By Ben Churchard
Asylum scribe Ben meets a young fighter determined to make it to the top
Like 2 Box gym is the new home of young and talented prospect Charlie Edwards. Charlie is a skilled and well-schooled fighter bred from the gritty hard knock life of amateur boxing, now making his way in the glamorous but somewhat ruthless world of professional game. Recently making a big career move to sign with the coveted trainer, Adam Booth – a man who has etched his name into the boxing records with great British fighters of all weights including: David Haye, George Groves and, more recently, the likes of Ryan Burnett and Andy Lee. It has to be noted that there are not currently many more talented stables than that of the current Booth regime. Upon walking into the gym, Booth has Charlie on the pads working meticulously to get a combination of movement and striking, whilst Ryan Burnett works alongside with another trainer on pads and Andy Lee is going through the motions on the heavy bag. Success breeds success and you really get the feeling that right now in the Booth camp, that’s exactly what’s on the horizon for what is a mixture of experienced world level fighters along with young and hungry prospects.
“Hungry” is a word that sums Charlie up to a tee and a word he uses a lot. Here is a fighter that knows where he comes from and appreciates the opportunity that he has been given through boxing but wants more than to just rest on his laurels. When discussing this new approach through Adam, Charlie touches on how quickly the two have gelled: “It’s going really well, we’re gelling great, his style suits mine down to the ground. There’s a few things he’s really changing about me and I think you’ll see a different me over the coming months”.
Adam’s a great trainer and I respect everything he says
You really get the sense that Edwards has found a home with Booth, albeit early days, there’s a connection forming between the two: “You really have that bond with Adam, he really looks after you. He gives you 100 per cent but equally he expects 100 per cent. He’s your coach in the gym and your mate outside the gym and it’s kind of like that father son relationship”.
Charlie has grown throughout his career with his dad by his side and therefore you feel to have that relationship with his trainer can be nothing but positive moving forward with his career. Edwards also touches up on what a great tactician Booth is and how he is looking forward to seeing the positives effects that he has on his style of fighting: “I wish I could fast forward and see the difference that his one to one training will have on my work in the ring, I’m already seeing massive changes already. Adam’s a real perfectionist,” he said.
Adam Booth clearly reciprocates the respect and prospect of their partnership: “He’s got a great attitude, I think he’s got huge potential, he’s a smart fighter and he’s very determined. These are great ingredients for a coach to work with”.
Experience is key in the game known as the sweet science and the crop currently training alongside Edwards are as good as they come. With the WBO middleweight champion, a stable mate of Charlie’s for some time under the MGM (soon to be MTK Global) banner, Billy Joe Saunders training closely alongside, Edwards admits his admiration for Saunders’ style of fighting: “Billy Joe has got a lovely style that I’ve always liked, I’ve been around him a lot out in Marbella and we’ve always got on really well”.
Another fighter that is in a similar position to Edwards is the heavily-touted Ryan Burnett. A young man from Belfast who has done just about everything in the amateurs and is set to be the poster boy of Irish boxing with the likes of Frampton and the Conlan brothers.
“Ryan Burnett is a top fighter who’s knocking on world title doors,” Charlie says, with a wry smile, before adding, “We fought in the amateurs and he beat me. I just remember him being one of the hardest punchers I’d faced. It’ll be interesting sparring him again”.
Edwards was a high quality amateur boxer
With the camp around him, Edwards clearly understands the importance of sparring and mentions the trio of himself, Burnett and Lucian Reid, another young prospect (5-0), and how well they all bounce off each other.
Edwards had a lucrative amateur career, where he spent the best part of six years working with Great Britain’s most successful boxing team, training alongside what are now household names such as Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell. “I loved my amateur career, it was great. I met a lot of great people and worked with a lot of good coaches. I travelled all over the world and won titles from schoolboy all the way up to the European Championships,” says Charlie.
Unrivalled experience had at amateur level no doubt, the young flyweight makes it clear that he is now looking forward to the pro game: “The pros are for me, I’ve always felt that I am a better fighter over rounds and that my style suits the pro game”.
A young man who clearly lives the life and is incredibly fit and athletic, I agree that it benefits Charlie to go rounds. His relentless style of fighting lends itself to breaking down opponents over time, rather than a one-punch knockout artist. A relative novice in the game he has already gone past 10 rounds on three separate occasions and therefore shows a promising tank at an early age.
Eddie Hearn has really got behind Charlie Edwards from the start of his career and he seems to be somewhat of the Matchroom sweetheart, being placed on some huge cards. The O2 Arena staged his debut against Craig Derbyshire in front of 20,000 on the Mitchell vs. Estrada card. Since then he has continued to be thrown into the deep end on high-octane nights of British boxing.
“I’ve been spoilt really. Golovkin Brook, Crolla Perez (1 and 2) and Frampton Quigg, so some really big events. It’s just been great to get around the country and showcase my skills”.
It’s clear being associated with the highest grossing and most popular promotional company has its perks and Charlie seems very positive about working with Eddie Hearn and the rest of the Matchroom team: “Eddie is really behind me, as is Barry, and has been from day one and it’s been great to have that support”.
