Two Cleveland boxers stole the show Friday night in the final ShoBox: The New Generation telecast of 2017 live on SHOWTIME.
Once-beaten southpaw Yuandale Evans (20-1, 14 KOs) had Cleveland’s fight fans on their feet for the final two dramatic rounds as the East Cleveland boxer earned an exciting, all-action split decision victory over previously undefeated featherweight Luis Rosa (23-1, 11 KOs) in the 10-round main event.
Two judges scored the fight in favor of Evans – 96-94 and 97-93 – while the third judge had Rosa winning, 96-94, on Friday night at The Masonic at Templelive Cleveland.
It was a night that saw three previously undefeated fighters lose their unbeaten records. Rosa became the 171st fighter to lose his undefeated record in the 16-year history of ShoBox.
In the telecast’s first fight, heralded Cleveland boxer and 2016 U.S. Olympian Charles Conwell made his television debut and improved to 6-0. But it was the Evans-Rosa fight that fans won’t soon forget.
“What a way to end a great year of boxing on SHOWTIME,” said ShoBox analyst Steve Farhood. “Rosa vs. Evans was one of the best main events we have had in the 16 years of the ShoBox series.
These were two fighters that understood what was at stake. They both did what they came here to do. At the end, it was all up to the judges. I thought they got it right. It was a split decision. Great action fight between two very well-conditioned fighters.”
The Evans-Rosa war included 611 total connected punches and 512 landed power shots were exchanged. There were multiples shifts of momentum throughout the fight as Rosa commanded the early rounds with volume and power while Evans rallied in the middle rounds.
“I’m tired but I’m feeling great,” Evans said. “My performance was great. I’ve never felt myself pushed that hard. He’s a tough Puerto Rican. He’s a very tough fighter. The crowd really propelled me to victory tonight, and I’m grateful for that.”
Rosa led 268-267 in total connected punches entering the final round, but Evans summoned a huge rally in the 10th (49 of 103 to 27 of 88 for Rosa) to seize a 316-295 overall lead to earn the split-decision victory.
“I thought I won the fight, he won maybe three or four rounds,” a disappointed Rosa said after the fight. “I won the fight 6-4, 7-3 at least. I won mostly all of the beginning rounds and I gave him a few after the first six. Four rounds is the most I give him, and that’s being nice. I feel like the judges were swayed by the hometown crowd.”
Evans is ready for his next challenge. “I want Gary Russell, I want [Carl] Frampton, I want [Leo] Santa Cruz,” said Evans, who had famed trained Barry Hunter in his corner. “I’m nothing but a contract killer. I’m a contract killer and I want one of those top five guys.”
In the co-main event, undefeated Russian standout Radzhab Butaev (8-0, 6 KOs; WSB: 9-1) earned a hard-fought unanimous decision over Colombia’s previously unbeaten Janer Gonzalez (18-1-1, 15 KOs) in an eight-round welterweight matchup. The three judges scored the fight, 80-72, 79-73, 77-75, in favor of Butaev.
It was a technically sound fight between two accomplished former amateur standouts. Butaev, who dominated from the early rounds, connected on 41 percent of his power punches (66 of 162) compared to 27 percent for Gonzalez (47 or 173).
“I felt like I controlled the whole fight, but he was more durable than I expected,” said Butaev through a translator. “Gonzalez landed good shots but he couldn’t finish me.”
Farhood said Butaev failed to make some key adjustments during the fight. “[Butaev] didn’t have his trainer here,” he said. “Perhaps that is why he failed to make adjustments. He still has a promising future, but this was not his best performance.”
Gonzalez was coached in his corner by noted trainer Ruben Guerrero. “I injured my shoulder in the third round but I stayed in the fight and pushed the fight,” said Gonzalez, “When I injured my shoulder, I couldn’t throw my left jab as well, I couldn’t work the jab. If I hadn’t been injured, I would’ve broken him down more in the later rounds.”
In the second fight of the four-fight telecast, a matchup of undefeated heavyweights, 28-year-old Junior Fa (13-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Pittsburgh’s Freddy Latham (9-1-2, 5 KOs), handing him the first defeat of his pro career just 67 seconds into the fight. It was the 169th time a fighter has lost his undefeated record on the ShoBox series.
New Zealand’s Fa sent the former Golden Gloves champion Latham back-pedaling from the opening bell with a barrage of punches as referee Clifford Pinkney jumped in between the fighters. Latham, who had never been stopped, struggled to keep standing as he leaned against the ropes. Click HERE to watch video of the stoppage.
“I was actually going to keep on going, continue fighting but then he dropped. He was out of it. The ref pulled me back,” said Fa, who earned a first-round knockout for the sixth time of his career.
Fa landed 59 percent of his power shots (17 of 29) while Latham managed to land just one of four power punches.
Farhood was impressed by Fa’s dominating performance. “Every time a heavyweight shows power, you have to pay attention,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll see more of him in 2018.”
“I’m hoping for a chance to get in to the top 15,” said Fa, who beat WBO Heavyweight Champion Joseph Parker twice in the amateurs. “This fight gave me more confidence in my ability and power, and I think confidence is a great thing.”
In the telecast opener, 2016 U.S. Olympian and local favorite Charles Conwell (6-0, 5 KOs) –buoyed by a huge third round where he scored two knockdowns and another in the fifth – went the six-round distance for the first time in his young career finishing off a game Roque “Rocky” Zapata (4-2-3) with an impressive unanimous decision victory scored 60-51 twice and 60-53.
The super welterweight contest was dominated by Cleveland’s 20-year old Conwell, who used effective body shots to do the most of the damage as he accounted for 80 of his 175 total connects and 75 of his 150 power punches.
Conwell caught the former MMA fighter Zapata in the third round with a strong right cross. It was the first time Zapata, who came into the fight with a three-bout winning streak, had ever hit the floor in his career. Click HERE to watch video of KOs in round 3.
“My game plan was to throw some jabs and go to the body, and I think I accomplished that. My jab was key tonight. I ended up dropping him three times,” said Conwell, who averaged 77 punches per round, but gave himself just a B-minus. “I would love to keep fighting on television. I want to showcase my skills.”
A left hook by Conwell in the latter stages of the third round dropped Zapata for the second time. Zapata hit the canvas once again in the fifth after a devastating left hook to the body followed by a left hook to the chin. The Culpepper, Va. native stood up at the nine-count and finished the stanza.
Zapata was impressed by his opponent’s talent. “I survived, so I’m happy,” he said. “I went the distance with an Olympian and that was the plan. I should’ve done better and cut my angles more instead of standing right in front of him, but I’m proud I went the full distance.”
Friday’s quadrupleheader will replay on Monday, Nov. 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME and will be available on SHOWTIME on DEMAND® and SHOWTIME ANYTIME®.
The fights were promoted by DiBella Entertainment.
Barry Tompkins called the ShoBox action from ringside with Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer was Gordon Hall with Rich Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.