Jaron Ennis: Boots Just Wants to Have Fun

Undefeated welterweight contender Jaron “Boots” Ennis says he plans to “have fun” in his fight with once-beaten opponent Roiman Villa at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night.

The 26-year-old Ennis (30-0, 27 KOs) is one of the most hyped young fighters in the game today, but after a string of 19 straight knockout victories he was taken the distance for the first time since 2017 when forced to go the full 12 rounds against Karen Chukhadzian in January. Ennis was dominant, winning every round on all three judges’ scorecards, but given the superlatives that have been thrown in his direction, the performance felt underwhelming. And while much of the blame for that rests on Chukhadzian’s decision to avoid contact and seek only to survive for all but the first few rounds, Ennis says his own approach to the contest was at fault as well. 

“I feel like I was rushing a little bit,” he explained on the Showtime Boxing Podcast on Monday. “Rushing and looking for that big shot. This fight, we’re back to having fun, not looking for it, just letting it come to me. I know it’s gonna come. Just got to be patient, that’s all.” If he were granted a do-over against Chukhadzian, he said, he would be “taking my time a little more, being a bit more relaxed, jabbing, starting to the body early, not waiting until the second half to start working to the body. Little things like that. But that’s what we have these fights for, to get better, to look back and reflect.”

In contrast to Chukhadzian, Villa (26-1, 24 KOs) is an aggressive, action fighter, who flashed his power on the undercard of Ennis’ fight in January, dropping Rashidi Ellis twice in the final round to eke out a majority decision win. 

Ennis says he isn’t feeling any pressure to begin a new knockout streak but is confident that a stoppage will come. And he has a very specific picture of the kind of stoppage he wants. 

“There’s no pressure here,” he said. “Every time I go in there looking to have fun, I go home with a knockout. I’ve got to have fun and stay relaxed. We’re going to have fun and put on a show. I really want to beat him up and break him down. I want his team to throw the towel in because it’s going to be too much of an onslaught. I want to put on a beautiful show. I want to showcase my skills and be sharp. Beat him up, rip him up, break him down.”