WASHINGTON – Jaron Ennis wasn’t especially pleased with his performance against Karen Chukhadzhian on Saturday night.
The undefeated Philadelphia native went off as a 35-1 favorite, but the unknown Ukrainian underdog extended Ennis to the 12-round distance for the first time in his career. Ennis (30-0, 27 KOs, 1 NC) shut out the reluctant Chukhadzhian by the same score, 120-108, on all three cards, but he wasn’t his usual destructive self as he chased Chukhadzhian around the ring on the Gervonta Davis-Hector Luis Garcia undercard at Capital One Arena.
Ennis hopes, however, that this forgettable performance will entice elite welterweights like Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford to fight him.
The 25-year-old Ennis won the IBF interim 147-pound championship by beating Chukhadzhian (21-2, 11 KOs) and is its mandatory challenger for one of Spence’s three championships. Ennis entered his fight with Chukhadzhian as the IBF’s number one contender for Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) and the WBO’s second-ranked challenger for the welterweight title owned by Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs).
“Maybe these boys will get in the ring now and fight me,” Ennis said during his post-fight press conference.
Derek “Bozy” Ennis, Jaron’s father and trainer, seconded his son’s statement.
“People are so used to seeing him knocking people out,” he said. “That’s what I’m saying. And they probably saying, ‘Oh, we got him now. He didn’t knock this guy out. He was supposed to knock this guy out.’ But how can you knock a guy out like that, that keep on running and didn’t wanna engage?”
The crafty Chukhadzhian knew engaging Ennis consistently would likely lead to a knockout defeat. The 26-year-old Kyiv native mostly moved out of Ennis’ punching range and occasionally connected with shots of his own that didn’t appear to affect Ennis.
Chukhadzhian’s caution made for a boring bout, yet Ennis admitted he should’ve done a better job of cutting off the ring.
The ambitious Ennis fought Chukhadzhian, who took a 20-fight winning streak into their bout, because he was the highest-rated available contender in the IBF’s rankings who was willing to face Ennis for its interim 147-pound championship. Afterward, Ennis expressed optimism about the prospect of finally securing a higher-profile fight later this year.
“I’m very excited to get back,” Ennis said. “You know, the goal is to get, you know, three fights this year. And we’ll definitely take, you know, Vergil Ortiz. You know, it don’t matter who it is. It could be Vergil Ortiz, Errol Spence, Bud [Crawford], Keith Thurman, [Yordenis] Ugas. Like I said before, I just wanna fight all the top guys and show the world like my real talent, and not these lower-class guys.”
Ennis’ father is also anxious for his son’s true talent to become evident versus top opponents.
“Y’all ain’t seen nothing yet,” the elder Ennis said. “Ain’t nobody really test him. I want everybody to see that he have been tested, so guys like Spence, Crawford and all that, let ‘em know that we right there with you. We on the same level, or maybe over that level.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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