How about a Boots Ennis-Danny Garcia Philly showdown in 2021
Jaron “Boots” Ennis has heard it before. His next opponent is supposed to be his toughest opponent and blah, blah, blah. What does Ennis always do? He wins.
This time, however, rugged 33-year-old South African southpaw Chris van Heerden could actually be the toughest opponent Ennis (26-0, 24 knockouts) faces to date when the two meet in a scheduled 10-round welterweight fight Saturday night on Showtime from the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KOs) has only been stopped once in his career (by Errol Spence Jr. in Sept. 2015) and is on a five-fight winning streak.
“Every time I fight, I hear that it’s supposed to be my toughest test, so we’ll see.” Ennis said. “At the end of the day, I train hard and make sure that I’m prepared. I’m ready to put on a beautiful show and get the win, as always. I know this guy is a southpaw and is a replacement.”
Ennis, 23, has a difficult time finding sparring to begin with, but with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become that much more trying. Ennis is a self-motivator and he feels he’ll be well prepared for van Heerden.
This fight is significant for Ennis because he feels this will be his jump-start to a big 2021.
“I will have those big-name fights out there,” Ennis said. “I want to fight all of those guys out there. They don’t want to fight me. A fight like Danny Garcia would be a great fight for me, a great step up. I respect Danny and his father Angel. It would be a big fight for Philly.”
And it could make some sense.
Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs) is 3-3 over his last six fights, and could use a signature victory over a quality opponent to remain relevant. “Swift” is still a top-10 welterweight, who’s proven he’s good, though just not good enough to beat the elite in the division like Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman. He’s been pushed to the back of the 147-pound line. Would beating some also-ran with a glossy record move him towards the front, and would anyone want to see it?
Ennis is at a stage now in his professional career where he can compete with the Spences, Porters, Thurmans and Garcias of the welterweight division. No one is saying Ennis would win, nor is anyone saying he would lose, either.
But he has the ability and skill to stay with anyone in the upper realm of the welterweight class. All he’s been denied is an opportunity.
“Boots looks sharp and strong, and one thing about him, Boots is a gym rat who loves working out.” said Bozy Ennis, Boots’ father and trainer. “Van Heerden is a tough guy. I saw him fight against Spence. He’s a tough, durable guy.
“We’re looking at 2021 being a big year for Boots. Danny Garcia’s team has already said that they wouldn’t fight Boots. I love Danny and his father. Danny didn’t even want to spar Boots. I do think a fight between Boots and Danny would help us both.
“A Boots-Garcia fight would be huge in Philly. Danny is my man. He came up in my gym. But I think a fight with Danny would be a big help to both of us. It’s something a lot of people would want to see; I can tell you that.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.