Charles Conwell wants to provide a reminder to boxing fans Saturday night that he is one of the junior middleweights most worth watching in 2023.
The undefeated Cleveland native has fought only once in almost 15 months, yet he hopes an impressive victory over heavy-handed Dominican veteran Juan Carlos Abreu helps him regain some momentum heading into what Conwell expects to be the best year of his career. Conwell (17-0, 13 KOs), a 2016 U.S. Olympian, and Abreu (25-6-1, 23 KOs, 1 NC) are scheduled to square off as part of the Regis Prograis-Jose Zepeda pay-per-view undercard at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT; $59.99).
“I’m very excited to get back in the ring,” Conwell told BoxingScene.com. “I really wanna fight better competition and be more active and get those bigger guys in the ring. It’s definitely been frustrating. It feels like sometimes I’m being held back. I don’t know by what or who, but I feel like I’m being held back from my true potential. But I know that I’m only gonna get better and better. The longer they wait, the better I’ll get. So, it’ll be harder for them to beat me. It’s just that sometimes it’s hard to be patient when you just wanna go out there and show the world how great you are.”
The 35-year-old Abreu upset an ambitious prospect, Kazakhstan’s Tursynbay Kulakhmet (4-1, 3 KOs), by seventh-round knockout two fights ago. Abreu has beaten both of his opponents by knockout since Philadelphia welterweight Jaron Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs, 1 NC) stopped him in the sixth round in October 2020.
“I think Abreu’s definitely gonna come in and try to get the upset,” Conwell said. “But, at the end of the day, I just feel like I’m better than him all around, in every aspect. If I just do what I do best, stay focused and stick to my game plan, put everything together, it should be a great night of boxing for myself.”
Conwell is prepared for Abreu’s attempts to rough him up in their 10-rounder.
“He’s definitely a rugged fighter,” said Conwell, who is ranked fourth by the IBF, fifth by the WBC, eighth by the WBO and 12th by the WBA. “I’ve been working on some things to combat those dirty tactics or crafty tactics, whatever you wanna call it, and I’m just gonna implement those things throughout the fight, stay focused, think about what I’m doing and not really worry about what he’s doing.”
Ennis, who is commonly considered one of the most talented boxers in the sport, is the only opponent who has stopped Abreu inside the distance during his 11-year, 32-fight career. While well aware of that statistic, the 25-year-old Conwell is much more concerned with winning convincingly than becoming just the second fighter to knock out Abreu.
“I feel like it’s important for me to go out there and put on a great performance, no matter if it’s a shutout win or a knockout,” Conwell said. “It doesn’t really matter, as long as I get my hand raised and do it in dominant fashion and just display my skill level. I’m just happy to go out there and show dominance.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.