Charlie goes onto to express that Hearn invests a lot of time in his fighters: “On my comeback fight after Casimero, Eddie put me on at 4:00pm to settle my nerves and take me away from the spotlight, but he was still there watching on at ringside”.
Hearn has been touting his young prospect since signing him and does hold him in high regard, saying back in 2015: “The sky’s the limit for this kid, he’s got talent in bundles”.
Too much: Experienced Casimero was a step too far at this stage of Edwards’ career
Fighters are often mollycoddled at the beginning of their professional careers, with their records padded to gain momentum, sometimes without substance. Edwards however showed his courage when taking a huge world title clash against two-weight world champion, John Riel Casimero on the 10th September 2016. A fight in which he would put up a brave performance but ultimately fall short.
The fight would take place on the biggest night of the British boxing calendar in 2016, Golovkin vs. Brook, on Sky Sports Box Office.
“The fight made sense. It made sense career wise and money wise. The exposure I got for taking a world title fight in my ninth fight was huge. Imagine I’d won that. You have to dare to be great,” laments Charlie.
It’s very refreshing to see a fighter take a fight of that magnitude so early and really grab the bull by the horns and have that attitude to “dare to be great”. Fighting on such a huge platform in the early stages of your career is incredibly valuable for the mental side of boxing; a trait that many say is more than half the battle.
“Even now, the best moment of my career so far is walking out on the main stage of a Sky Sports Box Office bill. It was an unbelievable experience.”
It was clear that experience played a massive part in the fight and it seemed that Charlie just lacked the boxing nous to adapt to the constant pressure of the heavy hitting Philippine: “He could really bang. From the very first round his clipped me round the back of the head and it was if he had two horse shoes in his gloves.”
After a difficult start to the fight, Edwards had some success in the middle rounds and began to show that he could mix it up at world level: “I felt that I was finding my way back into the fight and started to feel comfortable and got too confident. I threw a reaching left hook and was caught with a peach of a left hand.”
The shot was a devastating left hook that knocked Edwards off of his feet and was the final nail in a coffin that Casimero had been building over 10 rounds. To Edwards’ credit, he showed experience enough to take a knee and wait until eight before making his way to his feet: “I can’t even remember the shot, I remember being completely dazed on the floor. As I went to get up, I could see no one else but my brother, Sonny. He gestured to me to take a knee and wait till eight. I still don’t know how I made it up.”
The writing was on the wall and Charlie made it up on shaky legs only for the ref to stop the fight in the 10th round. In an age where the “0” in boxing seems to be paramount it is often said that you learn more from your losses than you do your wins and you really get the sense that Charlie knows this, adding, “It’s a learning curve and I will take a lot from the fight moving forward. After I’d lost the fight I wanted to hide away, I couldn’t look people in the eye when they mentioned the fight. After a while I dusted myself down and realised what I had achieved competing in a world title fight”.
Boxing runs in the family for Edwards
It seems the talent for boxing runs in the family with Charlie’s younger brother, Sunny, now also making his way through the pro ranks at bantamweight. The two brothers, who are both managed by MTK Global, are clearly close and have a vested interest in each others careers: “Sunny’s doing really well, he’s up in Sheffield now training with his old amateur coach Grant Smith at the Steel City Gym and he’s waiting to release some big news on his promotion moving forward.”
Both 2015 and 2016 have proved to be whirlwind years for this down-to-earth young lad from Croydon and he’s fully aware how far he’s come: “When you think two years ago I was losing at the Commonwealth games as an amateur and since then I haven’t looked back, I’ve pushed on and I understand that you only get one shot at this”.
2017 proves to be another huge year for Charlie Edwards who is looking to potentially capture a European title and is also eyeing up a tasty domestic clash with the skilful Andrew Selby, younger brother of current IBF featherweight Champion, Lee.
“I want to fight Andrew. I know it’s a fight the British public want to see and it’s a fight I’m really confident that I can win, I know I’ve got the tools to beat him,” he affirms.
The classic saying goes, ‘styles make fights’ and it’s hard to see this fight being anything other than a classic with two young prospects, both with slick styles, clashing under the lights in a mouth-watering battle. The European route is another option for Edwards who also has the potential to move up to super-flyweight to hone his skills: “We are keeping an eye on the European title and there is that option, or I can move up to super-flyweight and compete for the British title so we’ve got plenty of inroads.”
There’s clearly real excitement in the Edwards camp and he’s got huge ambition to put his foot on the gas, but admits he must take a step back: “It’s time for me to let my promotional team guide my career, I’ve previously been so desperate to do everything at 100 mph, but with their guidance and with Adam behind me I really think they can take me all the way to world title honours”.
Edwards, who is still only 23, has got a long career ahead of him. An experienced head on a young body, he’s proving to be a bright spark on the British boxing scene. He has an infectious attitude and his willingness to learn and hunger to move forward is refreshing to see.
A world title does not seem too distant for this young lad, daring to be great
Follow Ben on Twitter @bchurchard93