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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


In Philly, the word on the street is that welterweight Jaron “Boots” Ennis, 19-0, 17 KOs, is boxing’s next big star, and some say the best to come along since Meldrick Taylor electrified the City of Brotherly Love by winning an Olympic Gold Medal at age 17, and world championships in two weight divisions as a professional.  Big shoes to fill for sure.  However, Ennis’ rise thus far suggests we should indeed believe the hype. 

Ennis takes the next step in his budding career on Friday night in Atlantic City when he faces veteran “Mighty” Mike Arnaoutis, 26-10-2, 13 KOs, in the 10-round main event at the Showboat Hotel & Casino.  The fight is significant for Ennis because, in Arnaoutis, the 20 year old prospect takes on arguably his biggest “name” opponent to date. 

Fighting an old pro is a rite of passage for a young boxers, and Arnaoutis fits that bill to a tee.  The Greek-born vet is nearly 39 years old, has 38 pro bouts, has many fine names on his resume – including many world champs and title contenders - and on paper looks like he’d be a handful for any fighter who is still-developing.

However, anyone who has seen Ennis knows that he is a special talent with great potential to go directly to the top in the sport.  He appears to have all the tools necessary to not only turn back Arnaoutis, he also looks ready to face even tougher fare at 147 pounds. 

So, anything but an impressive victory by Ennis would be a shock to everyone – probably even Arnaoutis – and thus the outcome of Friday's fight is hardly in question.  However, it will be interesting to see exactly how well Ennis performs.  This assignment is his gateway fight, presumably the last stop before he faces a serious threat to his perfect record.  In the future when we look back, the fight is sure to be a milestone. 

The bout, promoted by Rising Star Promotions, is Ennis’ 20th fight, his first AC main event, and probably the close of the first chapter of his career.  In another fight or two, Ennis will shed his “prospect” label and try on the tag of “contender”.  Watching him advance is exciting and feels like the start of something big. 

The Ennis-Arnaoutis bout coincides with a big Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame weekend that offers a variety of fight-related events, along with a total of three competing boxing cards slated for the weekend – two on Friday night and one Saturday night. 

The Rising Star card also includes a pair of bouts with New Jersey State Title belts at stake.  Middleweight Chris “Sandman” Thomas, 8-0-1, 5 KOs, meets Daryl “Dream King” Bunting, 3-3-2, 1 KO, in an 8-round fight in the first of those fights.  Then heavyweights Quian Davis, 4-0-2, 2 KOs, takes on Dan Pasciolla, 9-3-3, in the second title bout. 

Undercard bouts include another 8-rounder between junior welterweights Yurik Mamedov and Kashon Hutchinson, plus a pair of 6-rounders, and four 4-rounders. 




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - May 29, 2018