BOXING

I am Terence Crawford’s dangerous new mandatory challenger – the man Floyd Mayweather called a ‘problem’

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As soon as Terence Crawford conquered Errol Spence on Saturday night, his next line of hungry young challengers began calling for their opportunity.

Crawford knocked Spence out in a sensational display to become undisputed welterweight world champion and boxing’s pound-for-pound king.

He now holds all four belts in the 147lbs division – the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO.

As such, he already has mandatory challengers waiting from a couple of these sanctioning bodies.

The WBA’s challenger is Lithuania’s unbeaten Eimantas Stanionis – a highly rated 28-year-old who will give a tough night to most top welterweights.

However, there is significantly more hype about IBF mandatory Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.

terence crawford

The 26-year-old American is now 31-0 with 28 KOs and regarded among the best young contenders in the sport.

Ennis boasts a high KO ratio of 87.5 per cent, but one would be foolish to see that number and begin to envisage Ennis as merely a power puncher.

Despite clearly being a hard-hitter, it is in fact Boots’ elite boxing ability which has led to him being so respected.

In his early fights, he caught the eye with his ability to switch stances, like Crawford, and land spiteful shots with consistent accuracy.

Ennis is not often a one-punch knockout artist. He instead beats his opponents up, breaks them down and finishes them by simply battering them into submission.

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In 2021, Ennis made the jump from ‘prospect’ to ‘contender’.

He did so by becoming the first man to stop Russian former world champion Sergey Lipinets.

Lipinets came into the bout having only been beaten once previously – by four-weight champion Mikey Garcia.

He lost this bout on points and was expected to be Ennis’ toughest test to date by some distance.

Remarkably, the American made this win look relatively straightforward.

Ennis’ versatile combinations were too much for Lipinets, who was floored in round four and overwhelmed for a knockout in round six.

The youngster even passed a chin check as Lipinets landed a multiple solid right hands in the early rounds which did not move him.

It was seemingly this performance, in April 2021, which caught Mayweather’s eye.

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“I feel like he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves,” he said of the prospect a month later.

“We talk about a lot of fighters at welterweight, but we don’t talk about him. I think that he’s gonna be a problem, he’s a problem right now.”

And a few months later, Mayweather again told reporters: “I’ll come on record and say that kid Jaron Ennis, ‘Boots’ – don’t sleep on him.

“Don’t sleep on him, helluva fighter.”

Ennis has picked up a further four wins since then and earned the IBF ‘interim’ belt to position himself as Crawford’s mandatory.

His most recent victory over fellow contender Roiman Villa was especially impressive as he comprehensively dismantled and knocked out his capable foe.

There is no doubt that Ennis is now ready for a world title shot, and Crawford could be ordered to defend against him in the coming months.

However, it’s also known that the champion may have to rematch Spence, who has insisted he will activate his contractual clause to force a second fight.

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