Karen Chukhadzhian understands that he’ll encounter undoubtedly the most dangerous opponent of his career Saturday night.
Jaron Ennis is listed by Caesars Sportsbook as a 40-1 favorite over Chukhadzhian because the undefeated Philadelphia native possesses an uncommon combination of intelligence, power, skill, speed and athleticism. Chukhadzhian has won 20 straight fights, including each of his last four bouts by knockout, but none of those men remotely resemble the 25-year-old Ennis, who is touted as one of boxing’s rising stars.
As daunting as this assignment is perceived to be, Ukraine’s Chukhadzhian felt that this opportunity to fight for the IBF interim welterweight title is a potentially career-changing chance that he couldn’t pass up. Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs, 1 NC) and Chukhadzhian (21-1, 11 KOs) are set to square off in Showtime Pay-Per-View’s co-feature before Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis (27-0, 25 KOs) and Dominican southpaw Hector Luis Garcia (16-0, 10 KOs, 1 NC) meet in the 12-round main event at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. ($74.99; 9 p.m. ET).
“I’m going to [the] U.S. not to get a paycheck,” Chukhadzhian said during a recent virtual press conference, according to his translator. “I’m going to [put up] a good fight. And I will not give up until I will do it.”
Ennis is the IBF’s number one-ranked welterweight contender. Chukhadzhian is rated fourth, but he was the leading available contender to face Ennis because the second spot in the IBF’s rankings is vacant and third-rated Vergil Ortiz Jr. (19-0, 19 KOs) will challenge WBA world welterweight champ Eimantas Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs, 1 NC) next.
Chukhadzhian is virtually unknown among American boxing fans, but the Karlsruhe, Germany resident expects to make a positive impression in his U.S. debut.
“First of all, I’d like them to be satisfied from the fight that they will see,” Chukhadzhian said. “And also, I am planning to do a surprise as well, so this is the second point that I would like to highlight. I want them to be surprised at the end.”
Ennis, whose handlers have had trouble enticing top welterweights to fight him, is thankful Chukhadzhian wasn’t as reluctant as most 147-pound contenders to embrace this tough task.
“We gonna see what he brings to the table,” Ennis said. “You know, I’m just gonna go in there and have fun, and be smooth. You know, I ain’t gonna look for him. Have fun, be smooth, put on a show. You know, my time is now. I’m ready to have some fun, you know, and come out with this victory, you know, and do it in a dominating fashion. That’s by winning by knockout. And I appreciate him, you know, for taking this fight. … Some people wouldn’t [take the fight], and I appreciate that. And now it’s time to work. It’s time to eat.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.
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