By Francisco Salazar
Except for those living in the Philadelphia area, most boxing fans have come to know Jaron Ennis through word of mouth or grainy cell phone and YouTube videos.
Ennis will now introduce himself to more boxing fans on a bigger state Friday night, hoping it is the first of several times he will fight on a premium platform.
Ennis will square off against Armando Alvarez in a battle of unbeaten welterweights tonight at the WinnaVegas Casino and Resort in Sloan, Iowa. The 10 round bout will headline a 'ShoBox' telecast on Showtime (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
Since making his pro debut in April of 2016, Ennis (20-0, 18 knockouts) has fought often, including nine times in 2017. Tonight will mark his fourth fight this year.
Ennis and his team, which includes longtime promoter Chris Middendorf, felt fighting often would be better for him in the long run.
"The plan has always been to fight as often as possible," Ennis told Boxingscene.com on Thursday afternoon. "It helps me stay sharp and I believe I've gotten better from it."
"If there are things that I've improved on, it is sitting down more on my punches. I'm also a lot more clam and relaxed in the ring."
Sitting down more on his punches and his improved skill-set have translated to many more knockout victories of late. Ennis, who just turned 21 years of age last month, has stopped his last 10 opponents, including former contender Mike Arnaoutis in his last bout on June 1.
Ennis will face his tougher opponent to date on paper in Alvarez (18-0, 12 KOs), who has stopped six of his last seven opponents. Like any opponent, Ennis will go into the fight relying on what his team tells him, including his father, Derek Ennis.
"I didn't watch any tape of him, or my opponents," said Ennis. "I let my team do that. I don't watch tape because maybe they won't fight the same in the ring as what you see in videos. I'll just adjust when I'm in the ring."
Ennis' team also includes his older brothers, who were also prizefighters. Derek and Farah Ennis accumulated modest records and a handful of regional title belts.
Besides his father, his brothers act as his other trainers and mentors, considering what they have gone through in their careers, which includes appearances on ESPN2 and Showtime.
"They tell me to stay prepared and to always be ready for anything. They remind me to stay focused and to have fun in the ring."
Including Jaron, all three siblings were born and raised in Philadelphia. With the likes of Danny Garcia, Gabriel Rosado, and Tevin Farmer also representing the city as contenders and world titleholders as of late, Ennis wants to continue carrying the torch of representing the 'City of Brotherly Love,' which includes being aggressive and having a fan-friendly style.
"It means a lot to me to represent my hometown. I just want to put on a show for my hometown."
"I do want to make a statement in this fight. I want people to know there's a young killer in the welterweight division. I'm young, I'm getting better, and I'm going to be at 147 pounds for a long time.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing