This week, it was announced that Jaron “Boots” Ennis had signed a multi-fight deal with Matchroom Boxing, ending the mystery regarding which promoter the dynamic welterweight would align himself with during this critical stretch of his career.

And now the question becomes: Which opponents will help Ennis define it?

Ennis’ signing comes on the heels of last year’s news that the fighter was elevated from an interim welterweight titleholder to an outright titleholder, after the sanctioning body in question stripped Terence Crawford of its belt.

Since his confirmation as the permanent titleholder, Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) has stayed out of the ring. In his most recent fight, he successfully defended his interim belt by finishing Roiman Villa in a 10th-round knockout last July. News of the partnership with Matchroom brings hope that Ennis is ready to become as active – and as ambitious in selecting his level of competition – as a fighter of his perceived talent should be.

“Staying active is important,” Ennis said in a Matchroom YouTube video. “I can’t wait to get back in the ring – and I am going to be better than ever.”

Ennis said he is unsure who he will face in the ring, although his new promoter Eddie Hearn told Charlie Parsons that Boots’ first opponent fighting under the Matchroom banner will be Cody Crowley (22-0, 9 KOs). Hearn also said the bout would likely be a homecoming for Ennis – staged in Philadelphia, in June or July.

A Crowley fight would serve as Ennis’ first mandatory defense of his world title, which is a first step in the direction that most boxing fans want to see for the gifted fighter. But the end goal for Ennis seems to be a stride toward lasting greatness. 

“I want to see him fight Terence Crawford,” Hearn said. “Terence will only take that fight if he is big enough. I’ll back Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis against anybody.”

Ennis, for his part, isn’t especially confident that he will ever get the chance to face the man whom some observers believe to be the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet. Because Crawford is 37 and Ennis is 26, time is of the essence. With Crawford seemingly eyeing other opponents, a hypothetical fight with Ennis is at risk of being cast into the dustbin of boxing’s greatest what-ifs.

“I am not sure if Terence Crawford wants the fight or not,” Ennis said. “He went out publicly a few times saying he not looking my direction, he not looking my way, I am not a big enough name, I am not this, I am not that. But there is no one else left for him to fight.”

Ennis said that if Crawford were to continue at welterweight, the only fight that mattered would come against him.

“Either you fight me or you fight nobody,” Ennis said.