Boxing: Potteries boxer Edwards feeds off Fenton roar to lift Flyweight belt
FENTON braveheart Chris Edwards regained his Commonwealth Flyweight crown after a gutsy performance carried him to victory over Namibian Abmerk Shindjuu in his home town.
The 33-year-old home favourite finished a punishing contest at Fenton Manor bloodied but defiant to claim a unanimous points verdict as each of the three judges scored a gripping fight 115-114 last night.
FIGHT NIGHT: Chris Edwards last night defeated Abmerk Shindjuu to become Commonwealth Flyweight champion. Pictures: Shaun Smith
Edwards had dominated the opening rounds, but was tested in the later stages as the Namibian rallied with a performance which meant none of Edwards's legion of vociferous supporters could be certain of his victory.
Edwards required stitches over his left eye at the end his duel with a little-known opponent who had only 11 previous fights, winning seven, and was competing outside of Africa for the first time.
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But Edwards's 30-fight experience, tenacity and courage gave him the edge to reclaim a belt which was taken off him when he also lost his British title to Shinny Bayaar in a bruising contest in Bolton last October.
Edwards, who improved his record to 14 wins, 14 defeats and 3 draws, said: "I knew this was a close fight, but I am just glad to get my belt back.
"My cornermen had told me to dig deep and win the last couple of rounds and the belt would be mine.
"But he knew it was close as well, which is why we both went all guns blazing in the last round.
"My fitness is good and I didn't want to start slowly and leave it too late. I think that's what got me my title back.
"The crowd was brilliant, they kept me going, especially in the last round when I heard them shouting for me. I didn't want to lose in my home town."
Edwards's determination to come forward provided a clash of styles with Shindjuu's more technical defensive work, but the Namibian was unable to completely escape the barrage of blows as Edwards stormed forward and took the opening three rounds.
However, the Namibian hit back in the fourth, forcing Edwards into the ropes for the first time.
When Edwards tried to regain control, he was caught with a counter hook which bloodied his nose.
Edwards required treatment on swelling under his left eye at the end of the round, but recovered in an evenly-matched fifth.
And Edwards drew on his experience to win the sixth round with a dynamic effort, which included catching his opponent with a leading right.
He continued to come forward relentlessly, so much so that, by the end of the seventh, he had landed 174 punches to his opponent's 96 over the fight.
But Shindjuu came back strongly in the eighth and ninth rounds as he began to take the fight to Edwards.
The home favourite was caught by a stinging left-right combination to the head in the 10th as the balance tipped to Shindjuu.
Sensing his opponent was tiring, the Namibian switched to body shots, which were taking their toll by the end of the round.
The Fenton battler appeared to be surviving on bravery and instinct in the 11th as he refused to buckle, despite being caught by two right hooks and then a punishing right-left counter.
Both fighters knew the 12th was crucial and duly summoned huge efforts to begin at blistering pace.
The crowd got behind Edwards louder than ever, sensing their hero needed them to get over the line against a gutsy and skilled opponent.
Shindjuu caught Edwards with a straight right-left combination, but the Potteries fighter's reserves of energy allowed him to deliver enough shots to feel he had claimed the round.
Both men raised their arms at the final bell, but it was the bloodied Edwards who proudly strapped on the Commonwealth belt, pictured left, in front of his adoring supporters.