|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - July 08, 2023|
Listen, if you are reading this article while standing – go grab your favorite beverage and take a seat. Where do I start? Allow me to lay the foundation of my argument which will allow you to understand how we arrived at Boardwalk Hall on this balmy Saturday. There have always been UFO sightings. However, on Friday, September 16, 1994, at the Ariel School in Ruwa, Zimbabwe – sixty-two students claimed that they witnessed a silver unidentified flying object land in a field with several figures disembark from the craft. Facts, fantasy, or fiction? You must be supremely arrogant or ignorant to believe that we are alone and on the sole inhabited planet in the galaxy. We are not alone! Bear with me because I am not taking you for a ride around the rhetorical ranch.
On June 26, 1997, Jaron “Boots” Ennis was “born” in Philadelphia – the third son of former professional pugilist, boxing savant and trainer Derek “Bozy” Ennis and his beautiful wife Sharon. Boxing is a family business and the precocious toddler found himself in a walker training alongside his brothers – Derek and Farah – under the watchful eyes of their father. I understand the skillfully crafted narrative and corroborating evidence showing the progression of Boots from a toddler to the supremely gifted and talented ambidextrous fighting machine with an uncanny ability to anticipate incoming artillery – slip or pull back a centimeter allowing the punches to strike air as he pivots and counters like a gloved matador facing a bull at Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas in Madrid (Spain). All of you have accepted the story that he was born in a Philadelphia hospital.Allow me to rattle the cages of your beliefs. Yes, Jaron Ennis (30 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 27 kos) isn’t human! I have always accepted that he came from another planet and is simply on Earth to show us the possibilities of our imaginations. The interim IBF welterweight champion is a generational talent with impeccable boxing skills, impenetrable defense, dynamite in both mitts with the showmanship of a legendary circus performer. And tonight, was no different as he treated us to a masterful display of the sweet science, intuitively knowing the best camera angles as he gave credence to my contention that he is indeed an alien! All this – with Stephen Espinoza, President of Showtime Sports, ringside enjoying the show in front of a sold-out arena – packed with supporters of the Philadelphia phenom.
Roiman “Flaco de Oro” Villa (26 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws – 24 kos) of Venezuela was doomed the day he placed his John Hancock on the contract to face Ennis. We do not possess the technology or know-how to stop extra-terrestrials. Nevertheless, Villa must be commended for having the temerity to not only step in the ring to face “The Best Boxer in the Galaxy” but also for fighting with every ounce of strength in his body refusing to abandon his mission – going out on his shield - reminding everyone that trainers and handlers cannot abdicate their fiduciary duty of protecting a fighter from himself. As we say in Jamaica, “much respect” to Villa because he did what neither Errol “The Truth” Spence – IBF, WBC & WBA welterweight champion nor Terrence “Bud” Crawford, WBO welterweight champion would do – face Boots in a boxing ring.
The gong sounded for the opening stanza and Ennis came out in the orthodox stance working behind a stiff jab to Villa’s head and midsection. With the Venezuelan marching forward, Ennis was clearly in the role of the matador. The temperature rose in the second stanza as Ennis landed body shots and rapid-fire combinations and Villa connected with a straight right while the Philadelphian had his back on the ropes. Switching to the southpaw stance, Ennis finished the round in control. The next four rounds, we witnessed the phenom from another galaxy stand toe-to-toe with Villa out-boxing him on the inside showing us his defensive wizardry including glimpses of the “cross-arm” defense made famous by the legendary light-heavyweight champion Archie “The Old Mongoose” Moore. With barely twenty-five seconds remaining in the sixth stanza Ennis buckled Villa with an overhand right – his legs turning to spaghetti – having us believing that the fight was about to end – pouring it on until the bell saved the impaired fighter from the inevitable. Nobody will ever question Villa’s whiskers.Bozy Ennis would later reveal to me that he told his son to “break him down” by boxing on the outside instead of staying on the inside toe-to-toe. Boots went back to boxing from a distance while hurting Villa with combinations – his face carmine – blood dripping from his nose. It was truly show time as the Philadelphian pivoted, ducked, slipped with his opponent’s punches missing or picked off in mid-air reinforcing that the US Air Force is not the only user of AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems). The ringside doctor examined Villa after the eighth round, and I was confident that his handlers were going to stop the fight and prevent the courageous warrior from taking further punishment because Ennis was in a zone – doling out punishment – displaying his wares sending a message to the entire world that he is the best fighter in the galaxy, and he is untouchable.
