WITH the biggest and most important fight in the welterweight division just three weeks away, Philadelphia’s Jaron “Boots” Ennis knew he had to tonight (July 8) deliver a performance eye-catching enough to ensure his name remains in the 147-pound conversation going forward. This he impressively achieved, too, by stopping the game but limited Roiman Villa in the 10th round and moving his professional record to 33-0 (28).
Dominant from the outset, the gifted and well-schooled American set about Villa as though he sensed this was his showcase opportunity and one he couldn’t pass up. Perhaps, while he currently knows and accepts his place in the welterweight pecking order, and concedes as well that Terence Crawford and Errol Spence are the consensus top two, Ennis is also well aware of the fact he is at, 26 years of age, considered very much the future of the thriving 147-pound division. Keep winning, after all, and especially in the manner in which he did tonight, and Ennis could very well be on track to take the baton from either Crawford or Spence, either by fighting and beating them, or simply taking over when their time inevitably comes to an end.
As for now, all Ennis can do is keep winning and keep impressing, just like he did this evening on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Sharp, and always ready to pull the trigger with an elaborate, dangerous counterpunch, there was never really any doubt that he was going to triumph over Villa, who was step behind him at all times, yet, in the end, it was the way in which Ennis brought the fight to a close, having already hammered Villa for much of it, that really caught the eye.
It arrived in round 10, this finish, and saw Ennis crack the onrushing Colombian with a hard left hand from the southpaw stance before then steadying him with a rapid-fire right hook immediately afterwards. Following that, one more left cross, this time glancing, sent Villa spiralling towards the canvas, at which point the referee, David Fields, waved the fight off without even bothering to administer a count.
By that stage, Villa, now 26-2 (24), was a beaten and battered man and Fields, like most watching both in the arena and at home, was looking for a cue, or simply an excuse, to end the brutality. The sight of Villa therefore collapsing to the deck – floored for the first time as a pro, no less – gave Fields the perfect opportunity to do what could and maybe should have been done a little earlier, in truth.
Ennis, the victor, won’t mind, of course. He secured the highlight reel finish he both craved and this month needed and will now have many viewing him as a peer of the likes of Crawford and Spence rather than merely the welterweight heir apparent or one for the future; a future in which Crawford and Spence may or may not feature. Because at 31-0, and with him having sauntered and swaggered his way to that number without so much as a trip, “Boots” might just be ready to run.