By Paul Mason
In a weekend dominated by the big Anthony Joshua v Joseph Parker bill in Cardiff, Surprising and tragic news went mostly under the radar, as Stoke on Trent’s likeable Chris Edwards suddenly passed away at the age of 41. Details at this stage are sketchy, but it is believed that he suffered a fatal heart attack.
On first glance, a record of 17-15-4 with four knockouts, would not suggest that Edwards did much of note during his fourteen and a half year professional career. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. A two time British Champion at Flyweight, two time Commonwealth Champion at the same weight, as well as a reign as British Super Flyweight Champion, means that Edwards will be remembered as a great domestic operator at the lower weights.
“Fenton Flyweight” Edwards turned professional in April 1998, stopping the 0-5 Chris Thomas in front of a handful of spectators in a leisure centre in Ebbw Vale. Six consecutive losses were to follow, to seemingly relegate Edwards to a journeyman for the remainder of his career. Two close points wins in Doncaster and Birmingham got Edwards back on track, but he would then lose two and draw one of his next three fights. Back to back points wins over Neil Reed in Stoke, was then backed up with a six round points loss to the then 1-0 future IBF World Bantamweight Champion in Bristol’s Lee Haskins. A draw with the much-travelled Delroy Spencer in April 2004 (Edwards lost over six to Spencer in February 1999) was backed up with a third win over Neil Reid, this time via second-round knockout, to capture his first Title, the Midlands Area Super Bantamweight Title.
Colin Moffett then outpointed Edwards over four, before Spencer was finally defeated over four rounds by a single point in Stoke. Two straight losses to Gary Ford (PTS6) and Andrea Sarritzu (KO4) in Bergamo, Italy meant further setbacks for Edwards, but he was about to bounce back into an Indian summer in his career.
Gary Sheil and Usman Ahmed were outpointed over six, and Dale Robinson was knocked out in eight rounds to hand Edwards the English Flyweight Title. Edwards was to rematch Robinson in Altrincham, this time for the vacant British and Commonwealth Titles. The fight disappointingly ended in a three-way split draw. Edwards captured the British Title in his very next outing, at Super Flyweight, by beating Doncaster’s current reigning World Champion, Jamie McDonnell via split decision, in December 2007.
He would ship this in his next contest, to Doncaster’s Andy Bell, but then dropped down to his natural weight at Flyweight to pick up the vacant British and Commonwealth crowns, forcing Wayne Bloy to retire with a broken hand after four rounds. He then widely outpointed old foe Usman Ahmed in his first defence of the British Belt.
Shinny Bayaar then relieved him of the Title via split decision in October 2009, but Edwards again bounced back to again pick up the Commonwealth crown, outpointing Abmerk Shindjuu by one point on all three cards in a fight where Edwards threw over 1300 punches during the fight. Sixteen months later, Edwards regained the British Flyweight Title, where he defeated his namesake, the unbeaten Paul Edwards via split decision. He then won the coveted Lonsdale Belt outright by gaining revenge over Shinny Bayaar in Durham via comfortable unanimous decision.
Edwards was close to the end of his career, despite his previous form, and he could only manage a draw over six rounds with the then 1-26-2 Anwar Alfadli in Burslem, a mere six months after the Bayaar success. There would be one more bout for the Potteries man, where, in October 2012, Kevin Satchell ruthlessly stopped Edwards in six rounds and relieved him of his British Title. Edwards was down from body shots in both rounds five and six.
This reverse convinced Edwards to hang up the gloves, and nobody could foresee that little more than over five years after this decision, the obituaries would be written about him. He will be best remembered as a pocket dynamo, that would come forward at every opportunity. He had a massive will to win and massively overachieved to his credit during an up and down career. A host of boxers past and present have paid their respects via social media, and long may this continue.
Edwards lost his father, Ron, when he was still in his teens and he admitted that he was wayward. He also admitted he was “always in and out of prison” – and as it has to so many others in the sport, boxing rescued him.
“Boxing put me on the straight and narrow,” Edwards said once. “I didn’t want to be an idiot who was getting locked up all the time.” Instead, the sport turned him into a multiple Champion.
Rest in peace champ.