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Jaron Ennis: Top welterweights are avoiding me, don’t want to fight me

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“Boots” Ennis returns Saturday on Showtime.

Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

Top welterweight prospect Jaron “Boots” Ennis is sick of being a “top welterweight prospect,” and while he’s set to return Saturday night on Showtime (9 pm ET) against Chris van Heerden, the Philadelphia fighter says he’s ready to take on the top names at 147.

“I just want to fight the world champions,” said Ennis. “I want to fight the top five guys. I’m ready, and I’ve been ready to make a big statement. I just have to stay focused and do what I have to do and handle my business and then it’s on to bigger and better things.”

Ennis (26-0, 24 KO) has been bowling over his recent opponents since getting his career back and fully active in 2019. In 2020, he’s smashed Bakhtiyar Eyubov and Juan Carlos Abreu, finishing those foes in four and six rounds, respectively.

At 23, Ennis has yet to go past six rounds, but says he’s got no concerns about being able to go deep in a higher-level fight.

“We prepare ourselves for 12, 15 rounds,” he said. “I can go all day long. I get stronger as the fight goes on. I know people haven’t gotten to see that side of me yet. If it goes past six rounds, then I’m in shape for it. I’m always in shape, and I’m ready to go. No matter many rounds I have to go.”

South Africa’s van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KO) is a solid veteran, a 33-year-old southpaw who has won five straight since being blasted out in eight by Errol Spence Jr back in 2015. But no one is confusing him for a top-tier opponent, either, and Ennis wants to make a statement to force the big names at welterweight to get in the ring with him next year.

“At the end of the day people are seeing that it’s not my fault I’m not getting these big fights,” Ennis said. “These guys are hopping around me and don’t want to fight me. I can only fight who they put in front of me. I definitely think I need to make a big statement on Dec. 19 so that in 2021 I can start getting the big fights. I will be a world champion in 2021!”

As for fighting a fellow southpaw, the naturally right-handed Ennis says he enjoys it, and that it shouldn’t be seen as a potentially tricky issue.

“Everybody knows I love to fight southpaws,” he said. “Early in my career I fought four or five southpaws back-to-back. I love it. It’s easy for me and they don’t give me any problems. I know southpaws don’t like fighting other southpaws, but I love fighting them.”

Saturday’s Showtime card is headlined by Emmanuel Rodriguez facing Reymart Gaballo for the interim WBC bantamweight title, with Ennis-van Heerden set for 10 rounds in the co-feature, and Gary Antonio Russell meeting Juan Carlos Payano in a bantamweight bout.