CLEVELAND, OH — After more than a three-year hiatus, boxing returned to Cleveland, OH with a stirring ShoBox card. The main event featured Cleveland’s own Yuandale Evans (20-1, 14 KO’s) squeaking out a close split decision against Luis Rosa (23-1, 11 KO’s) in a rousing 126-pound fight. Two judges had Evans ahead by margins of 96-94 and 96-93 respectively while the third had Rosa in front 96-94 in what was a close tightly contested affair throughout the evening.
Seconds into fight, the slugfest was on with the two exchanging against the ropes as the crowd cheered wildly. The first round was a shootout with little separating the two and that set the tone for the fight.
A pattern started to form in round two with Rosa pressuring Evans while Evans made Rosa pay a price to get inside. Evans would land flashy hard punches while Rosa pressed forward with the crowd cheering frantically whenever Evans connected. However, once inside Rosa would move his hands and land crisp clean effective punches on Evans.
This pattern continued through the middle rounds of the contest with many razor thin rounds in which an argument could be made for either combatant. The action was fierce and competitive.
The best action of this action-packed fight took place in round eight. About a minute into the round, Rosa hurt Evans with an overhand right. Rosa pressed his advantage going for the knockout and though he landed some solid punches was unable to get rid of Evans. Eventually, Evans got his legs back and hurt Rosa with a counter right late in the round. Rosa had enough guile to survive that moment and make it to the end of the round.
The last two rounds were nip and tuck with both men laying all on the line to get the win. Rosa’s pressure and volume were countered by Evans harder punches. Again, tough rounds to score and when the final bell sounded it was anyone’s guess as to who would get his hand raised.
Neither man truly lost but in the end it was Evans who had his hand raised with the split decision nod. With the 126-pound class stacked, each will probably receive plenty of opportunities based off their respective performances this evening.
In a fight that featured two welterweights with a high knockout percentage, Radzhab Butaev (8-0, 6 KO’s) scored an eight round unanimous decision against Janer Gonzalez (19-1-1, 15 KO’s) in a tactical affair. Gonzalez did very little in the first four rounds and was outworked by Butaev. However in the fifth, a counter left hook from Gonzalez stunned Butaev and seemed to inspire Gonzalez to start moving his hands. Gonzalez enjoyed a good sixth too as momentum seemed to be turning. But Butaev righted the ship the last two rounds and Gonzalez stopped throwing again to take all doubt out of the decision.
Junior Fa (13-0, 8 KO’s) stopped Fred Latham (9-1-2, 5 KO’s) in the first round of their scheduled eight round heavyweight contest. Fa, who holds a pair of wins against Joseph Parker in the amateur ranks, hurt Latham with a left hook that backed Latham to the ropes and eventually against the turnbuckle. Fa then battered a helpless and cornered Latham, forcing the referee to intervene. The fight was over in 67 seconds.
Junior middleweight prospect and 2016 US Olympian Charles Conwell (6-0, 5 KO’s) scored a six round unanimous decision win against Roque Zapata (4-2-3) in the televised opener. Conwell scored two knockdowns in the third and one in the fifth on route to winning a lopsided decision.
Veteran middleweight Willie Nelson (26-3-1, 16 KO’s) made his first ring appearance in over a year and scored a first round TKO against journeyman Alexis Hloros (18-7-2, 12 KO’s). Nelson scored three knockdowns in the process of easily dispatching his overmatched opponent.
Super middleweight prospect Isaiah Steen (10-0, 8 KO’s) scored a third round TKO win against tough veteran Eduardo Flores (26-28-3, 15 KO’s). After dominating the first two rounds, Steen scored a knockdown in round three with a barrage of body punches. Though Flores would make it to his feet, the referee wisely called a halt to the contest.
Fred Wilson Jr. (6-0, 2 KO’s) narrowly escaped with a split decision win against Cory Dulaney (5-6, 1 KO) in a four round junior middleweight tilt. After seemingly being in total control of the contest entering round four, Wilson was surprisingly dropped by a flush right hook from Dulaney early in that round while against the ropes. Cleary hurt, Wilson managed to survive the remainder of the round and had built just enough of a lead to keep his undefeated record intact.
Alante Green (2-0-1, 2 KO’s) stopped Antwaun Taylor (4-6, 1 KO) in the first round of their heavyweight contest. Green came out swinging and put Taylor down twice before the referee waived off the contest.
In the opening bout of the evening, Boubacar Sylla (8-0, 7 KO’s) scored a TKO win against Marlon Brown (7-1, 2 KO’s). Sylla dominated the contest from the opening bell, scoring a knockdown in round one and opening a cut over the right eye of Brown in round three. The corner of Brown stopped the one sided bout following round four.
Photo credit: Stephanie Trapp / SHOWTIME
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