By Thomas Gerbasi
2016 U.S. Olympian Charles Conwell usually focuses on modern boxers when doing a deep YouTube dive for some out of the gym studying. But he does reel off some familiar names when discussing the old school fighters he likes to watch.
“I’ve got some old favorites like Mike Tyson, Julian Jackson and Pernell Whitaker,” he said. “It all depends on what mood I’m in.”
Hmmm. So what mood does he think he’ll be in tonight when he makes his ShoBox debut against Roque Zapata in his hometown of Cleveland.
“I’m in a Julian Jackson type of mood,” he laughs. “I want to get him out of there, but I’m not gonna press the knockout.”
Given that Conwell is already 5-0 with five knockouts since turning pro in April, he’s been in a Julian Jackson mood pretty consistently. It goes to show what the 20-year-old thinks of “The Hawk.”
“That’s crazy power right there,” he said. “It just goes to show that those kinda dudes ain’t no joke.”
Neither is Conwell. Sure, he’s just a handful of fights into his career, but he’s got the talent, poise and power that will serve him well into a future that – unlike most boxers his age - he’s willing to take the proper time to get to.
“I just turned 20, so I can take my time,” he said. “I’m in no real rush to prove anything to anybody. I know what I got and what I can do.”
He also knows that Cleveland will be in his corner at the Masonic Temple & Performing Arts Center for his first home game as a pro.
“I think that gave me a little more push this camp, more than any other camp because I knew it was back at home and was gonna be on TV,” said Conwell, who also dodged ticket requests like a veteran.
“I just tell them the link’s in my bio, or hit up my mom or my brother,” he laughs.
If he sounds like a young man who has it all figured out, if he doesn’t, he’s certainly on the way there. But then again, he has been fighting for much of his life, getting used to the spotlight while still having to show up to high school on Monday.
“It put things back in perspective and showed that I’m just a regular person and I still got regular priorities like every other person,” he said of his days as a student at Cleveland Heights High School. “I just worked hard and my skills got me a little farther.”
Conwell also had a good support system around him that is still there as he begins his climb up the pro ladder.
“They supported me and kept me in check, so those are the people I wanted around me and I kept them around me,” he said. “They were always making sure I was staying focused and staying ready and was on my ‘A’ game, not only in boxing, but in everything I was doing.”
All that was left was for Conwell to lace up the gloves and fight, and he had that part down pat. Still does. Just watch him.
“It just goes to show that I can be focused on more than one thing and still be great at all things,” he said. “It helps me prepare for moments like this.”