People that don’t enjoy Boots Ennis probably didn’t or would not have enjoyed Vince Carter.
Yeah, I said it.
For those who are young, which is awesome, you will probably outlive me, and you are the future of the world, Vince Carter was one of the best dunkers in NBA history, and in my opinion, the best dunker ever.
Yet, after Vince Carter’s 2000 Slam Dunk Contest, it became popular to criticize him. Carter in that dunk contest did three of the hardest dunks seen at the time, or ever for that matter, all on his first attempt.
“Oh, it doesn’t translate to winning,” or “…he needs to evolve as a player…” said a rando “critics” hating on Vince Carter.
Uh….can’t we just enjoy someone who does really great dunks, and is fun to watch?
Plus, the talent that was Vince Carter evolved into an effective three-point shooter on the Orlando Magic when Dwight Howard became one of the new faces of the NBA. I say that to say, often times talent that stands out stands out for a reason. Greatness lets itself be known…
Move ahead 22 years, boxing has a new exciting contender who is turning into must-see TV: Jaron “Boots” Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs, click here for BoxRec).
Boots is not dissimilar to Vince Carter or Blake Griffin in their prime, in that the contest is only half of what you’re watching for, as those players submitted offense that seemed to be once in a lifetime. Boots Ennis, age 25, is knocking out people in legendary fashion, not unlike a prime Blake Griffin dunking on a helpless player and putting them on a poster.
The way Ennis is knocking out people it looks more like a teenager playing a video game against a hapless parent than it does two world-class boxers.
Yet, it seems we in boxing can't have nice things. So much so that you are hearing the genius squad calling Boots a “weight bully” as if Ennis doesn’t bust his butt to make the weight of 147 pounds. As though weight alone is all that he is doing to be great.
Ennis is everything I have asked of a prize-fighter. But too many fans’ blind allegiance to promoters and boxing ideologies have corrupted a vocal minority of the sport's hardcore. They bash young fighters who do not align with their fixed views of the sport. Not on the right side of the street? Then you are by default not all that.
In short, Ennis is to me the most exciting fighter in the sport right now, riding a 19-fight KO streak if you look past his first-round no-contest against Chris van Heerden. (Ennis hurt van Heerden in round one, but a massive cut from a head clash halted the bout.) Here is one stoppage, of Thomas Dulorme on Oct. 30, 2021, below:
Is Boots the goods? I think so, but who knows? Does it matter? No.
Boots is one of the most enjoyable fighters in the too-often painfully boring sport of boxing. Boxing is a sport I love, but let's face it outside of the past few years we rarely got great or even good fights and often great fighters were an acquired taste to watch. Watching some of the “master class professors” is akin to watching Bobby Fischer down Boris Spassky. The pace is slow, you appreciate the subtle wizardry, and yes, you need to be a fan of high-level chess to dig it. Jusr as you have to be a fan of “skills pay the bills” so-called “artisans” to embrace fully so many of the new breed of all-stars.
The icons stand out, the great ones have to be explained – Ennis circa 2022 feels to me iconic, like a Bill Russell, a Kobe Bryant, more so than a two-time MVP like a Karl Malone.
It is rare to find a fighter who exudes so much excitement and energy, and yet, now Boots has become so successful we are starting to see detractors even before he has achieved securing a world title. In Ennis' last fight against Custio Clayton, a world-class fighter, Ennis stopped his foe. Last year, he stopped Sergey Lipinets, a former world champion.
The guys with less political capital in the sport of boxing are forced into fights with Ennis, while the top guys are not keen to see how good he is. Honestly, if I advised them I wouldn't want to know either.
Ennis feels like the boogeyman, and now we’re hearing rumors of him possibly facing Keith “One-Time” Thurman, a fighter who had all the momentum in the last decade, only for injuries and inactivity to derail his career. Thurman, who turns 34 in November, should be a hall-of-famer, but his goodwill with the fans is gone.
After beating top tier fighters of his era, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, he took time away, and in that span, Errol Spence Jr. acquired those same wins.
Without losing to Spence, Thurman’s inactivity passed the torch to Spence, and now Thurman in soundbites seems peeved and frustrated at his status in the welterweight division in history. He’s seemingly been left at the train station, irrelevant in the modern era between the two greats of the time, Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr.
I love seeing “Boots” Ennis fight and I’m eagerly waiting for the night he gets challenged, when he has to show us everything as he keeps ascending. We still haven’t seen a complete performance from him, as fighters are unable to stand up to his power just yet at the world-class level. Thurman offers an interesting option as a heavy test to Boots, but honestly, I can't see many picking Thurman if they were to fight.
As I age and get more bitter, I am learning to be more grateful. Fighters like “Boots” Ennis don't come around all that often, so please enjoy him. I know I am, just like I did with Vince Carter, and just like I did with Blake Griffin.