“Speedy” Rashidi Ellis (18-0, 12 KOs) got a serious test against the very game John Karl Sosa (13-3, 6 KOs) on Thursday night in the co-main event at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
When the judges scorecards were announced–97-93, 97-93, 95-95–Ellis’ hand was raised in a majority decision victory to keep his IBF North American Welterweight title and stay undefeated.
Ellis, like his nickname, wanted to start fast as he came out guns blazing in the opening rounds. Various combinations to the head and body tried to catch Sosa off guard, but it seemed like Sosa did his homework and was able to hold off those flurries and fight his fight.
Ringside color commentator Teddy Atlas hit it right on the nose in the opening round mentioning that if Sosa could last through the early rounds, he’d be able to push and test Ellis for the first time in his career.
He was 100 percent right.
In the middle rounds, it was hard to tell that Sosa was coming off an 11-month layoff. He was the aggressor in that stretch and was dictating the distance from Ellis.
Watching the telecast live, Sosa gained confidence early from taking Ellis’ punch and numerous times was walking through his punches knowing he couldn’t hurt him. Heading into the later rounds it did really seem like anybody’s fight.
Ellis looked winded with his mouth constantly open, sucking for air, while he held every chance he could get. His combinations had disappeared as it looked like he was looking for that one-hitter quitter.
Going into the 10th and final round, Ellis’ trainer, Alex Rivera was pleading his case to his 23-year-old fighter to give him one last round as the fight, to people in the stands and watching live on ESPN2, could go either way.
With both fighters going toe to toe in the final three minutes, Ellis answered the call of his trainer and delivered a huge round with great body work.
It was an exclamation point in the young fighter’s career and a test that down the road, Ellis and his team will look back on and be glad they got it.