PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - January 07, 2023  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Amanda Westcott / Showtime


Philly welterweight Jaron Ennis won the IBF Interim world title with a twelve-round unanimous decision over Karen Chukhadzhian, of Ukraine, Saturday night at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. Going into the bout, most expected "Boots" to strike early and add another knockout to his unbeaten record. Although that did not happen, "Boots" brought home the belt against Chukhadzhian who proved far more mobile, sturdy, and competitive than many expected. While Ennis failed to score a KO, he did win every round on all three official scorecards. It was an excellent win over a tougher-than-expected opponent but was the shutout enough?

In the first half of the fight, Ennis used a switch-hitting style to gain the early lead. He landed a number of times and swept the first three rounds rather easily. Chukhadzhian moved well in these opening rounds and beginning in round four, started punching back, especially with his left hook. Once in the fourth, this punched landed twice in succession. Ennis took the shots well and never blinked. However, that the Ukrainian was having any luck at all was a surprise. Usually explosive right out of the gate, this Ennis was less devastating, but never lost control of the action. Rounds four, five, and six were closer, but Ennis took them all on my scorecard.

In the second half, Ennis continued his work. He had never been past round six previously, so when round seven began, it was new territory for the rising star. Chukhadzhian landed another solid left hook in round seven, yet the round wound up being Ennis' best thus far. He was busier and more dominant and it appeared he was beginning to shift into a higher gear. Ennis was handling the extra rounds and the lesson was an excellent addition to his growing skill set.

However, Ennis looked frustrated in the eighth. His offense was wilder and he missed often. For the third time in the fight, Boots went into a pirouette after missing badly with a punch. In the ninth round, Chukhadzhian slowed down and appeared to enter survival mode. He became more passive and did not attempt the sharp counters that he previously landed. During the round, Ennis looked bothered, perhaps unhappy with his inability to attain a knockout. Still, from a points perspective, Ennis was running away with the fight.

In round ten, Ennis relied on a heavy body attack and it seemed to wear his opponent down a bit. Ennis rammed Chukhadzhian with a vicious right hook, but Karen rebounded with a nice left hook of his own. The TV commentators reported that Ennis landed fourteen body shots during the round (and a total of forty in the past four rounds).

Chukhadzhian boxed better in the eleventh, but Ennis remained consistent, throwing and landing more. The final round turned out to be the closest of the entire fight. A renewed Chukhadzhian landed a hard right early on, and a right-left combination later. However, Ennis kept swinging and scored hard lefts throughout.

When the bell sounded to end the fight, there was absolutely no question about who would win the decision. All three judges, David Braslow, Tammye Jenkins, and Paul Wallace) scored the fight a 120-108 (12-0 in rounds) shutout for Ennis. My card was the same. The statistics for total punches landed favored Ennis 34% to 17%.

The victory improved Ennis' record to 30-0, with 27 KOs, 1 No Contest, and earned him his first world title belt. Chukhadzhian slipped to 21-2, 11 KOs, but performed far better than anyone expected.

So was the shutout by Ennis enough?

Without question, this was the biggest platform of Ennis' career thus far. No doubt, another extraordinary blowout might have impressed the 19,731 live fans and the more than 200,000 PPV buyers more than a unanimous decision. However, Ennis really didn't need another easy fight. He needed challenging work and he got it.

It's easy for fans and experts alike to get ahead of themselves when watching a solid gold prospect like Ennis. Recent comparisons to Roy Jones Jr. are meant to be compliments, but do Ennis little good in his development. They also distort the fans' expectations. Jaron Ennis is still a young fighter with good but limited experience. He hasn't seen every style or faced opponents of every level - at least not yet. Chukhadzhian was an unexpected test for Ennis, but I think it was exactly what the young Philadelphian truly needed. He learned a lot and the fight gave him a short list of areas in need of improvement. If Ennis is going to eventually gain status as the best welterweight or perhaps even the best pound-for-pound in the world he must earn it. And to earn it, he needs to prove himself over and over in the ring.

I believe he has an excellent chance to reach the very top level, but such a status doesn't just happen nor does it come from birthright. The greatest fighters are workers. They are active. They fight every opponent they can - even those who have a chance of beating them. Fighters need to step up. Ennis is well on his way. When he gets there, we'll look back on this fight as one of his important building blocks. So, yes, it was enough. A knockout would have been nice, but a shutout was enough. It was a better investment in Ennis' future and should pay dividends and ultimately make him a better fighter. 

Another advantage that may come from this most recent performance is that perhaps other fighters who have been avoiding him might suddenly think the time is right to finally face Ennis. He's only going to get better. Come on Crawford, Spence, and the rest. Step up. Prove it's not Jaron Ennis' time to bloom. We dare you.

In the main event, WBA lightweight champion Gervonta Davis defended his title with a ninth round TKO of Hector Luis Garcia. The challenger had some fine moments early in the fight, but once Davis focused and started punching for real, the fight ended suddenly. The time of the stoppage was 13 seconds into round nine.

Roiman Villa W12 (M) Rashidi Ellis, welterweights.
Demetrius Andrade W10 (U) Demond Nicholson, super middleweights.
Vito Mielnicki Jr. TKO4 Omar Rosales, junior middleweights (10 rounds).
Kyrone Davis W8(U) Cristian Fabian Rios, super middleweights.
Brandun Lee TKO4 Diego Luque, junior welterweights (8 rounds).
Travon Marshall TKO1 Shawn West, junior middleweights (8 rounds).
Michael Ogundo TKO4 Lamont Peterson, junior welterweight (6 rounds).
Keeshawn Williams W6 (U) Gustavo Vittori, welterweights.
Mia Ellis TKO1 Karen Dulin, lightweights (4 rounds).
Jalil Hackett TKO1 Joel Guevara, middleweights (4 rounds).




John DiSanto - Washington, DC (via Showtime PPV) - January 07, 2023