UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Jaron Ennis isn’t interested in comparing himself to boxing’s other undefeated, 23-year-old rising star in the welterweight division.
When asked about Vergil Ortiz Jr. on Thursday, Philadelphia’s Ennis didn’t discuss the emerging knockout artist by name.
“I don’t worry about nobody else but myself,” Ennis said during a virtual press conference. “At the end of the day, I’m going in there to have fun, do what I do, and look good doing it, and bring home the knockout. But I’m an all-around fighter. We’re just two different fighters.”
Assuming the heavily favored Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs, 1 NC) defeats Sergey Lipinets on Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena, fans and media will continue comparing their trajectories as Ennis and Ortiz advance toward what could become the fight in the 147-pound division.
Derrick “Bozy” Ennis, Jaron’s father and trainer, understands the boxing public’s intensifying fascination with his son eventually opposing Ortiz (17-0, 17 KOs). He acknowledged during an interview with BoxingScene.com on Thursday that his son is taking the “exact same” step up in competition versus Lipinets that Ortiz took three weeks earlier against Maurice Hooker.
Kazakhstan’s Lipinets (16-1-1, 12 KOs) and Dallas’ Hooker (27-2-3, 18 KOs) both are former junior welterweight champions who entered these respective welterweight fights with once loss apiece on their records to then-unbeaten champions in the 140-pound division. Hooker tested Ortiz to an extent, before the heavy-handed Ortiz took control, wore down Hooker, scored two knockdowns and knocked him out in the seventh round March 20 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I think he did real good,” Derrick Ennis said of Ortiz. “He took a lot of shots, though, but he did real good. He came out and he did real good. Maurice Hooker is a good fighter and has been a champion of the world.”
Whereas his son hasn’t paid Ortiz much mind, Derrick Ennis is impressed with the Grand Prairie, Texas, native’s development.
“I think he’s a good fighter, man, and they’re bringing him along the right way,” Derrick Ennis said. “He got heart, a lot of heart, and he’s tough. I think he’s a good fighter.”
The elder Ennis paid attention to Ortiz’s comments about his son following Ortiz’s knockout of Hooker.
“I read a lot of the stuff Vergil said,” Derrick Ennis said. “He wouldn’t fight ‘Boots’ right now. He said way down the line it’d be a good pay-per-view fight, or something like that. Eventually, they’re gonna meet. Once they finish cleaning out the 147s, they gonna have to meet. If he keeps on winning and we keep on winning, that’s gonna be a hell of a pay-per-view fight down the line.”
A lot obviously could go wrong for Ennis and/or Ortiz to prevent them from reaching an event of that magnitude. Regardless, they have undoubtedly separated themselves from other young welterweights and most fighters their age in the entire sport.
That’s what makes Saturday night such an important moment for Ennis, who’ll headline a “Showtime Championship Boxing” broadcast for the first time. Lipinets is the most accomplished, dangerous opponent of the intelligent, multifaceted, powerful contender’s career.
“This is the type of fight that we need because he’s not no pushover,” Derrick Ennis said of Lipinets. “We respect him. We respect all fighters who get in that ring. You’ve gotta respect ‘em. We don’t talk bad about none of ‘em. We’ve just gotta go out there and do our thing, and win the fight. That’s what we came here for. Like I said, we don’t look past him. We’ve gotta get past him first.”
Derrick Ennis expects his son to put on a show Saturday night against the first highly ranked welterweight willing to fight him. He still respects Lipinets for taking a fight that other contenders have viewed as too much of a high-risk, low-reward endeavor to seriously consider.
“What it says about him is he’s a warrior,” Derrick Ennis said. “He comes to fight. He’s not like the rest of ‘em. He’s taking his chance. You know what I mean? A lot of the other guys didn’t wanna take a chance with fighting ‘Boots,’ because a lot of the top guys see it as a high-risk, low-reward type of thing. So, they didn’t take a chance. Like I said, we don’t look past nobody. We just come to put on a show and look good doing it. And then we’ll move on to the next.”
Jaron Ennis has described Lipinets’ style as “perfect” for him because the former IBF junior welterweight champion’s defensive deficiencies make him vulnerable at times.
“Lipinets can be dangerous if you stay there and let him hit on you,” Derrick Ennis said. “Then he’s dangerous. But we’re gonna box him. Remember this, we can fight inside and outside, so it doesn’t make a difference.”
Jaron Ennis envisions becoming the first opponent to knock out Lipinets, who has lost only a 12-round unanimous decision to four-division champion Mikey Garcia in March 2018. Garcia dropped Lipinets in the seventh round, but Lipinets recovered and finished their fight on his feet at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.
Before Ortiz knocked him out, Hooker had already been stopped by Ortiz’s stablemate, unbeaten WBC/WBO champ Jose Ramirez, in the sixth round of their 140-pound title unification fight in July 2019 at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.
Ortiz was regularly listed as a 12-1 favorite versus Hooker. Most online sports books have established Ennis as a 12-1 favorite against Lipinets, too.
Derrick Ennis hasn’t paid any attention to those lopsided odds as their 12-round main event nears.
“We’re not looking past Lipinets because he’s a good fighter,” Derrick Ennis said. “He wasn’t world champion for nothing.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.