Special fighter gives special performance

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A critical look at the past week in boxing

BIGGEST WINNER
Jaron Ennis

We won’t know with certainty how good Jaron Ennis is until he graduates to top-level opposition but no one scores higher on the eye test. “Boots” looked like a perfect fighter against a solid, durable but hopelessly overmatched opponent in Roiman Villa on Saturday night in Atlantic City, dominating the Venezuelan before scoring a brutal knockout in the 10th round. Natural gifts? No one has his combination of speed, athleticism and power. No one. Skill set? Jab, power shot(s), movement, repeat. His ability to follow that formula rendered Villa (26-2, 24 KOs) helpless. And he’s a perfectionist, meaning he’s only going to get better. Power? He couldn’t take Villa out with one shot – he had to break him down – but that had more to do with the victim’s chin than Ennis’ punching power. He’s a true knockout artist. Durability? Villa, a big puncher himself, landed some hard shots and Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) was never fazed. Great chin. And he’s learning not to stand in front of his opponent, meaning he should take fewer and fewer punches going forward. Intangibles? He carries himself like he’s the best fighter in the world. And he might be. I don’t see a path one could take to beat him. Again, though, we’ll see when he faces the best possible opponents in this division and beyond. I have a feeling it won’t go well for them.

 

BIGGEST LOSER
Vergil Ortiz

Ortiz seemed to be a in good place after overcoming a blood disorder and long COVID, which has limited his activity over the past few years. He told Boxing Junkie going into his scheduled fight with fellow 147-pound contender Eimantas Stanionis on Saturday in San Antonio that he was as healthy as he has been in years. Then disaster struck again. He had to pull out of the fight only two days beforehand reportedly because of dehydration and fatigue in a failed attempt to make the 147-pound weight limit. That leaves him with only one fight under his belt in two years and nothing scheduled, which once again puts the gifted boxer-puncher’s career in a holding pattern. The good news for him is that he should be able to bounce back quickly if his inability to make weight was the only issue. He almost certainly will move on from Stanionis and come back at 154 pounds, which should eliminate problems making weight and present a new group of potential opponents (Tim Tszyu, Brian Mendoza, Erickson Lubin and Sebastian Fundora, among others). And he has one more thing going for him: time. He’s only 25 years old. Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs) has all the ability in the world. Once he finally gets past this series of frustrating challenges he has a good chance of realizing his vast potential.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

One must feel for Stanionis, who had a big fight snatched out from under him after a long, hard training camp atter enduring two previous postponements. Let’s hope he gets a compelling opponent in the next month or so. Ennis called him out after his victory but he wouldn’t be ready to go again until late in the year, which might not work for Stanionis. Something has to break the 28-year-old Lithuanian’s way, doesn’t it?  … News item: Anthony Joshua (25-3, 22 KOs) and Dillian Whyte (29-3, 19 KOs) will meet on Aug. 12 in London. I wouldn’t like the matchup if it were a stand-alone event. Joshua has already knocked out Whyte, who has demonstrated that he can’t win big fights. However, the fight makes sense for Joshua. No. 1, it will do well businesswise in the U.K. No. 2, it gives him a second fight under new trainer Derrick James, which leads directly to No. 3: Joshua reportedly intends to meet Deontay Wilder late in the year. He’ll need all the work he can get in for that showdown which is one of the most-compelling possible matchups at any weight. This is a big year for the former heavyweight champion from England.

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