Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis didn’t need a conclusive ending in his last fight to know he’s ready to advance to the next level.
The unbeaten rising welterweight will endure his toughest test to date, as the Philadelphia-bred talent will next face former 140-pound titlist Sergey Lipinets. A deal has been reached between the two camps for a terrific clash between top contenders on a Showtime card currently penciled in for April 10, BoxingScene.com has learned through sources from both sides.
The event will likely take place behind closed doors at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, where all but one Showtime-branded event has been staged since the pandemic. While both search for a shot at the “Big 4” titles (WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO), it is understood that the IBO welterweight strap will be at stake for the contest.
The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger was the first to report the bout being finalized.
A promising 2020 campaign ended in disappointment for Ennis, who had to setlle for a No Decision in a vacant IBO title fight with South African southpaw Chris van Heerden last December on Showtime. Ennis jumped out to a strong start before a clash of heads left van Heerden (28-2-1, 12KOs; 1ND) with a deep gash atop his forehead. The wound was severe enough to end the contest at just 2:39 of round one, ending Ennis’s run of 16 consecutive knockouts.
It hasn’t at all dampened the industry-wide enthusiasm surrounding Ennis (26-0, 24KOs; 1ND), nor has the 23-year old shied away from challenging the very best in 2021 and beyond.
“I’m ready for anybody in the Top 5. I don’t care,” Ennis previously told BoxingScene.com after his last bout. “I’m hungry. It’s my time now.
“Onto 2021, I’m taking over and I will be world champion. I’m ready to go to the next level. Let’s go.”
The next targeted opponent would indeed represent the next level.
Lipinets (16-1-1, 12KOs) comes in well-credentialed, having previously reigned as a junior welterweight titleholder. His lone loss came in a 12-round unanimous decision at the hands of then-unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant Mikey Garcia in March 2018. The 31-year old from Martuk, Kazakhstan—who is now based in California and trains with Joe Goossen—has since moved up to welterweight, where he is unbeaten in his last four starts.
Most notable among the lot was a 10th round stoppage of former two-division titlist Lamont Peterson in their March 2019 scorcher. However, the hard-hitting Kazakhstani was held to a draw versus unbeaten Custio Clayton in his most recent start. The bout came on short notice, as Lipinets trained for an interim welterweight title fight versus unbeaten Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, who was a late scratch due to an inability to secure a P1 visa which left him unable to make the trip from Malaysia to the United States.
Lipinets was still afforded a chance to fight for the interim IBF title, where a win would have positioned him as the mandatory challenger to reigning unified IBF/WBC welterweight titlist Errol Spence (27-0, 21KOs). Because of the draw verdict and the interim title unclaimed, Abdukakhorov remains the mandatory challenger in waiting.
Nevertheless, Ennis and Lipinets will have a chance to make a statement in a terrific matchup between perennial Top 10 contenders.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox