Jaron “Boots” Ennis is one of boxing’s most notable rising stars, a 24-year-old welterweight out of Philadelphia who has picked up increasing buzz with routine appearances on PBC shows in the last couple of years.
He’ll return to action this Saturday, facing Canada’s Custio Clayton (19-0-1, 12 KO) in an IBF eliminator on the Charlo vs Castano 2 card on Showtime. Ennis (28-0, 26 KO) says he’s had a great training camp, and that he feels like he’s still maturing as a fighter, getting better each time out.
“I feel like I’m getting better at taking my time and being more relaxed in the ring,” said Ennis. “I believe that the better the competition I face, the better I’m going to be. We’ve been working on jabbing more and being even more alert and sharper.”
Clayton, 34, also has a big opportunity here, obviously. He was an Olympian for Canada in 2012, and finally got what you’d call a bigger fight in 2020, when he was matched against former 140 lb titleholder Sergey Lipinets for the interim IBF belt. The two went to a draw in a very competitive fight, one where both fighters had an argument in most of the rounds.
Ennis says he hasn’t personally looked too deeply into Clayton, but that he trusts his team to formulate the right plan.
“I don’t watch tape on people that I fight,” he said. “I let my team focus on that. We’re prepared all the way around. I don’t prepare just one way, because you don’t know how a fighter is going to fight you. So we just prepare for everything.
“This fight is everything to me. This is a big stage and it’s time for me to shine. From here on out, it’s only getting bigger and better. After I do my thing on May 14, we’re just going to keep going up and up. I’m looking to show everyone everything that I’m capable of. My speed, power, defense, ring IQ and footwork. At the end of the night, I’m coming for the knockout. That’s what the fans are coming to see. I’m going to show them what I can do and close the show with a knockout.”
Ennis also realizes there is a distinct possibility that this eliminator could eventually lead to him fighting for a vacant title. With Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr barking about an undisputed championship fight, there’s a good chance the winner of that would then move up to 154 lbs.
Crawford has already noted that as something he wants to do — specifically to fight Jermell Charlo, who has a chance to go undisputed at that weight on Saturday — and Spence’s time at 147 is probably limited, too, especially if he were to beat Crawford, because he could reasonably say he’s cleaned out the division then.
Ennis isn’t concerning himself with what happens, just on the fight at hand, and he figures someday he’ll see them in the ring anyway.
“It doesn’t matter to me if Spence and Crawford decide to stay in the division and face me,” he said. “I’d love to take the belts away from the champion, but if I have to fight for a vacant belt, I’ll see Spence and Crawford at 154 lbs. They can’t go too far.”
Bad Left Hook will have live, round-by-round coverage for Charlo vs Castano 2 on Saturday, May 14, starting at 9:00 pm ET.