Rising undefeated Super Welterweight contender Charles Conwell broke down Madiyar Ashkeyev over nine physical rounds of action; ninth round stoppage delivers win No. 14
LOS ANGELES (December 17, 2020) — After three shows, Ring City USA’s 2020 run concluded with a battle of unbeaten Super Welterweights in 23-year old 2016 U.S. Olympian Charles Conwell and Madiyar Ashkeyev.
Conwell (14-0, 11 KOs), a first-time father to his 6-month old daughter, came into the fight looking to cap off a successful year. Despite the ongoing COVID-19, and Conwell not being exclusively tied to any network, the bout versus Ashkeyev presented him with chance to go 3-0.
Ashkeyev (14-1, 7 KOs) fought four times last year, but had been inactive since November 2019. At 32-years old, a defeat over Conwell could land him a meaningful bout in 2021 – in one of boxing’s hottest divisions the past few years.
Conwell’s mix of smart pressure and constant body work from behind an air-tight guard gradually shifted control of the fight in his favor. Ashkeyev’s offense faltered early, as he had to spend a great deal of time wrestling to get space from which to punch comfortably. Round after round, this seemed to sap his energy. Conversely, Conwell’s confidence in his game plan increased and began to move into other phases of execution.
By the time the fight reached the mid-rounds the Cleveland native’s corner began to demand that he capitalize on the openings trainer Otha Jones II had begun to see. The action was mostly one-way by the seventh, Conwell pressed the issue in the eighth and he outworked Ashkeyev in the ninth.
In contrast, the Kazakh’s corner had started advising their charge that they’d seen enough punishment, and they couldn’t allow Ashkeyev to continue much longer. He responded but after another round of cleaner punches from the young Olympian, once Ashkeyev returned to his corner he couldn’t find any support for his request to fight the 10th round. Once veteran referee Jack Reiss joined Ashkeyev’s corner, the final decision was made to end the fight.
With the official announcement, the technical knockout improved Conwell’s perfect record to 14-0. The performance likely sets Conwell up for a step up fight in the first half of 2021, and his promotional flexibility keeps his options open. To this point, Conwell has collected impressive wins on nearly all of the major platforms, and his fighting style and reputation bode well for him as he moves forward.
Conwell remained calm as the fight’s tension appeared to ramp up, and in spots he exchanged shorts laughs with fellow Cleveland native and two-time Welterweight champion Shawn Porter.
“I felt good tonight,” Conwell said. “I’m getting more and more comfortable in the ring and more comfortable with the experience I continue to get.”
“I think I’m the only undefeated contender fighting,” Conwell continued. “And I think that means a lot – I’m making great progress and I’m ready for a bigger payday. The more I fight, the better I get. I’m only 23-years-old and I want to keep fighting.”
Conwell walked towards Ashkeyev throughout most of the first round. He let his hands go sparingly, but gave Ashkeyev a number of upper body feints. Conwell’s guard was tight and compact as he bobbed and weaved his way inside. He jabbed and ripped some shots inside. When Ashkeyev was cornered he stepped forward and shoved the 2016 U.S. Olympian away for space.
The physicality increased in the second stanza. Full-on wrestling ensued in spots. After the round’s midpoint, both fighters ripped shots to the body. Conwell worked his way inside, slipped off to the side for angles, but was unable to land effective punches in the short opening. Ashkeyev regrouped and wisely moved out of range.
Both fighters battled for position inside immediately in Round 3. The action was physical without being illegal. Conwell landed a right hand before final minute that got Ashkeyev’s attention. The two closed out the round toe-to-toe and head-to-head, banging away at each other’s temple-high guard.
Ashkeyev’s back was on the ropes moment after the start of Round 4. He punched his way out, and the two relocated to the interior of the ring briefly. Ashkeyev scored with a short combination going into the final minute – the two stood center-ring. The Kazakh found some space in which to work over the end of the round.
The two exchanged body shots, again center-ring, to start the fifth round. Ashkeyev found a bit of momentum. The two stood and through punches from mid-range. The action moved back towards the ropes and Conwell attacked Ashkeyev’s body. Ashkeyev landed with a solid flurry with about 30 seconds to go. They traded punches until the bell rang. Ashkeyev’s confidence appeared to be return.
The bout moved to its second half. Both men worked from mid-range again. Conwell accepted working with more space, and he started mixing in feints. Ashkeyev landed a right cross.
A Conwell left hook inside snapped Ashkeyev’s head before the end of the round. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time left for Conwell to follow-up. Earlier in the round Ashkeyev’s fight appeared to wane, following several rounds of wrestling with the 23-year old 2016 Olympian, who he appeared to be the stronger of the two. Conwell landed a crushing right hook to the body early in the round.
Conwell started walking Ashkeyev down in Round 8. After getting into range he repeatedly threw power punches. Ashkeyev finished the round with blood streaming from his nose. Conwell flashed some beautiful defensive moves inside, slipping and knocking down shots as the Kazakh attempted to flurry.
Ashkeyev’s focus returned early in the ninth round. His corner had informed him that they’d stop the fight if he continued to take punishment. Conwell worked his jab and looked for openings. Conwell landed another vicious shot before the close of the round.
Prior to the 10th round Ashkeyev’s corner followed up with its decision to stop the fight. Referee Jack Reiss joined the discussion, advising that continuing on was futile, as Ashkeyev had likely not won a round. Ashkeyev argued to be allowed to continue, the corner advised against it, and then Reiss returned with a more assertive message. He reiterated that it was senseless to continue, and then he advised the team that he was calling the fight.
Jelena Mrdjenovich vs Paola Torres
Defending WBA Featherweight champion Jelena Mrjdenvoich and Paola Torres went toe-to-toe for 10 grueling rounds – the title defense served as the co-feature bout. The taller champion cruised in the earlier rounds but Torres hustled her way into the fight before the midway point.
The champion, a 38-year old from Alberta, Canada, was forced to battle through a bad cut above the corner of her right eye. A head butt caused the damage.
Torres pressed forward over the final three rounds, and the champion stood her ground. The action was back-and-forth the entire way, making it difficult to find a definitive winner when compressed into 120 seconds per round. While hard-fought, the judges scored the cards 97-93, 98-92 and 96-94 if favor of Mrjdenovich.
Per BoxRec Mrjdenovich has held both the WBA and WBC Featherweight titles since her victorious rematch against Edith Matthysse in March 2016. Prior to Torres, she’d gone 4-0-1 since avenging her unanimous decision loss seven months earlier, and is now expected to fight WBO champion Amanda Serrano (39-1-1, 29 KOs) in a unification bout in 2021.
Last night in the Dominican Republic, Serrano – women’s boxing’s only seven-division champion – stopped Dahianna Santana in the first round of their rematch. Santana lasted until the eighth round of their April 2017 bout at Barclays Center.
All photos were provided by Tom Hogan/Ring City