Roiman Villa demonstrated that persistence can pay off.
The welterweight contender from Venezuela was outclassed by Rashidi Ellis in the first half of their fight but delivered a fierce rally — including two final-round knockdowns — to upset previously unbeaten Rashidi Ellis by a majority decision in a 12-round title eliminator.
One judge scored it 113-113, a draw. However, the other two favored Villa 114-112, six rounds each. Boxing Junkie scored it 114-112 for Ellis.
Ellis (25-0, 15 KOs) controlled the first six rounds with an incessant jab, plenty of hard, accurate power shots and the ability to use his feet to stay out of harm’s way.
He appeared to be on his way to an one-sided victory. However, Villa (26-1, 24 KOs) had different ideas.
Villa’s relentless pressure paid off the second half of the action, when he began to land hard, punishing shots to Ellis’ head and body to climb back into the fight.
The Venezuelan won the fight in the final round, when he put Ellis down twice — once from a left hook midway through the frame and again with a flurry of shots in the final seconds — to earn a 10-7 round.
That proved to be the difference on the scorecards in the first significant upset of 2023.
“I know that fighters such as him who are quick sooner or later will get a little tired and that’s what I took advantage of,” Villa said in the ring afterward.
Ellis, stunned by the scoring, wants a rematch.
“I thought I was dictating the fight,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t know what happened. … I totally disagree with the decision. I was winning most of the rounds.
“Yeah, he had the knockdown, but other than that, I was winning most of the rounds.”