Sunny Edwards and Regis Prograis deliver statement victories in Dubai

British fighter claims points win over Waseem to retain IBF flyweight title, while American defeats McKenna to earn shot at WBC super-lightweight belt

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Sunny Edwards turned his attention to unifying the flyweight division after the British fighter retained his IBF world title with a comfortable points win over Muhammad Waseem in Dubai on Saturday night, while American Regis Prograis earned a shot at the WBC's super-lightweight world title.

Edwards defeated Pakistan’s Waseem after 12 rounds with scores of 115-111, 116-110 and 115-110 from the ringside judges. In the preceding fight at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Prograis beat Tyrone McKenna in their title eliminator after the fight was stopped in the sixth round due to a nasty cut above the Irishman's eye.

Waseem, who was bidding to become his country’s first ever world champion, tried to make the fight a war of attrition but he was deducted points in rounds six and seven.

Edwards described his opponent as “world class” but felt he was a clear winner and after the victory, repeated his desire to face Mexico's WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez next in the biggest fight that can be made in the 115lbs division.

“Muhammad is a world class operator and he and his team came with a good game plan,” said Edwards, who extended his unbeaten professional record to 18 fights. “There was a lot on the line tonight but I didn’t want to just run, run, run, I wanted to mix it up and I felt I won comfortably in the end.

“I now want the Ring Magazine belt and the WBC title, and I know Martinez wants the fight so let’s make it happen. It will be huge.”

Waseem, who’s record now reads 12-2, accepted that Edwards deserved to keep his IBF belt but he was unhappy with the referee for taking points off him.

“Congratulations to Sunny tonight, he was the better man,” said Waseem. “I felt it was very unfair of the referee to take points off me, I don’t know why he did it – this is a fight.”

Prograis will have the chance to become a two-time world champion after coming through a WBC world title eliminator against McKenna.

The American, whose only professional loss came against Josh Taylor in a unified championship bout in October 2019, floored his Irish opponent in the second round and was ahead on the scorecards by the time the bout was stopped in the sixth with blood pouring from above the eye of McKenna.

“He’s a tough man, I knew he was going to be tough and when I knocked him down, I knew he was going to get up,” Prograis, now 27-1, said. “But I stayed calm. He kept pushing forward and so I had to change my game plan and box more. I’ve been world champion before and I will be world champion again.”

A valiant McKenna, despite his pre-fight claims, admitted Prograis carried serious power.

“He’s world class, he’s heavy handed and he’s probably the hardest puncher I’ve ever been in with. He’s got massive power,” he said.

Probellum President Richard Schaefer was at ringside in Dubai and said: “That was an unbelievable show from Regis Prograis. In my opinion he is a top 10 pound for pound fighter, he is one of the best fighters in the world. And Tyrone McKenna has to be one of the toughest fighters I have ever seen.”

Prograis put McKenna on his back at the start of round two with booming overhand left but the Irishman, who says he loves going to war in the ring, was smiling at his rival as he lay on the canvas.

Blood started to run from the side of McKenna’s head as former world champion Prograis took a firm hold of the final eliminator at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

The ringside doctor inspected McKenna at the end of the session and allowed him to continue and the ‘Mighty Celt’ whipped up his fans at ringside by attempting to mount a fightback.

Prograis remained in command but McKenna refused to be beaten and enjoyed success in the fifth round as the American’s pace dropped.

However, a nasty cut above McKenna’s right eye opened up and forced the referee to call on the doctor to take a look. After an inspection, it was ruled that the brave McKenna was in no condition to continue and Prograis had his arm raised.

Prograis then proceeded to call out Jack Catterall, who was ringside for the event. Catterall earlier this month fought Taylor for the undisputed super-lightweight world titles and lost a controversial split decision.

"I wanna get Jack Catterall in the ring, he called me out last night," Prograis said during his post-fight interview. "He's right there [ringside], Jack said he wanted to fight me so I wanna get him in the ring."

Updated: March 20, 2022, 6:27 AM