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Jaron Ennis steps up after shocking weigh in assault

Jaron Ennis
Stephanie Trapp/Showtime
Jaron Ennis makes the most of unexpected headlining opportunity, writes Sean Nam

WHEN life, even by the most heinous of circumstances, hands you a lemon, well, you squeeze it tight until only the bitterest dregs remain.

Uber welterweight talent Jaron Ennis was never meant to headline at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center, but when the opportunity arose out of the blue, he made sure to make the most of it. In quick, concerted fashion, the 22-year-old Philadelphian southpaw dispatched Argentine Demian Fernandez inside three breezy rounds of a 10-rounder.

While Ennis may have only been served one soft touch after another so far in his nascent career — and this was no exception to that — he has made sure to dispense with his hapless opponents with appropriate derision. Only two of the 24 opponents on Ennis’ ledger have heard the final bell.

From the opening bell, Ennis was in high gear, aggressively attacking Fernandez to the body to the point that he picked up two low-blow warnings from referee Frank Garza in the process. The slickster switched from southpaw to orthodox with natural ease, as he tormented Fernandez with an array of fluid combinations.      

In the third round, the speedy Ennis rattled a series of unanswered punches that forced Fernandez to take a knee. Though he beat the count, Fernandez began motioning at his right eye, asking, in effect, for the fight to be stopped. The official time was 2-10.

The hope is that Ennis begins fighting stiffer competition soon, but he may have to take care of his out-of-the-ring issues before his opposition improves. Ennis has been embroiled in a protracted lawsuit regarding his promotional status since the spring.

Originally, the main event was supposed to feature hometown native and unified middleweight titleholder Clarissa Shields against Ivana Habazin in a super-welterweight title bout. But the day before at the weigh-in, a gruesome altercation occurred between Habazin’s trainer, James Bashir Ali, and a member from Shields’ entourage that left Ali bleeding from the mouth and being taken on a stretcher to the hospital.

Accounts from reporters who were at the fight describe the incident as a “sucker punch” to the back of Ali’s face, and which appeared to have been instigated by trashtalking that went on earlier between Ali and Shields’ sister.

Shields’ manager Mark Taffet said Ali underwent surgery and is expected to have another operation on his jaw. After some deliberation, the fight was summarily cancelled after it was clear that the incident left Habazin, of Zagreb, Croatia, in no mental condition to get in the ring, the loss of her head trainer notwithstanding. It is not clear if the fight — already postponed once due to a Shields injury — will be rescheduled for the future.

Dmitry Salita, Shields’ promoter, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

On the Salita Promotions undercard, heavyweight prospect Jermaine Franklin scored two knockdowns on his way to earning a clear-cut, if sloppy, unanimous points victory over Czech Republic’s Pavel Sour in a 10-rounder. Judges scored the bout 97-91 (Pasquale Procopio) and 98-90 twice (Dan Graschuck, Benoit Roussel). Ansel Stewart refereed.

Billed by his handlers as the next great talent to come out of the American Midwest, the Saginaw, Michigan native has so far been unimpressive in his professional career. He looked better this time around, scoring knockdowns in round six and 10 and landed his left hook at will.

Sour was game, however, especially in the middle rounds, when he had his moments roughing up Franklin. Ultimately, Franklin, the younger fighter by 11 years, took control in the final rounds.

Ja’Rico O’Quinn, a 24-year-old super-flyweight, dropped fellow Detroiter James Smith in an action-packed fight en route to a 10-round unanimous decision. Scores were identical: 96-93 (Robert Hecko, Roussel, Procopio) for O’Quinn. Gerald White refereed.

Glasgow’s Hannah Rankin, in her first fight under the Salita Promotions banner, opened the show with a dominant points victory over Erin Toughill in a six-round middleweight bout that was never in doubt from the start. All three judges (Katealia Chambers, Hecko, Roussel) scored it exactly the same, 60-54, in favor of Rankin. Garza refereed.

The Verdict Ennis’ performance was overshadowed by the shocking weigh-in assault.

RESULTS
Jaron Ennis (146 1/4lbs), 24-0 (22), w rsf 3 Demian Fernandez (146 1/2lbs), 12-2 (5); Jermaine Franklin (231 1/4lbs), 20-0 (13), w pts 10 Pavel Sour (238lbs), 11-1 (6); Jacob Bonas (148 1/2lbs), 4-0-1 (2), w pts 4 Norfleet Stitts (150lbs), 1-4; Ja’Rico O’Quinn (114 1/2lbs) 13-0-1 (8), w pts 10 James Smith (114 1/2lbs), 13-3 (7); Hannah Rankin (152 3/4lbs), 8-3 (1), w pts 6 Erin Toughill (154 3/4lbs), 7-5-1; Robert Simms (198 3/4lbs), 10-3 (3), w pts 6 Demetrius Banks (192lbs), 10-9-1 (5); Izim Izbaki (240lbs), 3-0 (2), w rsf 1 Troy Albring (225lbs), 0-3.

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