Jaron Ennis was convinced as recently as a couple of weeks ago that he would fight Eimantas Stanionis next for the WBA’s secondary welterweight title.
It turns out that another young 147-pound knockout artist, Vergil Ortiz Jr., is more likely to get that opportunity. The WBA ordered a Stanionis-Ortiz purse bid Monday for December 12.
If representatives for Lithuania’s Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs, 1 NC) and Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs), of Grand Prairie, Texas, cannot come to an agreement before then, Stanionis would be entitled to a 75-25 purse split in accordance with the WBA’s rules. Ortiz, who is represented by Golden Boy Promotions, could turn down that championship chance if he isn’t satisfied with the purse he is offered to face Stanionis, who is affiliated with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs, 1 NC), who will box Ukraine’s Karen Chukhadzhian (21-1, 11 KOs) for the IBF interim welterweight title on January 7, will watch with interest as the Stanionis-Ortiz situation unfolds.
“I’m not too sure. [Ortiz] might take it because he’s young and hungry,” Ennis told BoxingScene.com. “Or he might try to go back to his team and try to get a little bit more money. We’ll see what happens.”
Philadelphia’s Ennis isn’t sure who will win if Stanionis and Ortiz fight next.
“That’s a great fight, two guys that come forward,” Ennis said. “Nobody’s gonna go backwards. That’s a 50-50 fight to me. I don’t know. I can’t pick a winner. That’s a good fight, though.”
The 25-year-old Ennis doesn’t have a preference who wins, as long as he gets a shot at whoever leaves the ring with the WBA world title.
“That’s another belt to collect and another undefeated guy on my resume,” Ennis said. “So, it don’t really matter to me who wins. They’re two great fighters, so it don’t really matter to me.”
As much as Ennis would welcome a bout against Stanionis, one of boxing’s most gifted fighters realizes Ortiz is the young welterweight boxing fans seemingly most want to see him box.
“If it was up to me, we’d be fighting next,” Ennis said. “People think that’s a big-time fight, so I definitely think that’s a big fight and I want it to happen. Let’s make it happen.”
Ennis instead has been forced to settle for a fight next month against an unknown opponent on the pay-per-view portion of the Gervonta Davis-Hector Luis Garcia undercard at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.
The 26-year-old Chukhadzhian has won 20 straight fights, though, and was the leading available contender to face Ennis for the IBF interim title.
Ennis is the IBF’s number one-ranked contender for Errol Spence Jr.’s welterweight title and has petitioned the IBF to force Spence to fight him or vacate that title. Chukhadzhian is rated fourth among the IBF’s welterweight contenders.
The second spot in the IBF’s 147-pound ratings is vacant. Ortiz is ranked third by the IBF, but he was already in position to challenge Stanionis.
“We thought we had Stanionis locked in,” Ennis said, “but then, you know, the WBA came out with their order for Stanionis and Ortiz. So, like I said, that messed up our plan. I thought I was gonna fight Stanionis.
“It was very disappointing because I was looking forward to beating someone that’s undefeated like that – a tough, durable guy. You know, me beating him, and doing it easy, would’ve been another big statement.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.