Sunny Edwards will be introducing himself to many viewers with this, his DAZN debut. He’s been a world champion, and an excellent fighter, for some time now, but having been involved in the MTK and Probellum mess, his more recent fights may have not been as visible to fans as he might feel he deserves. So this is, in some ways, something of a coming-out-party, in which British super-promoter Eddie Hearn takes the first steps to promote his new charge to the world.
The fight will, of course, be available on DAZN, with the card starting at 2pm ET.
The Preview: How did we get here?
Andres Campos may not be the opponent he signed to DAZN to get, and he’s taking a huge step up in competition. Nonetheless, he’s an undefeated fighter in his own right, one who’s been calling Edwards out for some time. He’s looking to take a huge opportunity in this IBF title fight. Let’s take a look at how it breaks down.
While Edwards (19-0-0, 4 KOs) might not have had the exposure he will have wanted over the last couple of years, it’s fair to say he hasn’t sat idle (which isn’t true of all fighters caught up in Probellum’s fall). He won his IBF flyweight title in early 2021, against the long-reigning South African champion Moruti Mthalane. There were, then, some questions about how much Mthalane, at 38, had fallen off his best- but it was nonetheless an impressive, dominant performance against a man who hadn’t lost in over a decade.
Since then, he’s defended his belt three times – most recently against the IBF’s former junior-flyweight champion, Felix Alvarado. In that fight, he took the sting out of the ludicrously aggressive Nicaraguan, letting him unload with frequency yet being hit hardly at all.
He has, in other words, taken what challenges he can, when he can, and this move to DAZN is in large part about getting his fellow 112lb champions in the ring more easily. This promotional debut had, in fact, been intended as a unification against rising superstar Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez, but injury in his last fight gave Campos his chance.
For Campos (15-0-0, 4 KOs), as mentioned, this is a vast step up in competition. He’s not yet fought anyone remotely close to the world stage. Almost all of his fights have been at home in Chile, with only a couple of ventures out to Argentina and Australia, both against journeymen. He’s also never fought a 12 rounder. He is, in other words, out of his depth on paper. But he has managed to find himself with a pretty high IBF ranking, and parlayed that into this title shot. So let’s see what he’s got.
The Breakdown: How do Sunny Edwards and Andres Campos match up?
For those unfamiliar with Edwards’ style, introducing him as a defensive, footwork-focused fighter might worry you. It shouldn’t. Although definitely an outboxer for preference, he was busier with his punches than most even when he was only doing that. And in his last few fights, he’s shown an increasing tendency to let the fight go inside, and showcase his defensive moves in the pocket instead. Large parts of the Alvarado fight were spent on the ropes with Alvarado unloading, and although some rounds went to the Nicaraguan on sheer volume, for the most part Edwards got enough of his own licks in to win those exchanges too. He is, in other words, defensively skilled, but active.
Let’s start with the work at distance, though. Edwards is an incessant and unpredictable mover, both in-and-out and circling his opponent on the outside. He’s a confident stance-switcher, and he’s excellent at varying both the timing and the exact direction of his movements, making it very difficult for any opponent to make reads and pin him down. That unpredictable timing also helps his offensive work, since he rarely throws on the same beat twice in a row, even if he’s throwing similar punches.
Those punches come in pretty solid volume, too. His jab comes almost invariably in doubles or triples, and is usually followed up. He doesn’t usually throw extended combinations, the way some fighters at those lower weights like to do, but he does pepper his opponents constantly. He’s also very fond of using his stance-switching to set things up – shifting as he turns and cracking his opponent with a lead hand that had previously been the back hand.
He’s cleaning up his form, too. He’s never going to be a textbook fighter, but in his early career, he had a tendency to take shortcuts, moving from one stance to another by the quickest route rather than the safest. That sometimes left him off-balance, and with his chin exposed, if his opponent moved quicker than he anticipated. Nowadays, most of the time, he’s much more consistent at keeping his chin tucked and staying in stance to slip punches if his opponent keeps up with his turns.
That last is probably also part of his evolution into a confident pocket boxer. He could rely on mostly just drawing back as a defence when outboxing was what he was doing, but now that he likes to come in close, he’s had to adapt for that, and become more about blocking and slipping. He’s learning to do both things well, with Alvarado – a very solid inside fighter- often finding nothing but gloves,elbows and air even when unloading 10+ punch combinations.
