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Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis – A Pure Fighter on the Cusp of a Breakout Year

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  • Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis – A Pure Fighter on the Cusp of a Breakout Year

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    By Luis A. Cortes III

    It was just after noon on Monday, December 26th, the day after Christmas, yet as you walked into the back room at Philadelphia’s Next Champ Gym, the festiveness of the previous days felt like it might as well have been months ago. A serious yet confident tone saturated “Bozy’s Dungeon.”

    While the actual brick and mortar that houses this current rendition of Bozy’s Dungeon (named after Jaron’s father/trainer) is different, its philosophy remains the same: complete focus on the task at hand. As the current training camp for welterweight contender Jaron “Boots” Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs) winds down, the severity of just what Team Ennis is on the cusp of obtaining grows with each punch becoming the countdown to the opening bell.

    On Saturday night from our nation’s capital, as the co-headliner for the Showtime Pay-Per-View event, Boots Ennis will be fighting for an interim version of the IBF welterweight championship. With the lack of a Crawford-Spence super fight being consummated, Ennis has reached a point in his career that can breed discontent, lack of focus, and simply put, frustration. He’s been in boxing purgatory since his destruction of fellow contender Custio Clayton as the Crawford-Spence logjam atop the weight class has forced him into a supporting role in this blockbuster division, a role he isn’t expected to play much longer.

    What makes the case of Ennis interesting is that unlike contenders in the past that became “boogeyman,” it’s not just the champions of his weight class that seem uninterested in fighting him. Other top-tier contenders and fringe champions that can be viewed as major tests for Ennis are also seemingly uninterested in swapping leather with him. It’s the byproduct of what a fighter can face when he passes every test placed in front of him with flying colors. They become too risky in the minds of the other contenders who are also pursuing their shot at glory.

    At times it can be a lose-lose situation for Ennis. “When we beat Lipinets the way we did, suddenly he was too small. Then we beat Dulorme and he [Dulorme] was washed up. Even the last guy [Custio Clayton] wasn’t a good enough test if you listen to everyone,” states Bozy.

    At times when fans believe they’re watching future greatness, they want to see the fighter from whom greatness is anticipated get tested and pushed to his limit every single time he fights. What’s lost in Ennis’s case is that he views the sport and his craft differently than most, including other fighters. While other hot contenders or young champions have taken to pleading to the masses through social media that they’re the best or deserve big money fights, Ennis prefers the old-school approach of really allowing his fists to do the talking.

    “I want to fight, and I’ve said it plenty of times, it doesn't matter against who, I just love to fight,” stated Ennis in October while attending a local fight card in Philadelphia. “I’m sounding like a broken record,” said Ennis after sparring on the day after Christmas. “It doesn’t matter who, when, or where. If they got a belt, they’re going to have to see me eventually.”

    Although what used to be weeks between fights have now grown to months, nothing has changed in how Boots approaches training. He is always -- and I mean always -- in the gym. What’s the best way to avoid outside distractions and keep away from people looking to attach themselves to him as his star continues to rise? Staying in the gym. Never wandering from the place that has become Team Ennis’ version of an art studio.

    “We’re always working on new things and details, the little things,” says Bozy who views himself more of a teacher than a trainer. It’s this approach along with their success thus far that has Bozy believing that if they take care of their own responsibilities, the rest, including the championships and big money fights, will take care of themselves.

    It’s a wise way to handle a fighter’s career; avoid distractions, including those that occur when you have media and fans nagging you about your opinions of other fighters. No conversation is off-limits at Bozy’s Dungeon when nothing is on the books in terms of a future fight or if things are just starting to ramp up as training camp approaches, but with a pivotal fight just mere weeks away, any topic that doesn’t deal directly with Boots is deflected; it has no relevance to Team Ennis. An exception is made for discussions about the craft of boxing, a subject that is always entertained at length regardless of what is planned on the Team Ennis calendar. When class is in session and the teacher (Bozy) is instructing, everyone listening has their boxing I.Q. raised.

    Boots Ennis has put into practice his father’s teachings and it has made him, simply put, a pure fighter. Championships and life-changing money are seemingly right around the corner for him if he is victorious against his Ukrainian opponent on Saturday night.