Just moments ago we saw IBF Flyweight champion Sunny Edwards (18-0, 4) make his second defenses as he over-came Pakistani fighter Muhammad Waseem (12-2, 8) in a rough, messy, dirty fight in Dubai.
The opening round was a quiet feeling out round, which Edwards did enough to take, though neither man really did a lot of anything. There was a long period of both guys looking to see what the other hand to offer, but neither really stood out as such, with Edwards edging it on the quality of what little work he did do. In rounds 2, thankfully, the action did pick up with both men picking up the pace. This saw Waseem's pressure intensifying whilst Edwards looked to box, move and counter, though again it was somewhat quiet and felt like the bout was going to struggle to come alive.
Thankfully in round 3 the action did pick up as Waseem began to get in to range and back Edwards on to the ropes, where he let shots go in an attempt to break down the champion. Despite being against the ropes Edwards showed silky skills, timing and counter punching as he landed just as much as he was taking as the bout began to come alive. The following few rounds, through the middle of the bout, saw the bout keep the same pattern, with Waseem backing up Edwards, and Edwards boxing on the back foot, landing some amazing counters, but taking body shots on the ropes.
Sadly though, for both, the action was marred by a lot of wrestling, accidental headclashes, holding, and general rough house tactics from both. It was the style of fight that suited Waseem, who didn't have the speed or skills to keep up with Edwards, but it was messy and the referee did little to really tidy things up. In fact the referee seemed to be making things worse, with warnings for minor infractions, and man handling Waseen a number of times whilst working in the clinch.
The referee continued to make a mess of things in rounds 6, when he deducted Waseem a point for holding, something both men were doing repeatedly though the fight, and then doubled his frustration with a second point deduction a round later. By then it seemed the referee wasn't exactly acting an impartial authority on the bout, and certainly seemed harsher on Waseem than Edwards, when both were just as dirty as each other.
Sadly for Waseem the deductions seemed to kill some off some of his fighting spirit, and although he was solid in round 8 he did very, very little afterwards as Edwards began to box, move, using his feet and showing what he can do. Edwards began to make things look easy and started to make Waseem look incredibly slow, clumsy and old as he began to run away with the bout, which had been close through much of bout thanks to Waseem's pressure.
Given how Edwards fought rounds 9, 10 and 11, it was clear the win was his and he seemed to know it as he got on his bike through round 12, essentially doing victory laps as Waseem ineffectively chased him around the ring for the better part of 3 minutes.
After 12 rounds there was no denying Edwards was the rightful winner. His eye catching counter shots made even the good rounds for Waseem close, whilst the early rounds, where he edged them, and the later rounds, where he made things look easy, were undeniable rounds for the champion. And then with the deductions any debate on the winner was moot. Despite that Waseem climbed the turn buckle to celebrate, and we suspect he may have been the only man in the venue, which to be fair was mostly empty, to think he'd won.
The judges had it closer than most, with scores of 115-111, twice, and 116-110. We felt they were closer than they should have been, but can certainly see why the judges had it that close given that many of the middle rounds were hotly contested, and Waseem's pressure in them was certainly successful.
Sadly the real disappointment was the referee, who seemed poor through out, and could have easily taken points from both. It was a dirty fight, but not one where a man had to effectively fight on a tightrope, as Waseem did.
A huge Sunday of fights kicked off earlier today with an IBF Flyweight title fight, that saw Moruti Mthalane (36-2, 24) being crowned as the new champion as he narrowly out-pointed Muhammad Waseem (8-1, 6) in a pulsating and action packed bout.
The contest started well Mthalane who brought the pressure early on and forced Waseem to fight his fight, with the two men trading blows at close range. Waseem tried to keep up with the veteran but Mthalane was finding gaps and landing the cleaner shots through the first 3 rounds as he got off to a perfect start.
Knowing he was behind Waseem changed his game plan, moving more, finding angles and stopping Mthalane from dictating the tempo and distance of the contest. It lead to round 4 being very close before Waseem clearly took the following two rounds, showing his boxing skills as well as his ability to stand and fight. The change in tactics showed that Waseem could make life easy for himself, but by round 7 it seemed like Mthalane was getting a read on the movement of Mthalane and he was starting to counter more and cut the distance, as he had earlier in the bout.
Mthalane would continue to be consistent with his work, there wasn't anything different from him but we was landing consistently, finding a home for his left jab, his left hook and his right hand. Waseem, who seemed to land to the body much more than the South African, wasn't quite getting the snap on his shots to do damage the damage that he was wanting to do.
The two continued to trade a lot of leather through to the championship rounds before we saw Waseem land his best shot, dropping Mthalane in round 11 with a dynamite left hand that dropped the South African. Sadly for Waseem there wasn't enough time left to jump on Mthalane who beat the count.
Having dropped Mthalane in round 11 it seemed like Waseem was going to jump on the South African in the final round.. Instead it seemed that Mthalane was even to it in what was a sensational round of back and forth action, which saw both men looking hurt. Waseem had been hurt in the middle of the round, but came back strong and had a swollen Mthalane badly hurt at the very end of the fight.
Given the close and competitive nature of the fight a decision could have gone either way as we went to the cards. The scores of 114-113, twice, and 116-110 could, conceivably, had gone to either man but unfortunately for Waseem went to Mthalane, who is now a 2-time champion.
For Waseem there will be serious questions asked. Why did he pick up the pace so late? Why did he drop the angles that he used in the middle rounds? Why didn't he pick up the tempo a little earlier? Despite those questions he impressed, he went 12 rounds with one of the most under-rated fighters in the sport and ran Mthalane razor close. There is a real chance that, given a second world title fight, Waseem will come on top with the experience from this loss.
World Title Results
Whether you like them or not World Titles add prestige to any bout as a result we've included the results of world title bouts in this special section.