His feel for timing, too, is in evidence there. He was often able to punch in between Alvarado’s punches, finding the gaps when the challenger was defenceless as he was still pulling back his own blow. He has an excellent variety of punches too, adding to his unpredictability, and plays with angles and position changes just as much in close as on the outside.
One interesting thing to note is that, for someone so focused on moving, he does prefer to fade to the ropes when he wants to fight in close. It can look like he’s being forced there- and it’s probably fair to say that sometimes he is. But for the most part, he’ll drop back seemingly on purpose, and almost never engage in a pocket exchange in open space. When that does threaten to happen, he’d rather clinch up fully and make the referee break them.
That seems counter-intuitive- after all, a fighter like that would want space behind him, surely. However, it does fit in with a major feature of Edwards’ game- a deliberate choice that has its positives and negatives, but may be the defining aspect of him as a fighter. That is, Sunny Edwards almost never fully sets his feet to throw- he’s always committed to movement over power. The fractional moments he’d need to fully commit and then recover are more risk than he’s usually willing to take, so he stays on his toes.
With that in mind, the decision to drop to the ropes makes more sense. If you want to exchange in the pocket in space, you more-or-less have to set your feet, otherwise you’re too easy to shove out of position and take advantage of. It gives a fighter more security, but does mean his options for disengaging are limited.
By dropping to the ropes, Edwards lets them take the weight, has his opponent pushing against them as much as him. While there’s no space directly behind him, it does mean he can keep himself ready to step in either direction should he want- and ready to spin out if he feels the need. You’ll notice him doing that if he does find himself in the corners.
It’s an approach that does have its risks- it does mean he’s relying on always being able to fool his opponent about where he wants to move, so no intercepting shots come that way. Campos is unlikely to be the guy to find that timing, but it’s worth looking out for.
The other obvious disadvantage is… well, power. 4 knockouts in 16 fights isn’t that unusual a ratio at the lighter weights, but it’s clear watching him that Edwards’ punches don’t really pause or affect his opponents’ movement at all, even when they’ve taken them flush. That hasn’t caused him a problem yet, because his style isn’t one where he needs that momentary pause in movement. But it does mean that if an opponent is found who can close range faster than he can escape it, he’ll have to rely on other means or change his style up to deal with the problem.
Will Andre Campos be that opponent? Probably not. As mentioned, he’s taken a huge step up in class here, and although he looks competent, there’s little in his performances so far to suggest he’s got the tools to get to Sunny. He is the kind of pressure fighter that might conceivably be able to push through and claim position at close range, but he gives up his advantages in key moments.
For one, he tends to step in heavily with his jab. That means it’s a bit more powerful and may help him land it, but it also means he’s set in his position after he throws it. Against someone like Edwards, that’ll likely see his opponent simply stepping around him consistently whenever he comes in with that punch.
And, relatedly, when he throws overhand punches and hooks to the head, he has a tendency to overbalance- and despite being a pressure fighter he probably doesn’t throw in enough volume to get a points advantage over his outboxing opponent. That too will leave him adjusting while Edwards steps around and peppers him while he’s out of stance.
He does look to have a clean, compact defence though, combining a nice guard with head movement as he comes in. He also, when he hasn’t overbalanced coming in, has a nicely set stance when in close, enabling him to push opponents around when needed. That might be his best shot here- take Edwards into those inside exchanges, then use his opponents’ stance leaning against the ropes to bully into his space, shove him off-balance a bit and work the body. It’s a long shot that he can do that consistently enough to make a difference, but it’s an opening for him.
All in all, though, you’d expect a wide decision victory for Edwards, with Ocampos game but rather out of his depth.
What’s on the undercard?
The undercard isn’t starry at all, but there are two women’s world title fights, with Cherneka Johnson defending her IBF super-bantam crown against Ellie Scotney, who has been getting a bit of promotion recently. The other is a WBA bantamweight bout, with the 40-year-old Nina Hughes defending her belt against the much younger Katie Healey. Beyond that, limited-but-exciting heavyweight Johnny Fisher features in what should be an exhibition but you never know, and cruiserweight Cheavon Clarke, who being 5-0 at 32 needs to move his career fast, takes on David Jamieson in a contest he’ll be expecting to win but should test him.
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