Although Dalton Smith has his own significant fight coming up, against Sam Maxwell in Sheffield on July 1, the unbeaten super-lightweight contender is equally excited about another upcoming contest.
Shortly after it was announced that his Steel City Gym stablemate Sunny Edwards had landed the fight he had craved, against Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez, Smith said he was delighted his friend and the IBF flyweight champion had the chance to test himself against one of the best fighters in the world.
No date or venue has been announced for Edwards-Rodriguez but Matchroom, who promote by Smith and Edwards, said contracts are signed and the fight is on.
“I think it’s a great fight,” Smith said. “For me, Sunny beats them all, and that’s not just me being biased because he’s from the same gym. I think Bam’s one of the hardest out of the lot, just because he’s young, he’s fresh… But it’s the movement and the footwork… Sometimes Bam likes to plant his feet to get there and it’s the same as anyone who fights Sunny, until you’re in the ring with him, they don’t realise how awkward he is and the angles he comes from and how well he can dictate a pace in a fight.”
Edwards has been calling for the fight on social media for months. Of course, there is no point asking his teammate for a prediction, but Smith admits he is excited for it.
“It's going to be a great fight,” the 14-0 contender added. “I’m glad for Sunny that he’s actually got the big fight, he’s been chasing him for a long time.”
Is Sunny as confident as he makes out, behind closed doors when it’s just them in the gym?
“As confident as he is on the internet, that’s how he is in real life,” Dalton adds. “But he’s not deluded. I put it out there, Sunny’s one of the most talented fighters I’ve seen. Skill-wise, and you knew in the amateurs, you could see it then, he’s just a very talented fighter and he’s very special. You get those fighters.”
Edwards said before his most recent victory, against Andres Campos earlier this month, that he wanted to fight Rodriguez sooner rather than later, and Smith understands why. Neither, Smith thinks, have hit their primes.
“The way you’ve got to see it is, look at when Floyd Mayweather boxed Canelo Alvarez,” Smith explained. “You knew he was getting him at the right time. But, Sunny’s not even in his prime yet. Sunny’s only 27 and I believe he’s not reached his prime yet either. These big fights are what will get Sunny up to those next levels.”
And it’s those next levels Smith wants to hit in good time. He’s not rushing. He knows he must beat Maxwell and move on from there, but seeing someone from his gym signing on the dotted line for a fight that’s got the boxing world talking gives him the confidence that he’s not too far from doing the same.
“Exactly,” he smiled. “I’m sat here thinking now, I could be 18 months away from fighting for world honours and it’s crazy. It’s crazy how fast time goes and you’ve got to make sure you’re doing everything right and not cutting any corners.
“It [the life of a fighter] is tough, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I’m not in camp and not in my routine, I think most fighters say they go a little bit insane, because the routine keeps you structured. So when I’m in camp, I’m waking up at the right time, taking my vitamins, sleeping good, and that’s what keeps us mentally sane. Of course it’s not easy. Nothing at a high level is easy, it’s the one per cent who reach the top, but I’ve done it all my life and I don’t know anything different and I wouldn’t change it.”