Charlie Edwards’ journey to becoming a flyweight world champion has not been straightforward to say the least.
A mother suffering from cancer, his battle against depression and a knockout loss in just his ninth bout, Edwards has had tough battles inside and outside the ring.
The fact his mother nearly died affected Edwards greatly.
Charlie Edwards has faced his battles both inside and outside of the squared circle
Days before the flyweight’s debut in 2015, Terry was diagnosed with breast cancer and later with a brain disease. A cluster of abnormal blood vessels on the brain developed into a tumour.
His mother was in and out of hospital, but the 26-year-old promised her one day he would win a world title. Ten days before he beat Cristofer Rosales in December last year, Terry was rushed to hospital again over fears she had suffered a bleed on the brain.
Ahead of a second world title defence against Mexican mandatory challenger Julio Cesar Martinez this Saturday on the Vasyl Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell undercard at the O2 Arena in London, Edwards reflects on his mother’s battle to live.
‘She’s doing very well, she’s smiling, she’s happy and that’s all we can ask,’ he begins.
‘Her life is never going to be back to where it was before all the drastic operations but at the end of the day, they are the cards we have been dealt and she’s been dealt so all that matters now is to make her smile and make her proud.
Flyweight champion (left) is preparing to take on Julio Cesar Martinez on Saturday night
‘I can’t thank the public enough who go up and say hello to her. It’s crazy, my sister says when they’re walking down the street people recognise her and it’s like “Mummy’s famous now” and the people who go up to her and go “You must be proud of your boys”, that makes her smile.
‘I’m very grateful for everyone who gives her a bit of love and attention because she’s a beautiful woman and she deserves that.’
The strain of juggling hospital visits with training haven’t helped the Sheffield-based fighter’s mental well-being, having previously suffered depression.
In addition, he has suffered abuse on social media.
Edwards, who is 5ft 5in, 8st and has a 15-1 fight record, was looking forward to the fame that comes with being a world champion, until the number of hateful messages online spiralled.
He has, however, developed a powerful weapon against his inner demons – meditation.
‘I do a lot of meditating. When I feel stressed and everything is on my back, I will take a step back, reset my mind and I’ll go into my meditation states,’ he says.
‘When I’m meditating, my mind is at peace and stillness and everything else in the world in reality doesn’t matter.
Edwards’ record is 15-1 and he has had to contend with hateful messages on the internet
‘It has taken me to a new level. It makes you appreciate a lot of things. I’ve worked on my mind for a long period of time now.’
The London-born fighter is not fazed by the challenge he faces on Saturday, despite Martinez being ranked No 1 by the World Boxing Council and knocking out 11 of his 15 opponents, including Welsh boxer Andrew Selby.
‘It’s a very tough fight, he can bang with both hands as seen with his knockout of Selby. It’s his World Cup final,’ he says.
‘It’s very cliche but this is the best I have ever felt going into a fight. On Saturday, I am going to retain my title in a punch perfect performance and I’m going to shine.’
Despite a razor-sharp focus on Martinez, Edwards has one topic that worries him – the use of performance enhancing drugs.
With question marks surrounding current testing procedures, he is highly sceptical.
The most recent controversy involved heavyweight British Dillian Whyte, whose drug test sample allegedly contained adverse findings before his victory over Oscar Rivas in July.
The results of the ‘B’ sample have yet to be publicly announced.
Asked whether he was worried about future opponents doping, he replied: ”One hundred per cent because there’s not enough drug testing to be honest.
Edwards has signed up to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency to show he’s a clean athlete
‘I had one actually two days ago, that’s the first one I have had of this camp and that was by UKAD (United Kingdom Anti-Doping).
‘VADA (Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency) hasn’t sent me a drug test yet which is crazy. I’m on the VADA programme so who says this Mexican I’m fighting has been drug tested once in his whole camp.’
The VADA programme randomly drug test fighters who pay to be signed up. It’s paid for on a fight-by-fight basis and similarly, UKAD randomly drug test UK fighters.
‘It is scary in this game they’re not drug testing that often,’ he continues. ‘I’ve signed up to the VADA programme for a purpose and a reason that I’m a clean athlete and I’ve not been drug tested once yet, it feels bizarre.
‘Why is that? Is it because they’re trying to save money? It goes to show that there could be so many people out there taking them (drugs), it’s bad.
‘It’s a concern, of course it is, especially with everything that’s going on and a lot of fighters failing.’