For Jaron Ennis, the actual fight is the easiest part of the whole experience.
More commonly going by “Boots”, the rising welterweight star has made everything look easy inside the ring – his comprehensive victories, his devastating knockout rate and his overwhelming natural power. He’s ruthless, suffocating his opponents and leaving no doubt as he builds one of the most dominant bodies of work across boxing. He enjoys every second of it, making it a priority to have fun on fight night and entertain all who watch. He’s flamboyant, becoming a must-watch with his style and charisma.
It all seems effortless for Ennis (28-0, 26 KO’s), whose flawless resume is next put to the test against Custio Clayton in an IBF welterweight title eliminator as the co-main event of the highly-anticipated Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano card Saturday night (9 p.m., Showtime).
It’s not as simple as Ennis makes it seem, however. It’s a whole persona he’s able to tap into on fight night.
“It’s weird, inside the ring, Boots is a whole different Boots than outside the ring Boots,” Ennis told The Post. “I don’t know, it’s just, when I get into the ring, a switch just flips on and it’s like, I don’t know, I just become a monster. I don’t know. And then outside of the ring I’m just chill, laid back, I like to have fun and chill with the family, and that’s about it. Two different people.”
Ennis’ ferocity dissipates outside the ring, overtaken by a subdued, soft-spoken aura. A gym rat raised by a boxing family, Ennis admits to being a homebody in his personal life and a “nerd” of the sport. He has few interests outside of his craft, dedicating nearly all his attention and energy on a sport he’s known since his youngest days.
All of his Ennis’ success brews in these unglamorous moments and environments. It’s no coincidence that when he is center stage, it’s so easy for him.
At 24 years old, the Philadelphia native is at the center of the next generation of fighters looking to take over the sport.
One of the most technically-gifted fighters in boxing at the moment, Ennis recently signed a multi-fight contract with Showtime and is expected to soon be one of the network’s main faces. He has not lost a single round of the 77 rounds he’s fought in his career, and has knocked his last 10 opponents down a combined 20 times. He became the first to stop former world champion Sergey Lipinets, and has knocked out 18 of his last 19 opponents –the only blemish being a no contest with Chris van Heerden after the two accidentally collided heads. He has supposed to have been challenged with his recent bouts, but he’s yet to be bothered throughout his professional career.
Neither is he bothered by the fact that many of the division’s top fighters avoid him. He is one of the top title contenders in every single ranking, and knows a win against Clayton, who is in the top-10 in most rankings, will leave him ready – and deserving – of a desired title opportunity. Ennis guarantees a win, and promises to steal the show on one of the most heavily-anticipated cards of the year. Once that’s accomplished, there will be little left for him to prove to be ready for a title shot. He eyes a potential matchup with the winner of the likely long-awaited Errol Spence-Terrence Crawford undisputed world title fight. If his plan goes to plan, that would provide him the chance to become undisputed champion himself.
Fully cognizant of the rich boxing history his city holds, Ennis is the highest-acclaimed competitor Philadelphia currently has in boxing, and has a chance to join the all-time company of Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins, and so many other greats.
“We’ve just got that different type of heart, that different type of grit,” Ennis said. “We always find a way to win, and that’s the main thing. I just want to continue to keep putting on for this city. Bring back all the belts to the city and make Philly the boxing town again.”
Beyond accolades in the ring, most fighters in today’s boxing landscape are obsessed with earning pay-per-view bouts, becoming superstars outside the ring and growing their brand and name beyond the sport – pathways to the greatest financial rewards.
When asked about not just being one of the sport’s best fighters, but becoming a lucrative and recognizable superstar, Ennis grinned as he sat up in his seat. He’s every bit as obsessed with becoming a superstar.
His version of a superstar, that is.
“You’ve got to do things for the community and stuff like that too,” Ennis said. “It’s not just about only boxing. It’s about other things bigger than boxing. Helping the kids, people that are injured, or are sick, or things like that, that’s how you become a superstar, and that’s the things I’ve been working on and been doing.”
Recently, Ennis befriended Jackson Ramirez, a 14-year-old fan of his with IPEX syndrome, a rare genetic disease that requires bone marrow transplant. Because of his background, finding a match is incredibly difficult, but Ennis has now taken on the challenge of raising awareness for Ramirez and the cause. They’ve spent much time together, and the two plan on celebrating Ennis’ potential win with pizza.
“This fight is basically for him, and all other kids that have the same thing that he has,” Ennis said. “It’s about the kids and making the kids feel good about themselves, and to hopefully save lives.”
If it’s like anything else in his career, Ennis will make it all look easy.