood at one point, but I’m a warrior and came through it,” said the victorious champion. “Mama is a great fighter and a great contender, and I’m sure his time will come in the future.”

WHAT NEXT FOR THE WINNER

Edwards spoke into the camera as he was having his hands untaped in the ring post-fight, leaving no doubt as to who he wants next. “Martinez, I want you. London, Mexico or Dubai it don’t matter,” said Edwards in a direct challenge to WBC world title holder Julio Cesar Martinez.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE LOSER

Perhaps Edwards is correct and Mama’s time will come in terms of winning a world championship, but for now the Filipino will have to settle for trying to break into the top 10 of the division. McWilliams Arroyo, Jackson Chauke or Ryota Yamauchi would all provide Mama with an opportunity to gain the biggest win of his career if the fights could be made.

Author’s Scorecard (round by round)

Edw-Mam

Rd1: 10-9

Rd2: 20-18

Rd3: 29-28

Rd4: 39-37

Rd5: 48-47

Rd6: 58-56

Rd7: 68-65

Rd8: 78-74

Rd9: 88-83

Rd10: 98-91

Rd11: 108-100

Final: 118-109