Boots Ennis wants only top-five contenders for his fight in January

Jaron Ennis celebrates his victory over Sergey Lipinets in April 2021. (Photo by Amanda Westcott / Showtime)

PHILADELPHIA — Bozy Ennis, the father and trainer of Jaron “Boots” Ennis, jokes that he’s been punching away so many letters to the sanctioning bodies on his keyboard that he’s suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Most recently, Bozy sent a letter on Monday petitioning the IBF to match Boots up with the sanctioning body’s No. 4 welterweight contender, Ukrainian Karen Chukhadzhian, who is based in Germany.

There had been talk in the rumor-filled world of boxing that Boots (29-0, 27 knockouts) would be fighting Rashidi Ellis next, on a Tank Davis undercard on Saturday, January 7, 2023. Bozy emphatically denied that. Ellis (24-0, 15 KOs) is ranked No. 9 in the current IBF ratings, while Boots is the No. 1-ranked welterweight; he is rated No. 3 by The Ring, behind IBF/WBA/WBC titlist Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22 KOs) and WBO titlist Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs).

“Why go backwards to face someone like Ellis?” said Bozy, who recently opened a new boxing gym in Philadelphia called Philly’s Next Champ/Bozy’s Dungeon on Grant Avenue. “We need to fight Spence, which isn’t going to happen, so we’ll fight for an interim title against Chukhadzhian. Whoever is in the top five, we’ll take. We’ve been begging for the top guys for years now. This is ridiculous, but it is boxing. We wanted (Keith) Thurman, who was moved along to the No. 1 spot in the WBC. Thurman wants no part of Boots. They put these mandatories out to create title fights and they’re not happening.

“This is the second letter I sent to the IBF. We have to get guys that are in our way. This guy (Chukhadzhian) is in our way. Rashidi Ellis is No. 9, so why go backwards? We offered Ellis money and he didn’t want to take the fight. A fighter is going to fight. It doesn’t matter who it is. We do know we’re supposed to be fighting on January 7, we just don’t know who yet. We’re training. We’re preparing. But we will not go backwards. We’re only fighting top five guys.”

When Spence-Crawford fight did not come to fruition, that spun off Boots’ schedule. Chukhadzhian (21-1, 11 KOs) is not the ideal opponent, but he would be a step closer.

“Spence-Crawford not fighting messed everything up,” Bozy said. “It affected all of us. It’s held everyone up at welterweight. It’s held up Boots, (Eimantas) Stanionis, Vergil (Ortiz Jr.), everyone is milling around wondering what to do and where to go. I’m lucky because Boots loves the gym and is always in there, staying busy. We have to watch over training. We only fought once this year, and the holdup was everything revolving around Spence-Crawford — and it wasn’t on the Spence side; it was the Crawford side.

“The whole thing probably put us back five, six months. Boots last fought in May. We don’t like taking that amount of time off. We’re not going backwards. Why? We’d like Stanionis, and I understand Errol Spence has nothing to gain by fighting Boots. I don’t blame Spence and Crawford for their attitude. It’s business. Boots is high risk, low reward.”

In many ways, considering the twisted, warped world of boxing, Boots suffers from a malady everyone in other sports would love to have: He’s too good.

“We understand,” Bozy said. “It doesn’t mean we like it. If I were Spence or Crawford, I wouldn’t fight Boots either. Spence said himself, Boots is the new ‘bogeyman.’ It’s just when Spence was coming up, no one was willing to fight him. Spence has earned his place. I won’t say anything negative about either Spence or Crawford, because what they got, they earned.”

The other welterweight scenario that plays out to benefit Boots, long term, is that when Spence and Crawford do fight, their next fight would be at 154. That would leave the door wide open for Boots at 147 to step in and win major titles.

“Boots then becomes king at 147,” Bozy said. “I have the Eagles playing here in Philly and they have a chance to play in the Super Bowl. In other sports, you play the best. Boxing is not the way it used to be. The business of this sport keeps repeating itself. You work hard to get to the top and the big money, and once you get there, everyone does the same things everyone before them did, and that’s to avoid the top young guys coming up.

“Boots has time. He’s 25. He’s coming. Boots deals with the frustration because he loves the sport. He’s in the gym all the time. If he isn’t training, he’s training someone else.”

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.


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