Although he’s been forced to bide his time on the sidelines, Jaron Ennis hasn't given up on his quest to become a full-fledged world champion. In just under two weeks, the rising contender and deleterious knockout puncher could move one step closer.
On January 7th, at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C., Ennis will officially square off against Karen Chukhadzhian with the winner being awarded the IBF interim crown. Nabbing that very trinket is consequential for the Philadelphia slugger as Errol Spence Jr., the welterweight division’s IBF, WBA, and WBC champion, will be given a firm deadline as to when he’ll have to defend his throne against the winner.
While he’s motivated to eventually face Spence, Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs) reveals that he’s keeping tabs on the soon-to-be-announced showdown between Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Eimantas Stanionis. Though still unofficial, the WBA sanctioning body ordered their secondary titleholder to make a mandatory defense against the hard-hitting Ortiz.
Shortly after their public decree, both sides entered purse bids with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions, the promotional banner in which Ortiz competes under, making the winning offer with a bid of 2.3 million.
With his brows raised in fascination, Ennis admits that, considering their stature and abilities, he's unable to pinpoint who will saunter into their showdown with the edge.
“That’s a good fight,” said Ennis to BoxingScene.com. “Honestly, that’s a 50/50 fight.”
Part of Ennis’ unwillingness to select a winner, stems from what could possibly be lying ahead. In the case of Stanionis, the Lithuanian snagged the WBA secondary title following his hard-fought win over Radzhab Butaev earlier this year. Although he was hopeful that such a victory would lead to a matchup against Spence, he’s been relegated to a bout against Ortiz, one that he acknowledges is both dangerous and well-needed.
In the case of Ortiz, a feeling of apprehension has swept over all of his rivals, resulting in a spotless record through 19 professional bouts. In his most recent trip to the ring, the 24-year-old rendered the normally sublime defensive capabilities of Michael McKinson extraneous, stopping the fringe contender in the ninth round on August 6th.
With the winner of Stanionis vs. Ortiz sitting in prime position to challenge for a full-blown title, Ennis is optimistic that whomever emerges victorious will give him an immediate call.
“Hopefully, whoever wins, I’ll get the winner. I really don’t care. I just wanna fight, beat people up.”
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