Edwards ready for Rodriguez after healing family rift

Sunny Edwards has revealed that reuniting with his brother Charlie has contributed to him achieving his finest ever condition ahead of Saturday’s IBF and WBO flyweight title fight with Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez.

The date at the Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona is widely regarded as the toughest of both fighters’ careers, but the 27-year-old Edwards – the IBF champion – of all the fighters on Saturday’s promotion has perhaps cut the most confident figure of all.

His older brother Charlie, 30 and the former WBC champion, has often been by his side after a period in which there was so much tension between them that a fight between them was spoken of as a possibility. 

Charlie Edwards hopes to revive his career in the coming year under his new trainer Stephen Smith, having split from Joe Gallagher, and after he joined Sunny in his training camp under Grant Smith and sparred him in preparation for Rodriguez, 23, the younger of the Edwards brothers told ProBox TV: “My brother always sets a very, very, very high professional standard, and it’s nice to have that around. When your big brother’s in camp, and your big brother’s around, it makes me want to sharpen myself up a little bit more. It makes me want to be that little bit better with my food; a bit more professional. 

“It’s paid off. I feel like I’m in the best position I’ve ever been in when it comes to weight, mind, mentality, shape. I have been religiously preparing for this fight.

“It’s good to have my brother back in camp. There was a few years where our boxing careers went away a little bit from each other. I really didn’t like his trainer and manager at the time – I thought he was completely steered wrong; I don’t want to put words in his mouth but I’m pretty sure he’d agree with me – but it’s good to have him back round. It’s good to have him back sparring, because he’s always given me some of the best rounds. He knows me, which is the most important thing. 

“It takes years to start picking up on the things that I do naturally. I set constant little traps, and constant little movements, that over 36 minutes – especially if your mind’s battling with the ‘Oh, I’m losing this fight’ – it becomes a mountain that you can’t even start beginning to climb. It’s like quicksand – the more you’re doing the quicker you’re sinking. 

“At the time, when I fell out with my brother, I wanted to show the world that there wasn’t even a second Edwards brother. That was the mentality. I’ve always learned [from], and I’ve always looked at my brother and I’ve always put him on a pedestal, especially early on in my life and in my boxing career, ‘cause he always done so well. 

“I want him to come and jump over me again. I would love that, in the next year or two – to come and do something that completely dwarves what I’m doing, then I’ll come and do it again. That’s what we’ve always been like. Two very successful, very competitive, child athletes that have been pushed at each other constantly.”

Sunny Edwards’ reign as champion started when he convincingly outpointed Moruti Mthalane in April 2021.

“My brother knows me very well,” he continued. “A lot of time he spent in our life being a big brother and when I was getting success, getting more frustrated and maybe ‘Why is my little brother doing this to me?’. But now I’m the world champ – I’ve shown that I’m a fantastic fighter. I’ve proven it time and time and time again. Now it’s a little bit different – he’s trying to get the success. It’s probably me now thinking, ‘Fucking hell, my brother’s hitting me’. 

“It’s very good to have him in camp. I’ll do anything for him, for his career – not just him as a person, I’m very proud of my last name. I want my kids to be proud of our last name; I want his kids to be proud of our last name. I’ll do anything for him – put him in the positions, push him forward, bring him into camp, and do whatever I can to help his career.

“There’s been times that I’ve had no one to direct any negative emotion to and it was my brother at one time. I was trying to prove that I’m better than him. I’m just about to get in for my biggest world title fight and I had his belt and his pictures up in the gym – that was my motivation at that point. I like there being obstacles. I like there being something. Being the underdog for this fight does that for me.”