Rashidi Ellis eyes a Boots Ennis showdown after he beats Roiman Villa
His name would come up and the father-son/trainer-fighter team of Bozy and Jaron “Boots” Ennis would invariably roll their eyes and ask, “Why?”
Why fight 29-year-old welterweight Rashidi Ellis?
To Team Ennis, there was nothing in it for them. They viewed the undefeated fringe contender as more a step back than anything moving forward.
This Saturday, on the Gervonta Davis-Hector Garcia undercard, “Speedy” Ellis (24-0, 15 KOs) looks to change a few minds when he battles 29-year-old Venezuelan Roiman Villa (25-1, 24 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round welterweight bout on the Showtime/PBC Pay-Per-View event (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
If Ellis can beat Villa, he will set his sights on Ennis, who is also fighting on the Davis-Garcia undercard.
“It’s a good fight,” Ellis said, in reference to an Ennis-Ellis match sometime in the spring. “My goal for 2023 is to take over the welterweight division. I just can’t lose my focus. My main priority right now is (Villa).”
Ennis, the rising 25-year-old welterweight star from Philadelphia who is 29-0 with 27 knockouts, will be fighting undefeated Karen Chukhadzhian (21-1, 11 KOs) in a 12-round IBF title eliminator.
Ellis just came off a two-year layoff last July after parting with Golden Boy Promotions. Ellis stopped late-replacement journeyman Jose Marruffo in the first round, scoring two knockdowns, one coming from an overhand right, the other from a pulverizing left hook.
In Villa, he’s facing a volume puncher who likes to go to the body and can rattle opponents with his uppercut.
“I’m doing great, just getting ready for this fight,” said Ellis, who hails from Lynn, Massachusetts, and is trained by Alex Rivera. “Training camp has been good. I feel really strong and I’m ready. I was trying to move from a contract that laid me up for two years. I was still in the gym, grinding, sparring great fighters. I was still active. Mentally, I feel I’m better, I feel I’m physically stronger, and my skills are a lot better, too.
“Everyone is going to see what I’m able to do January 7. I know Villa is a strong fighter. He’s a fighter who comes forward and looks for the knockout all the time. I’ll stick and move and not play his game. That will be a big key for me, not getting pulled into what he does and keep my focus on what I have to do.”
In the time he was away from the ring, Ellis remained sharp, and it’s enabled him to break off the ring rust quickly. It also helps being in camp this time with fighters the caliber of Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade, the former 154-pound and middleweight titleholder who is also fighting on the Davis-Garcia undercard.
“It’s time to prove what I can do,” Ellis said.
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.
THE BUNDLES ARE BACK AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE)