The City of Brotherly Love was Question-crazed circa 1996, but we could be witnessing the takeover of ‘Boots’
Okay, so many of us across the country were crazy about those red- and blue-tipped Reebok basketball sneakers.
A few weekends ago, this writer sat down to enjoy a ShoBox: The New Generation triple-header, mainly looking to check out a well-matched battle between Midwestern Super Lightweight prospects Montana Love and Kenneth Sims Jr. Notes were jotted down for that fight, as well as the Mattice vs Hamazaryan bout and it’s heinous decision.
Then Hall of Famers Steve Farhood and Barry Tompkins, along with Raul Marquez, set the stage for the feature bout, with all three of the veterans being unusually effusive in their high praise of Jaron “Boots” Ennis – Philadelphia’s 21-year-old 5-foot 10-inch Welterweight.
After the third-round TKO of previously unbeaten Armando Alvarez the notebook sat opened on the couch, one cushion over, with only two lines written.
“Ennis vs. Alvarez (Welterweights)”
Ennis moved around the ring like Allen Iverson darting through the Arkansas Razorback’s vaunted “60 Minutes of Hell” full-court pressure defense in his first collegiate basketball regular season game. The 6-foot 1-inch Alvarez immediately began to struggle with Ennis’ foot speed and shifty movements. By the second round Ennis was completely into his own rhythm, flashing a lightning first step as he began to look like Iverson shaking Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Terrell Brandon. He effortlessly quickly shifted laterally in both directions to land punishing long range body shots on Alvarez’s unprotected mid-section. You didn’t really expect a comparison of Alvarez to MJ getting shook at the top of the key, now did you?
Ennis landed 46 percent of his power shots, and in just under nine minutes of fighting he led 35-8 in body connects. The fascinating detail was that his body attack looked nothing like a feared body puncher like the Welterweight division’s IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. Spence’s attack is more methodical. It’s well-ordered and often delivered in crisp, disciplined combinations as he stalks his opponents with both fighters squared up, typically. Spence’s momentum and punishment normally forces his opponents into the ropes where he unloads to the body even more fiercely.
Ennis’ body work is achieved by feinting and quick changes of direction that make his opponent adjust, get off-balance or become uncovered. Now, Ennis is accomplishing this versus other prospects like Alvarez, and twenty other guys not many of us have heard of nationally. Spence is snatching the body’s of former world champions and challengers. So, Ennis does actually have his own Questions. Several of them.
How’s his chin?
How will he perform late in a fight?
How does he look against higher or equally skilled fighters?
Every impressive prospect has to answer these questions or pass these tests on their way into contention.
However, the youngster who hails from a family of fighters – his ShoBox debut was the third appearance by an Ennis – is probably going to continue to blow through other accomplished prospects. And, he could find himself matched up against some more familiar faces within a year – if not later this year.
Ennis probably shouldn’t be thrown in against a Yordenis Ugas, but he probably embarrasses an Egidijus Kavaliauskas. A fighter who recently got found out, but was just calling out Terence Crawford. Ennis versus Jamal James in late-2018, isn’t completely out of the question.
Boxing has a cruel way of revealing what and who each and every fighter is, at some point. Determining the right pacing for Ennis is going to be a tough task for the kid and his handlers. At least the next time he’s in action on television, this writer won’t be in such awe, and some notes can get taken.
Iverson was the first underclassmen to leave early under legendary Big East coach John Thompson. Fortunately for boxing, we get to watch Ennis prove that he’s good enough to stay.
All photos by Rosie Cohe/Showtime