I was wrong as they sent Villa out for the ninth round. He fought valiantly and despite being outboxed – he came forward and was able to catch Ennis with a grazing right as the gong sounded to end the round. “Boots got so many levels that he can go to, but he need someone to bring it out” stated Bozy when I questioned him about the change in strategy. Thus, after “breaking down” Villa in the previous three rounds, Ennis came out in the tenth round to close the show or as was instructed by his dad – “take it to another level.” Villa was figuratively strapped in an electric chair with a cap with a saltwater-soaked sponge affixed to his head when his corner - obviously delusional - sent him out for the tenth round. Those in press-row next to me concurred that the fight should have been stopped after the eighth round. The lion-hearted fighter came forward and Ennis unloaded from his arsenal following the instructions of his father. Villa appeared rejuvenated and crowded Ennis – pushing him to the ropes throwing multiple punches as Ennis in the southpaw stance pivoted and blasted him with a right hook followed by a straight left that landed right on his chin – discombobulating his internal circuitry – momentarily freezing him before he imploded to the canvas as another straight left grazed his hairline as he was descending. Referee David Fields immediately called an end to the bout, declaring Ennis the victor by knockout at 1:47 of the 10th round of the scheduled 12-rounder. Let’s pray that Villa will be alright and able to resume his career.
“It was a good test for Boots. He made a statement. They got to fight him or give up the belt,” Bozy told me during our post-fight conversation. Ennis was electrifying and allow me to “steal” - paraphrasing the great Michael Gerard Tyson by stating that Boots' style was impetuous, and his defense was impregnable. Tonight, he was Archie “The Old” Mongoose” Moore, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy “Hitman” Hearns, Wilfred “The Bible of Boxing” Benitez, Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran and Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker rolled into one! Spence and Crawford would rather walk on the Serengeti Plains with sirloin steaks strapped to their backs than face Boots Ennis in a boxing ring. Yes, I agree with Bozy – Spence should abdicate – vacate – give up the belt. Witness history!
In the co-main event, middleweight “Marvelous” Marquis Taylor (14 wins – 1 loss – 2 draws – 1 ko) of Houston, Texas garnered a unanimous ten-round decision by scores of 99-90 and 96-93 twice over undefeated Yoelvis Gomez (6 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 5 kos) of Cuba now residing in Las Vegas, Nevada – handing his fifth undefeated opponent his first loss. The supremely confident Cuban fighting from the southpaw stance – attacked at the opening bell ripping shots to the body as Taylor appeared outclassed. Referee Harvey Dock gave Gomez a warning for throwing Taylor to the canvas immediately before the bell to end the opening stanza.
The fight was being waged at close quarters with Gomez getting the better of the in-fighting. However, during a clinch – midway in the round - Taylor stepped backwards and immediately came forward with an overhand right that careened off Gomez’s cranium sending him crashing to the canvas. The fallen fighter was up at the count of two and the action resumed. Gomez made it out of the round. Somehow, the tide turned as Taylor pressed the action neutralizing the Cuban who appeared befuddled and ineffective, unable to land anything of consequence. Despite a substantial height advantage, Taylor fought on the inside for most of the fight. The rounds were close with Gomez winning rounds 1,5, 7, 9 and 10 on my scorecard. Thus, I had it 95-94 for Taylor with the knockdown in the second round being the deciding factor.
Twenty-three-year-old southpaw lightweight Edwin De Los Santos (15 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws – 14 kos) of the Dominican Republic won a lopsided unanimous decision by scores of 100-90 twice and 99-91 over the once highly-touted prospect Joseph “Blessed Hands” Adorno (17 wins – 2 losses – 2 draws – 14 kos) of Allentown, Pennsylvania – further solidifying the adage “styles make fights!" There weren’t any knockdowns nor was Adorno ever in dire straits. At the opening bell De Los Santos worked behind his right jab while using hand feints looking like one of my favorite fighters, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and two-division World Champion Guillermo “El Chacal” Rigondeaux.We all know that Adorno has nitro-glycerin in his vaunted left hook. But, for some inexplicable reason he was unable to connect with his game-changing equalizer. The rounds were almost identical with the Dominican being elusive, doing enough to get the nod on the scorecards. De Los Santos’ jab was the primary weapon and Adorno’s eyes were swollen forcing the ringside doctor to examine him before commencement of the ninth stanza. The audience showed its disapproval and frustration with a cacophony of boos during the tenth and final round. No surprise that De Los Santos had his hand raised in victory by referee Charlie Fitch. Hopefully, the twenty-four-year-old Adorno – who suffered his second consecutive loss – will review this fight in deciding his next move.
