Sunny Edwards called out Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez after retaining his IBF flyweight title for the third time with a unanimous points decision over Felix Alvarado in Sheffield.
Edwards generally had control for most of the fight, although he had to come through some tough rounds after halfway, when Alvarado, the former IBF light-flyweight champion, kept Edwards under steady pressure.
While he lacked the power to really hurt Alvarado, Edwards built up a big lead in the first half of the fight, as he moved well and walked Alvarado into shots before standing and fighting late on.
Two judges, Phil Edwards and Paul Wallace, had it 115-113, which seemed a little close. and Matteo Montella scored it 116-112,
Edwards started well as Alvarado over-stretched as he launched heavy shots from distance, giving Edwards the time and space to pick him off.
It was more of the same in the second, but when Alvarado landed a couple of big rights as he backed Edwards onto the ropes, Edwards finished the round brilliantly, with a big right hook, followed by a flashy left and then a right uppercut.
Edwards invited Alvarado on at the start of the third round, as he backed into a corner and covered up, but few of the Nicaraguan’s punches got threw as Edwards looked for his openings.
By now Edwards was in total control and he comfortably beating Alvarado on the front foot as well as catching and countering.
Things switched in the seventh, as Alvarado landed well to the body and came after Edwards harder, but Edwards re-established some control in the eighth round, although Alvarado’s pace and pressure in the ninth forced Edwards to work hard. There were some excellent exchanges at the end of the tenth round, as Alvarado landed well to body and head, but Edwards replied in kind, loading up on hooks that forced Alvarado to back away.
For the last two rounds, Alvarado chased Edwards around the ring, but Edwards was a step ahead.
“It was nothing less than I expected - that was my homecoming, it just took three defences to get it,” Edwards said.
“Every time I am fighting I am trying to test myself. Felix Alvarado was a phenomenal puncher, so if I could stick and mix it with him, and I showed that I could, I can do it against anyone.
“I want the big fights. Martinez, he’s running scared, Bam Rodriguez, who promised me the fight next, come and get it.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.