EXCLUSIVE: Boots Ennis talks about becoming the IBF welterweight titlist, future plans, responds to critics
PHILADELPHIA, PA — Anyone who knows Jaron “Boots” Ennis and his father, trainer and manager, the reputable Bozy Ennis, knows this is not the way they wanted it. They are both as dusty, sweaty, old-school as they come. The undefeated Philadelphia welterweight and his sage father did not want to win any belt the way it was handed to them by the IBF last week, and they both made that known to The Ring.
The No. 2-rated welterweight by The Ring, Boots (31-0, 28 knockouts) was awarded the IBF 147-pound title, elevated from the “interim” status, when Ring Magazine welterweight world champion Terence Crawford was stripped of the title by the IBF for not arranging to fight his mandatory challenger Ennis. Crawford became the undisputed welterweight and Ring Magazine world champion with his ninth-round demolition of Errol Spence Jr. in July.
Boots now has plans on making his first title defense against WBC interim titlist Mario Barrios sometime early next year, possibly in February.
The Philly-based Boots, one of the most talented fighters in the world today under 30, has been big-name hunting for years, hoping to get Crawford, Spence, or Keith Thurman in the ring. But Boots was also in the quandary of being too good for his own good. None of those name fighters were willing to take the chance against the talented Ennis, while larger, more lucrative fights were out there.
Now that Boots finally has a belt he is counting on name opponents coming to him.
Bud had opportunities to fight me ( & still do ! ) but you rather them strip you & give me the title instead of me taking it from you cause you don’t wanna fight me that bad. That stunt you pulled see through lol
— Boots (@JaronEnnis) November 16, 2023
“I wanted to win this in the ring, and I wanted to earn this with my hands, definitely, and I did not expect to get the title like that,” Boots said. “I wanted to fight Spence, then Crawford beat Spence, and I wanted to fight Crawford. I want to fight and beat the best. I never got my chance to show it. It’s not the way I wanted it. It was out of my hands. It was out of my control. I’m not about to give it back, because people have to fight me. I have something these guys want and I’m always ready to fight.
“It’s boxing. Politics get in the way. Some people may point a finger at me. Why don’t they point a finger at Crawford, or Spence, or any of the guys who I did not want to fight me? I was a mandatory for two years. This is my time. Point at the guys who didn’t want to fight me. It was out of my hands and nothing I can do. It’s the same situation that happened to (WBO junior middleweight titlist) Tim Tszyu. No one called him a ‘paper champion.’ I could care less what people have to say. All I do is train and handle my business. I have my fighter, Ismail ‘The Chef’ Muhammad, who I’m preparing and stay ready.”
Boots has received some criticism by social media dolts on how he won the title.
“There are a lot of idiots out there, you know that, people who don’t know the sport of boxing,” Bozy said. “This is really not the way I wanted it, and Boots feels the same. Getting a world title belt like this does not feel the same. We wanted to win it in the ring. I am glad that we have it. Was wanted Spence, and he did not want to fight us. Crawford won, and he did not want to fight us. It is great we have it, but we are not exactly glad how we got it. We have been waiting two years for this. We wanted to win this in the ring. We still do not have the belt right now. We have the title.
“This was something that was coming for a month now. (IBF president) Daryl Peoples sent me a text a month ago. We could not say anything public. When the IBF went public, that’s when I found out it was official. Don’t talk to us about the way we got that belt. Complain to the people who did not want to fight us. Those are people who do not know boxing. Boots is not an email champ. Hard work got us here. Crawford’s fanboys are the ones saying Boots is an email champ. If Crawford wants that belt, he can fight Boots for it.
“Boots is really mad that he did not fight for the title.”
Bozy laid out the plans for Boots next year. Bozy said Cody Crowley (22-0, 9 KOs), The Ring’s No. 6-ranked welterweight, was supposed to fight Boots, but he opted out. The target now is Barrios and there is a possibility it may occur.
“Everyone is chasing us now, and we have someone who is going to fight Boots, Mario Barrios,” Bozy said. “The winner of our fight with Barrios and the Eimantas Stanionis-Thurman fight would fight some time in the middle of next year. Our goal is to make the first title defense in February against Barrios. We don’t know where the fight would be, but we have great respect for Barrios. He is the only one willing to step up and fight us. I like Mario Barrios inside and outside the ring, he’s a true fighter. He’s a class act.”
Boots and Bozy both said that nothing has really changed since being bestowed the IBF belt.
“You should fight for titles, but we deserve it and we put all kinds of messages out,” Bozy said. “It was out of our hands. Now it’s in our hands. Whoever wants that IBF belt, they are going to have to fight Boots for it. We’ve been waiting for years for this.”
Barrios told The Ring he is very willing to fight Boots.
“There are talks out there and fighting Boots is one of the options,” Barrios said. “I wouldn’t mind going to New York, if that is where the fight takes place. I want to fight the best. Boots has the same attitude. He wants to fight the best. Let’s do it. At least someone out there with a title is willing to fight.”
Joseph Santoliquito is hall of fame, 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.