Sunny Edwards vs Moruti Mthalane on April 30, live on BT Sport

SUNNY EDWARDS HAS vowed to make sure 2021 is another big year for the underdogs by following in the 2020 footsteps of Teofimo Lopez, Dillian Whyte and Jeison Rosario by shocking the boxing world when he takes on IBF Flyweight World Champion Moruti Mthalane.

Last year saw the bookies – along with a good few pundits – rocked by a series of high profile fistic upsets, and 2021 has started in a similar fashion with Mauricio Lara and Lennox Clarke recording stunning victories over higher ranked opponents.

Upsetting the odds is what Edwards will need to do if he wants to take possession of the IBF belt held by the battle-hardened champion on April 30, live on BT Sport.

This particular betting underdog is a dedicated lover of our canine friends and will need to summon up the bulldog spirit of his beloved hounds against the 39-2 ruler of the division, with 26 KOs to his name.

Edwards is the proud owner of two American Bullys – Duchess and Kilo – who he insists are not quite as fierce as they look. He knows it is up to him to prove once more that underdogs can snap and bite with the best of the pedigree champions.

“I am pretty happy to be considered the underdog,” confirmed the 25-year-old. “They have been on a great run recently and especially since boxing went behind closed doors.

“It is a trend I am confident of continuing and when I get the belt it will be in safe keeping with Kilo and Duchess protecting the crown jewels! I might have to ask the IBF about sanctioning some world champion dog collars if it all goes my way.

“And I know my dogs look quite mean, but they are big teddy bears!”

Edwards goes into battle admitting that he might be minus the supposed menaces of his four-legged family and will need to assess what he is up against in the opening couple of rounds.

“I think I will have to move around and have a look for the whole 12 rounds, to be honest. You don’t go head on against an immovable object, I’ve got to try and work around it for as long as I can.

“This is definitely a 12-round fight and I have trained for 15. All I know is, I wouldn’t try and beat him in an arm wrestle, so I am not going to try and beat him in a fight!”

Edwards is both familiar and friendly with the 38-year-old, known as ‘Babyface’, since spending time together over in Ukraine at a training camp.

“It is a friendly one since we were together in Ukraine and we have got each other on social media, so it has always been a ‘good luck’ or ‘well done’ before and after fights. He is top of the division, top of the tree and he is where everybody else wants to be.

“He is heavily avoided, we know that. I think he’s had like 10 world title fights and nobody has ever given him a unification shot. He has proved time and time again he will be the away fighter, even as a world champion.

“I think you have to understand the beast I am getting in the ring with, to be honest. I do.

“When I got out of the ring in Ukraine he said I would 100 per cent be a world champion, when I asked him for a picture. Hopefully that 100 per cent will be on April 30 and against him, but he is such a nice man and a great champion.

“I do genuinely feel honoured to be sharing a ring with him, but all the friendliness will fall by the wayside when that first bell goes. I just need to win and having that world title would mean the absolute world to me and it would put me up there with the top British fighters right now.”

Sunny Edwards fights for a world title on April 30th

SUNNY EDWARDS WILL go into battle for the IBF world flyweight title against the formidable and decorated champion Moruti Mthalane on Friday, April 30, live on BT Sport.

In what will be a high stakes card in London, Belfast star Michael Conlan (14-0) provides the chief support as he takes his first fight at Super-Bantamweight against the tough 14-2 Ionut Baluta. The Romanian is seeking to defeat a third consecutive Irish opponent after toppling TJ Doheny and David Oliver Joyce in his last two fights.

For ‘Showtime’ Sunny, 25, it will represent the first crack at world honors in his 16th fight as a professional. The British super flyweight champion has won belts at both fly and superfly, including the IBF International and Intercontinental and the WBO International and European.

Since beating Ryan Farrag in October 2018, Edwards embarked on a run of six fights with titles on the line to cement his place in the world rankings.

Edwards is a confirmed admirer of his forthcoming opponent.

“Moruti is the most criminally underrated fighter, having not lost in 13 years, and he is a proper, proper threat,” he pointed out. “This is no gimme or easy world title for Sunny – it is very, very far from that.

“I asked for this fight and, if you look back at press conferences or interviews, you can see that I have wanted it for some time. In my head, this is what was coming to me, and it is finally here, and I have got what I wanted.

“Now it is my chance to prove myself, and this will be the best benchmark I could have. I have beaten Olympians and people who have mixed at European and world level, but this is real genuine world level. This is my introduction as I have not been there before.

“He is as legit as they come—a big puncher, with 41 fights, 39 wins, and 26 knockouts. If I go and do this, capture the world title in my 16th fight, nobody can really argue. This will qualify everything I have been saying – if I do it. Moruti is no pushover by any stretch of the imagination; he is a very, very, very good fighter.”

Mthalane, 38, is indeed recognized as one the greatest of all current champions, having won his first world title in November 2009 with victory over Julio Cesar Miranda for the vacant IBF flyweight title, which he followed up with successful defenses over countryman Zolani Tete and current WBO world bantamweight champion John Riel Casimero.

After two further defenses, the South African won the IBO flyweight title with a 2014 victory over Jetha Oliva and subsequently made three victorious defenses of the belt.

He reclaimed his IBF title in July 2017 with a defeat of Muhammad Waseem and has since defeated Masahiro Sakamoto (TKO 10), Masayuki Kuroda (UD), and Akira Yaegashi (TKO 9).

“There can be no doubting that Sunny is up against a top-drawer world champion,” said promoter Frank Warren. “Mthalane possesses the incredible experience and has beaten the leading guys around his weight, but I hope the timing is right for a changing of the guard at the top of the division.

“Sunny has demonstrated his readiness for taking on and, I hope, joining the elite, and from his early days performing on our shows, I believed we had a special talent on our hands.

“It was up to us to recognize this by delivering the world title shot he craves, and that is what we are doing. It will be a special night having Sunny fighting for a world title against a great champion.”

Edwards’ title tilt against Mthalane will represent the first fight of a new long-term promotional agreement with Frank Warren and Queensberry Promotions.

“I am made up, I am absolutely made up,” reacted Edwards. “I have made it no secret that I wanted to be with Frank, and I see my future with Frank. I am glad that, after months of back and forth, we have agreed, and we are both in a position where I am sure we are happy.

“Frank has given me the platform and helped me build my name so that anyone who tunes into BT Sport even semi-regularly will have probably seen one of my fights. Over the last year or two, I have been on often, and maybe BT lets me get away with being a little bit more cheeky than anyone else would!

“I like it, I like the relationship we have, and I am looking to increase that going forward. I am a loyal person and, unless I am mistreated, I will never up-stick and leave on a whim. I have been with my trainer for seven years, my management team from the beginning, and, ideally, I would like to be with the same promoter for my whole career.

“The fights and the opportunity I have had shows that my promoter and my network are happy with me, so I can’t be any happier with that and the position Frank has allowed me to put myself in. Without Frank, BT, and my management platform, it would have been hard for me to do so.

“I am grateful and delighted to have another long-term deal with Frank – my third one already, and I am only 25! I genuinely mean this; I hope this is a relationship that lasts throughout my career.”

Frank Warren added: “I have never hidden my liking and admiration for Sunny, and I am thrilled he is signed up with us for the long term. He is proving himself a major attraction on BT Sport, not just with his undoubted boxing ability, but also his personality that shines through how he goes about his work.

“Sunny is a character, no doubt about that, which is something the sport always needs, and I shouldn’t think he ever finds himself lost for words. The thing with Sunny is he can back up what he says with huge natural talent that I am sure will excel on the world title stage.

“Operating at the highest level is the next step for Sunny, and I am thrilled to deliver his world title shot on April 30. It is what he wants and what we want for him, so all our efforts have gone into securing him his shot at the earliest opportunity, and I cannot wait to see it happen and see another world champion added to our roll of honor.”