Rashidi Ellis simply dd what he had to do in order to advance to the next level.
A battle of unbeaten welterweight prospects eager to become contenders saw Ellis outbox Alexis Rocha en route to a 12-round unanimous decision win.
Judges Chris Migliore and Jerry Cantu scored the contest 116-112 apiece, while Fernando Villareal had it 115-113 for Ellis in a DAZN-streamed clash Friday evening at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Both boxers looked to work their jabs in the early rounds. Ellis’ speed is normally an overwhelming difference in most fights, but didn’t seem to bother Rocha who was able to close the gap.
Ellis adjusted and timed the California native coming in during several exchanges in round two. Rocha attempted to adapt, sticking his jab in Ellis’ face and following with straight left hands. Ellis continued to move side to side, looking for angles to come in with his right hand.
Rocha began to find his stride by round four, carrying over into the middle rounds. His aggression got the best of him, however, as Rocha was warned for a left hand which went well below Ellis’ beltline. The infraction didn’t discourage Rocha from continuing to target the body, while Ellis was throwing one shot at a time.
Ellis created space between the two in round six, though limiting himself to counterpuncher in hopes of catching an incoming Rocha. The unbeaten welterweight from the greater Boston area landed his best punch of the fight to that point in round seven, connecting with an uppercut on the inside. Rocha took the shot well but struggled to pin down Ellis for the balance of the round.
Rocha was urged by his corner to let his hands go after a relatively lethargic round eight, as Ellis was slowly dictating the pace and claiming momentum at the right time in the fight. The same pattern held true in round nine, with Ellis potshotting Rocha while circling the ring.
Action picked up in round ten, particularly due to Rocha closing the gap and forcing a fight out of a boxing match. Ellis went back to constant movement after Rocha was able to drive left hands through his guard with regularity throughout a round he badly needed on the scorecards.
Ellis poked with his jab to start round eleven, though none with purpose as Rocha was able to walk inside. Rocha connected with a right hook one minute into the frame but spent the rest of the round just waiting out Ellis rather than initiating a firefight.
The 12th and final round saw both boxers fighting with purpose. Rocha fired off left hands, while Ellis was able to draw in his foe and connect with lead right hands. Ellis shot his jab and right hands down the stretch, while Rocha looked for a home run shot which never presented itself.
Ellis advances to 23-0 (14KOs) with the win, getting it down by outworking Rocha over the long haul. The 27-year old landed 171-of-709 punches (24%), compared to 149-of-683 (22%) for Rocha who falls to 16-1 (10KOs).
The bout served as the chief support to a middleweight scrap between Jaime Munguia (35-0, 28KOs) and Tureano Johnson (21-2-1, 15KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox