Stoke-on-Trent boxer Chris Edwards speaks to StaffsLive about his career, training young fighters at his gym The Fight Factory, and about the offers he’s had to make a return to the ring, including from Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport. Jacob Roberts reports.
The gym sits in the gritty surroundings of an industrial estate in Longton.
This is Stoke-born Chris Edwards’ territory where he now enjoys retirement and trains young fighters.
But even after his long career the temptation to return for one last crack is tempting.
Edwards admits he was a late starter to the sport he now loves and looks back on some of the ups and downs of his time in the ring.
The fighter made the unusual step of moving straight into the professional ranks without any amateur experience, which he says was a steep learning curve.
“I think I lost six of my first nine,” he recalls.
“Obviously I didn’t have the experience turning pro so early and I lost a few because of that.”
With Roberto Duran as his childhood hero, the pressure fighter from Stoke believes he had a style similar to the great Panamanian.
He recalls a trilogy of bouts with Walsall’s Delroy Spencer fondly.
“Yeah he’s a good kid Delroy. He beat me in the first fight in his hometown. You gain a lot of respect for someone when you fight them three times.”
Edwards drew and won the next two fights with Spencer and moved on to decision Jamie McDonnell – a win that looks like one of his best now that McDonnell is close to a shot for the IBF world title.
Edwards holds the record for the most punches thrown in a Sky Sports televised contest, and he spoke proudly about his all action style.
“I could box when I wanted, but you know I liked to come forward and throw punches and give the crowd a show.”
He felt a responsibility to produce good fights, and he seems happy he was able to provide entertainment for so many people.
However, he cites winning the British Title outright as his finest moment in a long career.
Fighters can keep the belt after defending it three times, and he joins a select group who have permanent ownership of the Lonsdale belt.
He became the first man from Stoke-on-Trent to win the British Title in over 100 years.
It’s clear in his eyes this is one of his proudest achievements – to represent his hometown by being crowned the best in Britain.
Edwards reflects on his transition from fighter to trainer, and revealed that even as an active fighter he was always helping out around the gym.
“I only fought about three times a year, and in the time between I was always helping young fighters,” he said.
“So the switch to being a trainer was a natural one.”
The 36-fight veteran decided to hang up his gloves in November last year and concentrate on training fighters at his gym in Longton.
“I’d just got to that stage where I thought is it worth it?
“I was fit and I still felt good, but I decided that the reward wasn’t worth the risk.”
He seems content in his retirement despite having offers to return to prizefighting.
“I had offers from Frank (Maloney), and Eddie Hearn wanted to sign me up, but I was happy with what I’d achieved.”
The sport of boxing has suffered a decline from the golden age of the 1950s, but Edwards still sees the sport as having a bright future.
“You see bad judging decisions sometimes, or fights that don’t come off which the fans would like to see and we lose some fans because of that.
“It’s not like it was in the 90s where you had (Nigel) Benn and (Chris) Eubank on terrestrial television, but I think boxing is still going strong.”
The trainer picked out two of his best prospects from the gym, who he believes have a bright future in the sport.
“Andy Keates is definitely one to watch out for. He’s 8-0 (8 wins 0 losses) and is fighting for a title soon.
“And Josh Mcclaren is a really talented kid who never gets hit, he’s 1-0 at the moment.”