CARSON, California – Jaron Ennis needed one more round than his previous fight, but one of boxing’s rising stars produced another impressive, quick knockout Saturday night.
The undefeated Philadelphia native knocked out previously unbeaten Custio Clayton with a right hand in the second round of their scheduled 12-round IBF welterweight elimination match at Dignity Health Sports Park. Ennis distracted Clayton with his jab, made him lean down and Ennis landed a right hand to the top and back of Clayton’s head.
Clayton struggled to get up, but he beat referee Ray Corona’s count. Once Corona instructed him to move away from him, Clayton stumbled into the ropes and Corona stopped the action at 2:49 of the second round.
“I’m just trying to perfect my craft and get better and better each and every time,” Ennis told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the ring. “And that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs, 1 NC) called out IBF/WBA/WBC welterweight champ Errol Spence Jr. after beating Clayton. Spence was seated ringside to watch him win the co-feature of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader that was headlined by 154-pound champions Brian Castano and Jermell Charlo, Spence’s stablemate.
The 34-year-old Clayton, a Nova Scotia native who represented Canada at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, lost for the first time in seven years as a pro (19-1-1, 12 KOs).
The only previous blemish on Clayton’s record was a 12-round majority draw with former IBF junior welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets in October 2020 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Ennis dominated Lipinets (16-2-1, 12 KOs) in his following fight, which Ennis won by sixth-round knockout in April 2021, also at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Before his knockout shot, Ennis backed up Clayton twice with left hands in the first half of the second round.
Clayton moved backward and remained in a defensive stance throughout the first round. By keeping his hands held high, Clayton kept Ennis from landing at his usual rate in the opening three minutes of their fight.
Ennis went southpaw toward the end of the first round, though, and landed a straight left hand.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.