BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Boxing quite often dabbles in the unexpected, but I can’t imagine Saturday night’s scenario at Greenwich’s 02 Arena has happened before.
Croydon’s WBC world flyweight champion Charlie Edwards was counted out in the third round and Julio Martinez had his hand raised in victory by referee Mark Lyson.
But this is where things strayed away from the norm.
The aggressive little Mexican’s only mistake came with a heavy price.
TV screens above the ring showed that Martinez had landed a full-blooded left to the ribcage of Edwards while he was down on one knee – leaving the South Londoner writhing on the canvas as the count reached 10.
Initially the crowd had been happy to applaud the challenger. But the replays saw the mood darken.
Promoter Eddie Hearn prowled the ring like a promoter scorned.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, in the capital for the main event which saw Ukrainian genius Vasyl Lomachenko add their famous green belt to his lightweight collection to get the full set, decided to intervene.
It’s often said that governing bodies do as they please, and there seemed to be no process followed as Sulaiman declared it a no-contest and that a rematch will take place.
Where that leaves Edwards remains to be seen.
He had been fighting back the tears 10 minutes before Sulaiman’s intervention – telling broadcasters Sky Sports that he had been “killing himself” to make flyweight.
Now he has his title back – which secures much better paydays. But based on the way Edwards wilted under the spiteful legal blows from Martinez, who has stopped his last eight opponents, it is hard to make a case for a successful outcome if the duo meet again.
When asked if he would be ready for a rematch, Edwards said: “I don’t know what my team around me want or what they are going to advise. My job is to box – I’m a fighter. I would’ve got into that fight later on. I’ve got to give props to him – he was a very tough man – but the gameplan was to take him late.
“He did hurt me, that’s why I took a knee – to get myself back together. That shot on the floor, I’ve never been hit like that before.
“It was definitely deliberate. He loaded up and threw it. I was on the floor and had relaxed.
“I’ve got to really thank the WBC and Mauricio for abiding by their rules of boxing. I would have taken the eight count, recovered and pushed on. I always start my fights slowly.
“I’m still world champion but it’s not the finish I wanted. The main thing is I’m fit, healthy, safe and can go back home to my family.”
Croydon’s Joshua Buatsi defended his WBA international light-heavyweight title with a seventh-round stoppage of Canadian Ryan Ford. The loser was dropped to the canvas and complained of a low blow but referee Bob Ford counted him out.
Buatsi is 12-0 in the pro ranks and has 10 stoppages – the last time he had to go the distance was in early 2018.
PICTURES BY MARK ROBINSON/MATCHROOM BOXING