In many people’s eyes, Jaron Ennis is a world champion in waiting and his quest for welterweight greatness took another huge stride forward in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
In what was viewed as his toughest test to date, Ennis blew away the generally durable Thomas Dulorme in the opening round of their battle at the The Michelob Ultra Arena, a statement that would have sent shockwaves through the division.
The Philadelphia man sent Dulorme crashing to the canvas after the first minute with a devastating right hand to the side of the head. The Puerto Rican beat the referee’s count and briefly responded with a crisp right hand of his own, under heavy fire.
The 31-year-old’s resistance was broken though shortly afterwards with a two-punch combination, followed by a straight left hand, sending to the deck again.
The former super lightweight world title challenger, who went the distance with Yordenis Ugas, Jamal James and Eimantas Stanionis, all in defeat attempted to bravely rise again, but his legs betrayed him and he was unable to make the count, leaving a jubilant Ennis (28-0, 26 KOs) to reel off in celebration.
Dulorme suffered a third stoppage loss, with his last a sixth round defeat to Terence Crawford at 140lbs.
‘Boots’ extended his undefeated streak to 28 straight victories and cemented his position as a bonafide world contender and the 24-year-old, who has long been chasing a world title opportunity, called for the champions to face him.
“[Errol] Spence, [Terence] Crawford, [Yordenis] Ugas, Keith Thurman,” Ennis told SHOWTIME post-fight.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) October 31, 2021
Immediate showdowns with Crawford and Ugas appear unlikely with the former set to defend his WBO welterweight championship against Shawn Porter on November 20, whilst the latter has been ordered to defend his belt against Stanionis.
So, who could be next for boxing’s rising welterweight sensation?
Errol Spence Jr
Ennis appears to desire a fight with unified world champion, Errol Spence the most.
“I’m ranked #3 with the IBF, so Errol Spence,” Ennis added when pushed on who he’d like above all.
Undefeated WBC and IBF holder, Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) missed out on a highly-anticipated clash with Manny Pacquiao in August after suffering a torn retina to his left eye, with Ugas stepping in and sending the Filipino legend into retirement with a dominant, unanimous decision win.
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The 31-year-old’s comeback appears to be edging closer with Spence insisting on social media recently that he would like a tough challenge when he returns.
A unification with promotional stablemate Ugas does not appear likely given the WBA’s order, so ‘The Truth’ could therefore face ‘Boots’.
I need fight for a title next.. tune up fights for guys who are unsure of themselves
— Errol Spence (@ErrolSpenceJr) October 24, 2021
Spence has not been as active as he’d have liked through no fault of his own and any question marks over his inactivity were answered after he came back to convincingly beat Danny Garcia on points in December, following recovery from a car accident.
The New York-born southpaw will face a similar challenge in terms of his lack of ring time, but his confidence has surely not wavered and he is still considered a pound-for-pound star.
Ennis has not faced anyone of the calibre of Spence or any of the names he called out for that matter, but seems to have the skillset to match the elite contenders.
A fight with Spence would be an intriguing one, between two highly-skilled operators.
Vergil Ortiz Jr
A mouthwatering showdown between Ennis and Vergil Ortiz Jr may be closer than expected.
The pair are ranked in all four governing bodies, with undefeated Ortiz Jr (18-0, 18 KOs) the number one contender in both the WBO and WBC, where his compatriot is ranked at five and six respectively.
Both men are also closely ranked in the IBF and WBA and thus a sanctioning body could call for a world title eliminator between them.
Ortiz Jr has 18 knockouts from as many victories, halting former world title challenger, Egidijus Kavaliauskas in eight rounds in August and has been vocal in his desire to face Crawford.
It’s a fight that could marinate into an even bigger clash, such is the star potential of both, especially if they claim world titles. However, calls have been mounting for them to meet sooner rather than later and a decision from a sanctioning body could leave no choice, but to make a major showdown.
So many mega fights down the years have failed to materialise and in an era where the two best at the weight in Spence and Crawford are still yet to do battle, the time may just be right for these future stars to see who’s the best now.
Keith Thurman is another man on Ennis’ hitlist.
The former unified welterweight champion has not fought since a split decision defeat to Manny Pacquiao in July 2019 and has not yet given an indication on a return.
‘One Time’ is ranked at four with the WBC behind Spence who he has long been linked with, but has not faced.
Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) has only fought three times in over four years, with injuries coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic hampering his progress and whether he would take a clash with the young and active Ennis remains to be seen.
The 32-year-old American has far more experience having beaten the likes of Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia in previous years and a bout would show exactly where ‘Boots’ is at in terms of competing with the established contenders, which Thurman has been for several years.