Tuesday, October 03, 2023  |



Ring Magazine Q&A: Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis

Fighters Network

The following article is part of The Ring’s Summer Special previewing the Spence-Crawford undisputed welterweight championship. Pre-order the limited-edition print issue at The Ring Shop. Subscribers can read the digital edition here; or the pdf format here.



He has been christened the future of boxing for some time now. Jaron “Boots” Ennis, however, does not pay much attention to talk and media hype. The Ring’s No. 3-rated welterweight, who recently turned 26, is simply waiting patiently for his marquee fight to prove what he already knows – that he’s the best of the deepest division in the sport.

Ennis (30-0, 27 knockouts) certainly fits the criteria. He is a boxing lifer, the sport embedded in his DNA by his father, trainer and manager, the renowned Derek “Bozy” Ennis, who is nearing 70 and is in better shape than most men half his age. »

Go to any small club show in the Philadelphia area, and you will undoubtedly see Bozy accompanied by Boots and the rest of the Ennis family (including two older brothers, who, like their father, are former professional boxers). When Boots is not training himself, he is often training other fighters. He wraps his own hands. He has been known to sneak into his North Philly gym at 2 or 3 in the morning by himself to get in some added work.

The Ennis family loves the sport. It’s why Boots is so good. He has been practically wearing boxing gloves since birth.

On Saturday, July 8, Boots is scheduled to face Roiman Villa (26-1, 24 KOs), in what can be called a hometown fight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It headlines a PBC event on Showtime.

Ennis and Villa both appeared on the Gervonta Davis-Hector Luis Garcia undercard in January at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Villa was impressive, upsetting the previously unbeaten Rashidi Ellis. Ennis, on the other hand, received some criticism in going 12 rounds for the first time in his career while easily beating Ukrainian Karen Chukhadzhian.

Chukhadzhian lasted the distance with Boots but was dominated. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

To his credit, Ennis pitched a shutout, winning 120-108 on all three scorecards. Yet, the standard that he has set for himself is so high, anything less than a knockout seems to be unacceptable to the boxing cognoscenti. Chukhadzhian did more running than fighting, and Ennis, for the first time as a pro, had to deal with a small taste of derision.

“I did learn a lot from that fight,” Boots admitted. “But the other stuff, the outside stuff, I never really paid any attention to that. No one is going to be harder on me than I am on myself. Let people, let the media say what it wants to say. I knew there was talk after the [Chukhadzhian] fight.

“I didn’t know exactly what it was. But again, the only one I have to please in that ring is myself. And I’m never pleased.”

It is why Boots keeps ascending.

Looming in a big welterweight July is the Spence-Crawford showdown. They will meet for the vacant Ring Magazine welterweight title and to become the first undisputed welterweight champion in the four-belt era. Ennis made no commitment to whether he would be ringside for the actual fight, but he made certain to let The Ring know in this Q&A that he is ready and waiting in the wings for the winner.

The Ring: What are you hoping to show in your July 8 return against Villa?

Jaron Ennis: I’m going to show everyone my skills. Villa is a pressure fighter and he is tailor-made for me.

Ring: In your last fight, and I mean this as a compliment, the bar is so high with you that anything less than a knockout seems like a defeat. In the Chukhadzhian fight, you won every round, yet to hear the talk ringside, I couldn’t tell if you won or lost. Did you hear the criticism?

Fans were so used to watching Jaron Ennis score dazzling KOs that when Chukhadzhian took him 12 rounds in January, some criticized “Boots” for his performance. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

JE: People say what they want to say. People said I couldn’t go 12 rounds; they question if I have a chin. People don’t know what they want. I could fight a brick wall and knock it down, and someone will still have something to say. With me, I really don’t care what people say. I don’t go on social media. I don’t really pay attention. As long as I’m winning, I don’t care. At the end of the day, the media, social media, people out there talking, they’re not the ones putting their lives on the line and getting in that ring. I am. So it really doesn’t matter what anyone says. I’m going to keep grinding and keep doing what I do and get these belts.

Ring: Were you satisfied with your last fight?

JE: I was satisfied going 12 rounds. That was it. There were a lot of things that I could have done better. I have another fight lined up with Villa and I’m going to show that I am a perfectionist. I raise my own bar. I never think I look good. I’m always looking to get better.

Ring: What could you have done better in your last fight?

JE: I should have been more patient, jabbed more, done more body work. I was chasing him too much. I should have taken my time and walked him down.

Ring: Will you go out to Spence-Crawford on July 29?

JE: I don’t know. My main priority as we’re talking right now is my fight on July 8.

Ring: You feel the winner still has to go through you, right?

JE: That’s right. The winner has to go through me. … My priority at 147 is to get all the top belts, then move to 154 and do the same thing. My attitude hasn’t changed. I want the top guys, and Spence and Crawford are the top guys. 

“I raise my own bar. I never think I look good. I’m always looking to get better.”

Ring: Any thoughts on Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Eimantas Stanionis, who will be fighting on the same night as you?

JE: That’s a good fight. May the best man win. I have to do my thing, and I’ll hopefully get the winner of Spence-Crawford or Stanionis-Ortiz. I’ll be ready for anyone they put in front of me. I know whoever it is, they can’t beat me. I’m not really about the talking. My hands will do the talking. When I put my hands on you, that’s when I do my talking. I don’t need to hype myself up before fights with talk. I know what I can do. Like I said, I’ll let my hands do the talking.

Ring: It seems like you pay a price for being too good. It’s both a compliment and a curse that the top guys don’t want to fight you because you are a big risk to them. Is that what you feel?

JE: I do. But I love boxing. It’s why [the politics don’t] bother me. It is hard to beat something you love. I love boxing. I’m always in the gym. It’s why I’ve been patient with the politics. Boxing is like a second home to me. I have a great team around me. Cameron (Dunkin) is still involved. I have Showtime. And I have boxing. I guess I may follow in my dad’s footsteps and take up after my dad as a trainer. I’m training guys now. I work with all the guys my dad works with. I’ll probably be in (Andy) Cruz’s corner on July 15 after my fight. I know guys fight for the money; I don’t have a problem with those guys. It’s what they do. But guys that love what they do, you can’t beat guys like us. It’s why I want to fight two, three more times before the end of the year.

Ring: And right now, you and Stephen “Scooter” Fulton are the face of Philadelphia boxing. That means something to you, doesn’t it?

JE: It means a lot to me. It means I come from a great tradition of Philly fighters, like B-Hop (Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins), Danny Garcia, J-Rock (Julian Williams), and now myself and Scooter. I know I have the faith of Showtime and the people there. I would love to have a fight in Philly in the future at the Wells Fargo Center, with me and Scooter headlining the card. Scooter has two belts and he’s not going to surprise me when he beats (Naoya) Inoue. He’s bigger and stronger than Inoue. Scooter may shock the world when he wins, but he’s not going to shock me, because I know he’s going to win.

Ring: So, I have to ask again: Will we see you ringside for Spence-Crawford?

JE: We’ll see. I still have to do my part. I have more work to do, and those guys know I’m out here, whether I’ll be ringside or not for that fight. They know I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. They know they’re going to have beat me.

Ring: I don’t know if you can beat Spence or Crawford. But I don’t know if they can beat you either.

JE: They can’t.

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.