By John Freund
On November 10th, 2017, Yuandale ‘Money Shot’ Evans scored a split-decision victory over previously undefeated Luis Rosa for the vacant WBC Continental Americas Featherweight title. The fight – which aired live on ShoBox – comes on the heels of Evans’ upset win over top-ranked Billel Dib in April. Due to contractual disputes, Evans had fought only twice in the 5 years prior to the Dib win. Boxing Insider interviewed Evans after the Dib victory, and below is our follow-up on the Rosa fight and what lies in store for Evans’ resurgent career.
Boxing Insider (BI): Congratulations on the big victory. What does it feel like to win a hard-fought battle on ShoBox in front of your home crowd?
Yuandale Evans (YE): It feels amazing, man. I was a bit edgy to hear that it was a split decision… I don’t want people to think I won the fight because it was at home. I want people to respect me because I’m a true champion and I pulled that ‘W’ out. But other than that it feels amazing.
BI: This was a classic boxer/brawler fight. During the early rounds, Rosa took the fight inside, and to a lot of people’s surprise you seemed willing to stay there. Were you trying to prove that you could brawl with this guy, or were you simply fighting on instinct and willing to trade?
YE: Mostly instincts and I was willing to trade with him. I wanted that guy tired. I thought that going in there and brawling with him was maybe the dumbest thing I ever did, but it actually turned into a positive because it was one of the most action-packed fights in years on ShoBox. I could have boxed him and wore him down with the jab, but I just felt like that guy is like a Raging Bull, and the only way you can get with him is if you really ‘get with him’ on his level. I can box and I can brawl, so I chose a different technique and just rolled the dice and tried that.
Like I said, the first round it wasn’t good to do that – but I don’t think it worked against me. The adrenaline, the action; I think that needed to happen. I think both fighters needed to be tested.
BI: During the middle rounds, you found your jab and began maintaining distance. How were you able to make that mid-fight adjustment?
YE: My coaching. My trainer. My corner – Barry Hunter – he was the reason I was able to make that adjustment. Barry just told me to have trust in him and trust in my jab. Seeing that Rosa could take a punch, I had to resort to Plan B, which was to box and to keep him turning. And while I was doing it he wasn’t touching me. He was getting frustrated. He even took his foot off the gas. I have 59 inches of reach and I’m 5’5” and 126lbs, so the best thing I could have done was box. I gave the viewers and ShoBox the brawler, but now it was time for me to box.
So I made a statement to the Featherwieght Division and to my up and coming opponents: I’m not to be messed with! I can box and I can brawl, and I also have defense. I was standing in the ropes and the corner and just was dipping shots with my hands down to my stomach. So I gave a little bit of everything just to show my weight class and ShoBox and my fans that ‘here you go, I’m gonna give you what you want to see.’
BI: He caught you with a strong right in the 8th. You seemed hurt, but you not only managed to survive, you came back and dominated the end of the round. What do you attribute that to?
YE: The 8th round – that was one of my favorite rounds. I feel like I lost that round, but I felt like I was smart with my decisions. He couldn’t hit going in; he landed a lot of shots but they weren’t effective. He landed that shot while I was lacking with my right hand – he caught me in an exchange and he wobbled me. I took one step back and I fell on my back leg. The biggest mistake he did was he rushed me. He rushes me and I grabbed him and all I was thinking mentally was ‘let’s play it smart.’ So I grabbed him and I waited. I was able to recover, and I stepped to the left and I hurt him. I hydrated right before the fight and lost weight the right way, so I was able to recover after a shot like that where I wouldn’t have been able to when I was a kid. It’s very important for a boxer’s career to recover, and I recovered fast.
I feel great about the way I went about that – after I got hurt, I did the right thing: I held him. If you’re hurt, just hold him (laughs). I ended up getting a lucky punch off after that. I was ready to get back in the game, and I ended up clipping him. Hats off to both fighters, we both survived, no cuts, so it was a great experience.
BI: The last 2 rounds turned back into a brawl, but you managed to land the cleaner, more effective punches. Did you feel like you were winning as the fight ended?
YE: Yeah, because I went to what I was told to go to from the start, which was boxing. I threw a lot of punches in the last round. Basically, I wanted the fight easier to be judged. This guy was sloppy; he was head-butting me, he was elbowing me, he was so tight in this fight that you couldn’t judge what he was throwing. He threw 4 jabs in 10 rounds, so nothing looked clean from his way. You could see him land shots, but nothing was exactly clean. Like I said on TV, this fight could be judged 3 or 4 different ways, but Evans landed the straighter shots and the cleaner, more effective shots.
For the 9th and 10th rounds though, I knew I had those rounds. I gave it my all, and I wanted it more than him. On his Instagram page, everyone is saying, ‘You got robbed.’ I’m like ‘Clearly you didn’t get robbed. An Ohio judge had you winning the fight.’ At the end of the day, it is what it is. I passed the test with him and came out with the victory.
BI: What did you learn about yourself after this fight?
YE: I got wiser. I got more mature and smarter about some things. I learned that I still make mistakes. My legs are too straight, my chin is too high. I learned that I still go into dog fights in the early rounds.
But I learned some things that I already knew as well. My entire layoff, I knew that I would come back stronger. I stayed dedicated, I stayed devoted to my craft. I told Billel Dib when I fought him, ‘Bro, you’re going on my old fights when I was knocking bums out. I can box, I have defense. I am way better than I used to be. You’re going to have problems with me.”
So I definitely learned that I matured and that I listen to my corner, and I also learned that I still make mistakes and that I’m still hard-headed and I like to brawl. So at the end of the day, I learned good and bad.
BI: After all the contractual issues you’ve had with promoters and managers, and the resulting inactivity, how does it feel to come back and win two big fights against top-ranked opponents?
YE: Oh my god man, it feels so good, man! Billel Dib was a top-10 guy in the rankings, and I was like a nobody. And then to come out and win this fight, it feels so good, man, because I know deep down inside that I belong. I have that passion – I put in those days and those hours. I sparred with Gervonta Davis, Rau’shee Warren, Luis Franco, Gamboa and Rigondeaux. I know deep down inside that I belong where I am right now. I just had to get in that position. I didn’t let a 3-year layoff break me down. I came from nothing, and I was back at nothing. So I just had to keep working, keep working, keep working. That’s all you have to do in life. You cannot fail by trying. You only fail if you don’t try at the end of the day. If you don’t succeed, that’s not failing – that’s still succeeding, because you tried. How can you lose if you try?
BI: The Featherweight division is one of the most stacked in boxing. Where do you think this performance places you? Are you in line for a title shot, or will you next face a top contender like Scott Quigg or Jesus Cuellar?
YE: In all honesty, I feel like that fight should put me in the top-10. And I want to fight the top-5. After a warrior-fight like that, I feel like, you can’t go wrong putting me in the top-10, and you can’t go wrong having me fight the top-5. I feel like I can beat Santa Cruz. I know I can beat Santa Cruz. I KNOW I can beat Santa Cruz. I feel like me and Frampton would have a war, but I can beat Frampton. I feel like Gary Russell is too little. I’ve grown up against Gary Russell. He’s fought against guys I fought against in the gym. And he’s a great fighter – I don’t discredit any of those guys. But when you have passion, you want those big fights. Those are the fights I want.
BI: You keep going the way you’re going, and I’m sure you will have a title fight some time soon. One final question: The Lomachenko-Rigondeaux fight is 2 weeks away. Who ya’ got?
YE: Rigo. I’m going Rigo. I grew up around him, sparring with him in Miami, and that guy is amazing. Lomachenko is great too, but nobody’s gonna beat Rigo. I can’t wait for that fight, man.
BI: We’re excited too. Congrats again on the big win, and hopefully we’ll see you in a championship fight of your own real soon.
YE: Thanks a lot, thanks for having me.