Jaron “Boots” Ennis will finally be a world champion this summer, but it will be via fiat rather than knockout, according to his chief handler.
Ennis, the highly regarded 25-year-old welterweight contender from Philadelphia, became the interim beltholder for the IBF after he outpointed Karen Chukhadzhian last month at Capitol One Arena in Washington D.C. on the undercard of the Gervonta Davis-Hector Luis Garcia lightweight bout. The win essentially secured Ennis a shot at the legitimate titlist of the sanctioning organization, Errol Spence Jr., who also holds the WBA and WBC 147-pound belts.
Only, don’t expect the two to actually duke it out in the ring anytime soon.
Cameron Dunkin, the promoter of Ennis, says his charge will be elevated to full champion status without having to throw a punch because he believes Spence intends to vacate his belt.
“Boots is the interim champion now,” Dunkin told BoxingScene.com. “Spence, he’s obligated to fight him in 90 days.
“So, we’re gonna fight for the title, and then [the question will be] will be, does he (Spence) want to fight.’ And [the answer is], no, he will vacate [his belt], and Boots will automatically become regular champion and we’ll defend our title probably in June.”
Dunkin maintained that he thinks Spence’s days at 147 are now numbered.
“No, (he won’t fight Ennis), no,” Dunkin said. “I think he’s going to ’54. I don’t think they want Boots at all.
“At ’54 it’s perfect for the other guy (Spence). I think they’re setting up a big fight with Spence against [154-pound undisputed champion Jermell] Charlo—yes, even though they have the same trainer (Derrick James). I think so. It’s a weird business we’re living in now. Spence doesn’t really want to make ’47 anymore.”
Spence will reportedly fight Keith Thurman in a junior middleweight bout in the spring without having to give up his titles.
The 32-year-old Spence and native of Desoto, Texas, would then have a full slate of mandatory obligations to fulfill. WBA head Gilberto Mendoza told ESPN that Spence would have 60 days upon the Thurman fight to close a deal with WBO titlist Terence Crawford for the undisputed welterweight championship; but if that fails to materialize, Spence would then have to fight the winner of the WBA interim contest between Vergil Ortiz and Eimantas Stanionis set for April 29 at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.
Dunkin said he had an encouraging meeting with Showtime Sports head Stephen Espinoza recently on planning Ennis’ next steps; Ennis’ last several fights have been featured on the premium cable network. But it was clear from their conversation, according to Dunkin, that Spence would not factor into Ennis’ immediate future.
“When I talked to Espinoza, he said he’s giving me a list of opponents and Spence wasn’t on it,” Dunkin said. “He said Ennis will defend his title in June.”
Unfortunately for the fans, Dunkin simply does not think the financial support is there to stage a Spence-Ennis fight anytime soon.
“It’s great TV, but where’s the money?” Dunkin said. “They’re not gonna pay that kind of money — whoever — we’re not signed with anybody. Is somebody gonna call me and say you want to fight Spence? Only [Spence’s advisor Al] Haymon, [promoter] Tom Brown, Stephen Espinoza.”
Recently, Dunkin lost one of his highly regarded clients, rising junior welterweight Brandun Lee, after their contract expired last year. Lee subsequently signed an advisory deal with Haymon, the founder of Premier Boxing Champions, which showcases its vast roster of fighters, including Spence and Thurman, on Showtime, its exclusive network partner. Ennis’ situation is unique because while he regularly appears on Showtime cards, he is not a Haymon-advised fighter.
Dunkin brushed off any suggestion that Ennis (30-0, 27 KOs) could follow a similar trajectory.
“One thing has nothing to do with the other. All I know is that I’m fine with my guy,” Dunkin said. “We got the interim title and anybody who wants to fight for that has to come to us. They got 90 days and we’ll push it on them if we have to.
“But they’re not going to come after Boots Ennis.”
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