PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 19, 2020
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Amanda Westcott / Showtime


Jaron Ennis appeared to be on the brink of winning his 27th straight win, scoring his 17th straight KO, and collecting the IBO welterweight title belt, in his scheduled 12-rounder with Chris van Heerden, Saturday night in the Mohegan Sun bubble in Uncasville, CT. Even though only about two thirds of the first round had elapsed, it was clear that this was going to be another good night for one of Philly's brightest young stars.

However as the final minute of the first round began, the boxers clashed heads along the ropes and van Heerden came away with a nasty gash on his forehead. The fighters separated. Ennis reeled back, pawing at his forehead, while van Heerden rested his gloves on the top rope, bent at the waist. As referee Johnny Callas called in the doctor, blood poured straight down from van Heerden, still bent over, onto the mat. The doctor took one quick glance and called for the fight to be immediately stopped.

After van Heerden's cut was wiped off, the gaping cut on his head looked like a second mouth a few inches above his left eye. Since only 2:39 had passed (far less than the required four rounds), the bout was called a No Decision due to the accidental head butt.

Up to that point in the fight, it was all Ennis. Fighting from a southpaw stance, Ennis cracked van Heerden with rights and lefts and was impressively accurate. There is little question that he would have scored another stellar performance. Instead, Ennis, the youngest of Philly's fighting Ennis clan, saw his knockout streak, winning streak and his chance at the IBO belt vanish.

However, Ennis' promise and ability remained untouched. This was a bad break, but in the end, it was just a momentary pause on his fast-rising career. Jaron's future is still bright and 2021 looks like the year he will make his move into title contention. The fact that the very top welterweights (Terrance Crawford, Errol Spence and Manny Pacquaio) appear to be circling each other, is the only factor that may delay Jaron's chance to land a major title fight.

However, there are still numerous fights for Ennis to prepare him for the very best. The welterweight division is deep with talent. The (close) second tier of 147-pounders, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia might steer clear of the young upstart, waiting for another shot at one of the champs. Many other non-champs abound in the division. So, Ennis should have no trouble finding work, gaining more experience, establishing his reputation, and entering the mix.


He's not that far away and 2021 should show us exactly how close he is.

Van Heerden left the ring with a record of 28-2-1, 12 KOs and 1 No Decision. Ennis closed the year with a record of 26-0-0, 24 KOs and 1 No Decision.




John DiSanto - Uncasville, CT (via Showtime) - December 19, 2020