by B.A. Cass
You don’t have to be Freemason to gain entrance on Friday night to the Masonic Temple & Performing Arts Center in Cleveland, OH where DiBella Entertainment will put on an exciting line up of boxing matches. You don’t even have to be living in the Cleveland area because you can catch the main event, along with the two preceding undercard fights, on Showtime starting at 10 p.m. ET.
The three fights are part of the “ShoBox: Next Generation” series, and the first televised fight will be between Junior Fa and Fred Latham. The next fight will be between Radzhab Butaev and Janer Gonzalez.
The main event of the evening will be between Luis Ross and Yuandale Evens.
Charles Conwell (5-0) vs. Roque Zapata (4-1-3)
Great amateur boxers are often fundamentally more sound than great professional boxers. That’s because the sole objective of the amateur is to win and they do not have to think so much about entertaining the crowd.
Conwell, the youngest member of the 2016 Men’s USA Boxing Team, is just a year into his professional career and still maintains the integrity and solid defense strategy from his amateur days. And yet he’s fun to watch. He knows how to absorb punches without sustaining damage, and he has an impeccable sense of when to go for the kill.
He has won all five of his professional fights by TKO.
Roque Zapata is a jumpy fighter and throws punches as if his fists were just the extensions of his unraveled nerve endings. He moves wildly and can be dangerous. He may not be as skilled a boxer as Conwell, but he’s one of those fighters who could get hit in the face with a block of cement and barely flinch. He often unleashes his most brutal attacks on opponents after he has sustained significant damage himself.
Conwell has the reach advantage over Zapata, but Zapata has fought taller men before and beaten them. Plus, Zapata is unpredictable. He could give the fundamentally more sound Conwell a hard time.
Junior Fa (12-0) vs. Fred Latham (9-0-2); heavyweight
Fa, a New Zealander, made his professional boxing debut in February of 2016. Since then, he’s kept busy—extremely busy. In just over a year, he’s fought twelve times. That’s a remarkable number of fights for a boxer in today’s age—or in any age, for that matter. Fa is tough and brutal.
Pointing forward with his manicured little beard, the heavy-footed Latham knows how to work a clean jab. He likes to stand in one spot and punch, and it may prove difficult for him to move out of reach of Fa, who is known for his combination assaults.
Radzhab Butaev (7-0) vs. Janer Gonzalez (19-0-1); welterweight
The 23-year-old Butaev was born in Russia just two years after the fall of the Soviet Union. He is despot of the ring—cool, menacing, wielding complete power. Butaev has won all his fights, and all but one of these wins have been by KO.
Janer (19-0-1) makes his US fight debut when he steps into the ring to face Buteav. Janer, who has the advantage of experience, is unknown to US fight fans. Like Buteav, he’s undefeated, but we just don’t know what to expect from him.
However, we can expect one thing of this fight.
Both men will fight as if everything is on the line because everything is. This showcase fight has the potential to advance the career of the man who wins.
Luis Rosa (23-0) vs. Yuandale Evans (19-1); featherweight
Last seen in the sparsely crowded Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven, CT where he defeated Carlos Osorio (then 13-6), the 26-year-old Rosa steps into the ring on Friday night as a man determined to win.
We all know that becoming a world champion requires something more than skill. It requires a dedication that borders on the psychotic and something else, something ineffable. Luis Rosa has that all of these qualities.
A smart inside fighter who knows how to make necessary adjustments during a round, Rosa often remains elusive in the ring despite the fact that fights at close range. He’s tough and likes to go
Evans is a different type of fighter, more of a pure boxer. But after suffering a first-round KO to Javier Fortuna in 2012, Evans stayed out the ring for nearly two and half years. He’s fought three times since his return in 2015, and he’s on a winning streak. The Cleveland born Evans is a skilled boxer and he will be fighting for the first in front of a hometown crowd.
Don’t discount Evens just because he’s been less active than Rosa. Disappointing his fans won’t be an option for him when he enters the ring on Friday night. Expect this to be one good fight.
Follow B.A. Cass on Twitter @WiththePunch