The opening bout of the evening featured another Philadelphia phenom and Boots’ stablemate - twenty-one-year-old southpaw junior-welterweight Ismail Muhammad (1 win – 0 losses – 0 draws – 1 ko) in a scheduled four-rounder against winless Parker Bruno (0 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws) of Clear Lake, Texas. Also trained by Bozy Ennis, Muhammad is a supremely gifted and talented prospect who is to Boots what Derrick “Smoke” Gainer was to the great Roy Jones Jr. – a worthy and young friend taken under the wings of wisdom and opportunity – destined for greatness. And the affable and likable fighter who goes by the moniker “Ish” – did not disappoint the capacity crowd. Working behind his right jab, Ish was able to circle and counter Bruno with a laser-like straight left which landed with precision and power giving us a preview of what was coming in the main event. The Philadelphian boxed brilliantly and was virtually untouchable – capturing the opening round. It was evident that Bruno’s intestinal fortitude and courage was no match for the boxing acumen and accuracy of his opponent as he was outclassed and introduced twice to the canvas in the second-round compliments of Ish’s straight left. To his credit, the Texan hopped up and continued coming forward – until the gong sounded to end the round. Referee Dali is a benevolent and merciful man and called a halt to the festivities in the third round at 1:45 seconds – saving Bruno from further damage as he was absorbing too many clean shots. Please take a sip of your favorite drink and write down the name Ismail Muhammad!
Welcome to the jungle baby! As a nature lover it is somewhat gratifying when a fighter enters the ring with a moniker that is linked to the wild. Thus, I couldn’t wait to see what would transpire after Dwyke “The Silverback” Flemmings Jr. (3 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 3 kos) of Paterson, New Jersey was introduced to square off against southpaw Henry Rivera (2 wins – 1 loss – 0 draws – 1 ko) of Las Vegas, Nevada in a scheduled four-round junior-middleweight bout. The nineteen-year-old Flemmings dominated the awkward and unpredictable Rivera who came forward getting countered with uppercuts and straight rights – suffering a busted nose. Referee Fitch called timeout midway in the third round for the ringside doctor to assess Rivera because of the bleeding. Upon the advice of the doctor – the fight was stopped, and Flemmings declared the winner by technical knockout at 1:57 of the third round. Well, I guess nothing good ever happens when man faces a silverback!
Heavyweight Steven Torres (5 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 5 kos) of Reading, Pennsylvania was impressive in scoring a technical knockout at 1:08 of the third round in the scheduled eight-rounder against James “Nothing Nice” Evans (6 wins – 0 losses – 1 draw – 6 kos) of Toledo, Ohio. This was a rematch of their January 1, 2022, four-rounder which ended in a split-decision draw on the undercard of Luis “King Kong” Ortiz’s sixth round knockout of former world heavyweight champion Charles Martin. Since that fateful day, this was Torres’ first fight and Evans’ third. The bout began with Torres stalking, switching intermittently from orthodox to southpaw. It was a close opening round with Evans landing an overhand right midway. Torres pressed the action in the second round and again in the third where he trapped Evans on the ropes – unleashing a barrage of blows forcing Referee Dali to rescue him from further damage – sending a clear message that there is “nothing nice” about asking for a second fight with him.
In the battle of southpaws – middleweight Euri Cedeno (4 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 4 kos) of the Dominican Republic made short work of undefeated William Townsel (5 wins – 0 losses – 0 draws – 4 kos) of Virginia Beach, Virginia sending him twice to the canvas in the opening stanza with straight lefts and combinations - forcing Referee Dali to call a halt at 1:41 of the round. What seemed like an evenly matched bout was a one-sided affair as Townsel got hit early and was unable to recover – gain his bearings and continue the scheduled eight-rounder. Cedeno took the upper-hand - blitzed his adversary - and “sprinted” to the finish line.
It was great hitching a ride with Raul “The Sniper” Serrano – former amateur featherweight that I trained who is now a successful Construction Contractor. He wanted to discuss some of his upcoming projects. Thus, I recommended that we make it a half-day business trip – get to Atlantic City early for lunch and then head over to the fights. The plan worked as anticipated despite our meals costing more than my grocery bill for an entire week. Boots’ magnificent performance was well-worth the trip!
According to the students interviewed from the Ariel School, there were between one and four creatures dressed in black with large eyes that exited the craft. These extraterrestrials communicated with them telepathically that the world would end because humans are not taking care of the planet. They returned to the craft and disappeared. I guess it landed in Philadelphia. We are not alone. Witness history!
Continue to support the sweet science, and remember, always carry your mouthpiece. firstname.lastname@example.org