“The Black Lion” has walked up those steps and met some who’s who of fighters since he turned pro in 2002. Derek Edwards, age 35, has met Anthony Hanshaw, Adonis Stevenson, Matt Korobov, Badou Jack, Andre Dirrell…and he meets another name, a guy whose imprint is growing by the month, 24-year-old Gilberto Ramirez, on Friday.
Edwards, a North Carolinian who spent time in upstate NY growing up, gloves up in Hidalgo, Texas on a Top Rank card, portions of which will run on TruTV (10 PM ET start).
Edwards holds a 27-4-1 mark, and for sure is the ‘dog coming in against the Mexican hitter nicknamed “Zurdo.”
The A side has a slot waiting for him to get the winner of the forthcoming Robert Stieglitz-Arthur Abraham tangle, so Edwards can upset a couple apple carts if he notches his 28th win Friday.
So, on paper, is this his stiffest test, in his mind? “That’s yet to be determined,” Edwards, 5-9 1/2 to Ramirez 6-2, told me. “It’s a fair enough challenge, Ramirez seems to be formidable. But I’d love to show otherwise.”
Edwards started boxing at around age 9; he went with a cousin to a rec center, found hoops wasn’t his thing, and tried his hands at pugilism. He’s been off and on with it ever since. Edwards’ dad wasn’t around growing up, so his grand-dad was instrumental in his life. Eugene Edwards died in 2002, and today, the boxer does his thing while his wife and kids, age 16, 5 and almost 4, root him on.
Edwards lives in Phoenix, Arizona, so the Texas heat won’t be off-putting to him. If you haven’t seen him before, in drawing with Hanshaw, losing to Korobov (TKO9), beating Jack (TKO1) and losing a UD10 to Dirrell, the fighter likes to use his jab a lot, and make em miss, and make em pay. He’s working with trainer Jeff Mayweather for the first time, and likes the pairing, noting that we can expect to see more jabbing, more smart defense, more smart boxing, and not so much a reliance on trying to end things immediately with a power launch. He’s craving a win, and then, being that Jack now holds a 168 belt, would dig a rematch. Also, he says he took Stevenson lightly the first time out, in 2011, when he lost via stoppage in round three, and would like another crack at Adonis. He told me he wasn’t mentally present like he should have been in his last outing, versus Dirrell in December, because promotional issues hung over his head.
He told me that Ramirez looks solid, but doesn’t think the handsome Mexican has been in as tough as he has, so he could have an experience age as a pro. “But I’m not sleeping on him, I’m treating this like a world title fight,” Edwards told me. “I will utilize the jab, make him miss, make him pay, and the key to winning is distance. Also, I have to initiate a body attack. I’d love to make this a really good showing, show what I can do.”