Rodriguez v Edwards – Football & Racing News – Star Sports

Arizona will play host to the biggest flyweight fight of the year this weekend as undefeated champions Sunny Edwards and Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez finally meet to determine who is the best 112lb fighter on the planet.

Both men are proud owners of world titles and undefeated records and with so much on the line this highly anticipated matchup could be a late fight of the year candidate.

Sunny Edwards is the younger brother of former flyweight champion Charlie Edwards and when he turned professional in the autumn of 2016, he was very much stuck in his elder brothers’ shadow and although he was a very good amateur himself, he wasn’t considered a future world champion by many people outside of his immediate team.

Fast forward eight years and Sunny has not only exceeded his brothers’ achievements, he is now considered the best flyweight in the world and arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in Britain. Holding the IBF flyweight title since 2021, the 27-year-old has defended the strap four times and is now looking for legacy defining fights, starting this weekend in Glendale, Arizona.

With a record of 20-0 (4KO), Edwards isn’t the biggest puncher in the world but he can make opponents look silly with his boxing IQ and despite going the distance in all four of his world title defences, he has barely lost a round in any of them. This fight against Rodriguez is a huge step-up in opposition but Edwards has been so impressive in his time as champion and has earned the right to compete in a fight of this magnitude.

‘Bam’ will be back in his home state this weekend and it’s a location that has played host to three of his four world title fights. The undefeated American is already a two-weight world champion and despite being younger and having less fights on his record than Edwards, he has fought much more credible opposition than his British rival.

In 2022, ‘Bam’ claimed the WBC super-flyweight title by beating Carlos Cuadras and went on to defend the title twice including an impressive knockout of former world champion Sor Rungvisai, a victory that catapulted the career of 23-year-old and established him as one of the most dangerous fighters in the world.

Rodriguez has now moved down to flyweight in search of big fights and he immediately gets that in the shape of Sunny Edwards. The American is always ultra-confident and with eleven knockouts in his eighteen wins, he will know that he brings all the power to the ring on Saturday night.

These two have contrasting boxing styles and contrasting personalities. They have clashed during fight week with Edwards adopting a particularly outspoken attitude and it’s clear that there is no love lost between either the fighters or their respective teams.

Once the opening bell goes this weekend, Jesse Rodriguez will be roared on by his home support but he will need to respect what is in front of him or he may end up falling into the trap of Sunny Edwards. The Brit is a master at playing the role of a matador and with a power puncher in front of him, he will be relishing the prospect of frustrating Rodriguez and banking rounds along the way.
Stylistically, this isn’t a hard fight to assess. Rodriguez will be on the front foot looking to hurt Edwards at every opportunity while the defending IBF champion is happiest when the fight is coming to him. The worry for Team Edwards is that on away soil, he will need to win rounds clearly to persuade the judges and whether he quite has the power to do that remains to be seen.

Rodriguez is the slight favourite at (4/9) but he has a very complex puzzle in front of him here that nobody has been able to work out in a professional ring. This is the first time ‘Bam’ has encountered a personality like Edwards also and it’s been evident during fight week that the British raider has been able to get under his skin and if Rodriguez loses his cool, he will struggle to get to grips with the slick style of the IBF champion.

This is a brilliant fight and both men deserve credit but given what we have seen from Sunny Edwards, he is more than capable of frustrating Rodriguez this weekend and claiming a famous victory on away soil. As a (15/8) underdog, he is too big to ignore this weekend.

JORDAN NEILD

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PROFIT/LOSS (DEC 2023): LOSS -9.02 points

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Author: Eugene Morris