It seems that despite just turning 25 earlier this month, Charles Conwell has been around for a long time, doing nothing but winning as he pursues a world title shot at 154 pounds. But the 2016 U.S. Olympian remains patient, though he wouldn’t describe it as such.
“I don't think I've really been patient,” Conwell said. “I just think I've been humble and staying quiet because I know my opportunity's gonna come. And now that it's here, I'm excited and I'm ready to do whatever I have to do to get to the big stage and fight the big names.”
Awaiting a Saturday bout with Dominican Republic veteran Juan Carlos Abreu on Saturday’s Regis Prograis-Jose Zepeda undercard that doubles as a WBC semifinal title eliminator, the Clevelander has never been one to get too high or too low emotionally, but he does admit that this fight has a little extra behind it for him.
“I think this is it,” he said. “This is a semifinal eliminator, so that's a real big thing. It puts me up in the rankings, and after this, I think there's no going back. It's only up from there.”
Currently 17-0 with 13 KOs, Conwell sits in the number five spot in the WBC rankings, with champion Jermell Charlo and interim titleholder Sebastian Fundora at the top. If you haven’t heard Conwell’s name in the same sentence with either fighter’s, that’s not surprising. As far as it being a compliment or a curse, he says, “I think it's a little bit of both. I just think everybody thinks I'm a high risk, low reward type of fight, so they just try to avoid me for as long as they can, but they can't avoid me forever.”
It’s a refreshing approach from a young man who has been doing things the old school way since his pro debut in 2017. Sign the contract, show up, win; all the while letting his fists – and not his social media account - do the talking. Yeah, this is a business, with all that goes along with it, but when Conwell steps into the ring, it’s to fight.
Even his handling of the tragic death of Patrick Day after their 2019 bout showed a maturity beyond his years, and while some have had better fights on Twitter than in the ring, Conwell is not about to sell his soul for a few likes.
“I was always secure in myself,” he said. “I don't ever try to go outside of my character with anything that doesn't feel right to me and doesn't match my personality. That's why a lot of people don't see me on social media talking crazy or doing anything out of the ordinary. That's not my style.”
So he never wanted to see how the other half lives?
“Nah, that's not me,” he laughs. “If I do that, I would be lying to myself.”
An honest man and an honest fighter in 2022. What a concept. So don’t be surprised with his response when asked about the future after Saturday night. In his eyes, there is only Saturday night, and if he can’t get by Abreu, who is coming off back-to-back knockouts of previously unbeaten Tursynbay Kulakhmet and 43-year-old Emilio Julio, how can he even talk of facing and besting the champions of his division.
“This is the make-or-break moment for me,” Conwell said. “If I don't get past this, I can't even think about next year or next week or whatever's coming next. So I have to get past this, and that's why I'm so heavily focused on this fight right here. Without me getting past this, there won't be a big next year or a big next fight. So I gotta get past this one first.”
Sounds like a man with a plan, one that doesn’t just include a win on Saturday and a couple belts in the future, but something even more lasting than that.
“You can't deny greatness,” he said. “Time and time again, I've been in the ring, and I just kept winning and kept doing my thing. They can't keep denying me.”
This is the boxing business, though, where plenty of good things get denied on a daily basis.
“For sure,” Conwell agrees. “But when you're doing what I'm doing - keep winning and keep doing it impressively - you can't deny it. The people see it and everybody else sees it.”
Forget old school. Charles Conwell, at 25, is an old school old soul.
“Nah, man. When the time is right, it will all come into place.”