Charles Conwell: Bad News With a Happy Ending
Undefeated Super Welterweight Charles Conwell rebounded from a trying late-2019 to battle through a challenging 2020 in order to cement himself as a contender, in hope of a big 2021
The business of boxing is inherently extremely difficult. Fighters don’t need anything to further complicate all of the challenges required to be navigated, just for the victor to enjoy the spoils. Undefeated Super Welterweight Charles “Bad News” Conwell has been navigating the past couple of years. The 23-year old has experienced many highs and lows in his short journey.
In 2016 Conwell was the youngest member on the USA Boxing team that competed at the Rio Games. While still completing his studies to graduate Cleveland Heights High School in Ohio, he qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team by winning gold medals at the U.S. Olympic Trials and Americas Qualifier. Unfortunately, in early August 2016 he lost his first Olympic fight via a 3-0 decision to India’s Krishnan Vikas. Vikas initially won a decision against current unified Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in London at the Games in 2012. After a review the decision didn’t stand and Spence moved on in the tournament.
The young Cleveland native won his professional debut bout in April 2017. That November he made his debut on a ShoBox: The New Generation series stop in Cleveland. He went the distance in the six-rounder, dropping Roque Zapata three times en route to his first decision. In July 2018 on ESPN’s streaming app, he stopped Travis Scott in the second round of a bout contested at Middleweight.
The more I fight, the better I get. – undefeated Super Welterweight Charles “Bad News” Conwell
Conwell made two appearances on the undercard of two events that streamed on the DAZN app. He out-pointed Courtney Pennington for his 10th victory in June, at Madison Square Garden, on Gennadiy Golovkin’s debut on DAZN. Four months later in October, the Olympian took on Patrick Day at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena on a card headlined by the streaming app’s debut of former undisputed Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk. Conwell improved to 11-0 with the 10th round knockout, but after a valiant effort Day never regained consciousness. A few days later the 27-year old, a beloved member of New York’s boxing community, passed away from injuries sustained in the fight.
The fight encompassed all of the beautiful facets of prize-fighting. Everything prior to the EMT acting quickly in response to the unexpected medical emergency. Day, with a record of 17-3-1 with 6 KOs, was the ideal opponent for the development of Conwell into a contender. Day was a consummate professional. He neither cheated nor demeaned boxing in any way. Despite his three losses and one draw, he was expected to test Conwell. During the fight week press conference Day took to the podium and graciously stated the realities of the bout – against a favorite with Olympic pedigree. Most importantly, Day’s remarks conveyed the fact that in accepting the fight versus Conwell, he was testing himself.
On fight night he battled with Conwell in a spirited fashion. He fought courageously, rarely taking a step back and he got up from a knockdown in the fight’s first half. Afterwards, once he regrouped he bit down on his mouth guard, and he competed fiercely until Conwell’s power decided the outcome. The next morning, the then-21 year old’s world changed. After several years of solely aspiring to become a world champion, boxing became the last thing with which he wanted to be associated. Following the announcement of Day’s passing, after processing the horrendous death of the young man, and quickly becoming the target of the brunt of fans’ reaction, it all drove Conwell into exile with his family.
After spending weeks in solitude, and mulling his future over, Conwell returned to the ring in early February. Inside the Civic Center in Hammond, Indiana, less than hour away from the site of his last fight, the young man stopped Ramses Agaton in the fourth round of a bout scheduled eight. The win, Conwell’s 12th, proved that the memory of Day is a moment that he’ll never move past, but it’s a moment from which life will command him to move on.
Prior to Conwell’s next move in his young career, COVID-19 shut the entire world down. The pandemic forced Split-T Management to scrap its plans for a spring ShoBox card that would’ve been co-headlined by Conwell and his half-brother Isaiah Steen. Premium cable network Showtime resumed its boxing schedule in September, and aired its first ShoBox since the pandemic on Wednesday, October 7. Once again the brothers were tabbed to handle the co-main event duties, but attempts to salvage Steen’s fight failed.
Conwell’s fight went on as planned, but his bout hit a bit of a lull when Wendy Toussaint became increasingly enamored with posing and taunting than outright competing. Past the midpoint of the fight frustration surfaced in the Conwell corner, reiterating that with main events comes expectations from promoters and broadcast partners. Trainer Otha Jones II calmly reminded the young contender that a big moment, while in prime time, made it easier for big phone calls to be made for the Olympian’s services. A couple of rounds later the 22-year old landed an uppercut that broke Toussaint’s nose and forced the New Yorker to back out of the pocket to take a final knee.
Conwell Lands The Main Event of Newcomer Ring City USA
Conwell’s performance during Showtime’s residency at the Mohegun Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut ended well. More so than the quality of his fight, any further opportunities with Showtime may remain tabled into early-2021, as boxing awaits nationwide approval for fans to begin attending sports events. However, an interesting call was made to Cleveland, or to Toledo’s Soul City Gym. There Conwell trains under Jones II and son Roshawn Jones, along with the family’s active fighters Otha Jones III and 2021 Olympian Oshae Jones.
Ring City USA chose Conwell as a key half of its December 17 main event against previously undefeated Madiyar Ashkeyev. The competitive bout closed out Ring City’s third date on NBC Sports Network – and was also outfit’s final show of 2020. Ashkeyev tried to withstand Conwell’s pressure in the opening rounds, but the Ohioan’s intensifying attacking gradually seized full control. The physicality of the fight chipped away Ashkeyev’s mettle. Conwell’s growing strength and power punching caused concern in his opponent’s corner, and Asheyev wisely retired ahead of the 10th round.
There was a slight sense of relief at the conclusion of the Toussaint fight. Not because the rangy opponent remained a live threat late, but because he made the fight dull once he realized he didn’t have any solutions. Ashkeyev continued to fight, putting forth an effort that enabled Conwell to showcase both his class and his charisma. The rising contender spoke on his enjoyment in his victory, which was visible throughout the fight.
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 (undefeated opponents),” 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.”
As part of the promotional content for the December 17 fight, Conwell set down inside an empty ring for an interview with Ring City’s Curran Bhatia. Expectedly, the questioning revisited the fight against Day in Chicago. Conwell paused, sighed and leaned back into the corner his stool was near. Similar to his style in the ring, the young fighter seemingly fought to find the words to avoid sounding insensitive to the memory of the late Day, while sharing his enthusiasm towards receiving opportunities to fulfill his life.
The recent arrival of a baby girl, his first child, naturally reshuffled his reasons for fighting. Watching Conwell fight on NBCSN last Thursday night, again the subtler beautiful aspects of boxing were on full display. Signs of improvement in a rising young fighter. Hints of a prospect’s strengths that may propel them into contention. A growing sense of the discipline and perseverance required to truly compete with and outlast a reigning champion. And lastly, the presence of a minimal amount of the theatrics that engage viewers and keep them around to see what’s next.
The world’s suffered an untold amount of loss over the past nine months. During this unprecedented time, life has dealt with the dying coldly, according to many reports. Simultaneously, life has also commanded the living to move on in a moment filled with questions to which we might be lucky to learn the answers to at some point in 2021.
Young Conwell’s last year-plus in the ring has shown that even ‘bad news’ can have a happy ending, so long as we choose to keep fighting. Summiting the Super Welterweight division will undoubtedly be tough. Ascending to champion status will likely prove to be a challenge for yet another northeast Ohio kid. But just keep watching the young new father in action. You’ll start to see that his punishing style reminds opponents that he hails from the ‘Land that rocks. The intangible that gives Conwell a solid shot at the top is, he’s also got soul.
Header photo and gallery by Tom Hogan/Ring City USA