Junior middleweight hopeful Charles Conwell scored a fifth-round stoppage of Ramses Agaton at the Civic Center in Hammond, Indiana, on Saturday night. For Conwell, it was his first bout since the tragic aftermath of his last fight, on Oct. 12, in which Patrick Day fell into a coma after getting knocked out in 10 rounds and then died the next week from brain trauma suffered in the fight.
Conwell (12-0, 9 KOs) told ESPN on Sunday afternoon: "It felt good, I was back in my element, back where I was comfortable, back having fun and doing my thing. So I was real excited to be back."
The 22-year-old native of Cleveland said that after the death of Day, he had contemplated his future in the sport.
"When you experience something that bad, you don't want it to happen again, or to anybody else," said Conwell, who represented the United States in the 2016 Olympics. "So you think about it, you question, 'Should I be doing this?' or, 'Should I keep doing this?' Just stuff like that."
For a spell, Conwell stayed away from social media as speculation swirled about Day's condition.
"I definitely got off the internet for a little while, it was just a lot of stuff happening after that time," he explained. "You got a lot of crazy people who talk in different types of ways -- positive and negative -- but I wanted to keep my mind clear. I stayed away from all that type of stuff."
But Conwell did pen an emotional, open letter on Instagram to Day and his team in which he addressed the dire situation.
After about a month off, Conwell got back to work, and it was there that he found solace.
"I feel boxing actually made me feel better, going to the gym, and working out, hitting the bag," Conwell said. "It's my element, so it was more comforting than anything else."
This particular fight this weekend was a small, club show, meaning it was not televised on a major outlet. This was by design.
"We just felt like after everything that happened, he deserved sort of a non-pressure situation to find out if he was going to be affected in some way," said his manager, David McWater. "It's just really caring about his emotions."
Conwell said of this decision: "It made it kind of better, it was the first one back, just to see where I'm at. It made it smooth, more comfortable. I liked it."
In this particular fight, Agaton (22-12-3, 12 KOs) was hit repeatedly to the body. But Conwell, who is a heavy-handed puncher, insists it had nothing to do with the Day fight.
"It was the game plan I was going with for that certain opponent," he stated. "I wanted to concentrate on the body a lot because of certain different reasons, certain scenarios with the fight, and I just wanted to dwell on the body. I knew that was a good way to get that guy out of there."
As he got ready for the fight, Conwell said he really felt no different than any other bout. But after his victory, he admitted it was a mixture of relief and jubilation.
"Not only for me, but I feel for a lot of people who thought I couldn't continue on,'' expressed Conwell. "So it wasn't just for myself, but people around me, my fans, people who know me. It was for all of them."
Conwell will move on to a fight on April 10 that will be televised on Showtime, according to McWater. The young man who started boxing at age 11 with his father taking him to the gym is now living out his dreams as a professional athlete with big plans for 2020.
"This year, I want to prove a lot, I want to do a lot, prove I'm one of the top guys out here," Conwell said. "I'm going to stay in the gym, stay working, getting better every day, not really taking any time off."