After his original plan went by the wayside, Jaron “Boots” Ennis will reluctantly take on unheralded, unproven welterweight Karen Chukhadzhian on January 7 at the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. The scheduled 12-round bout will serve in support of the Gervonta “Tank” Davis-Hector Luis Garcia Showtime Pay-Per-View main event.
The 25-year-old phenom has been forced to play the waiting game despite best efforts put forward by his team to land him a fight with the two best welterweights in the world – WBC/WBA/IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr. and WBO champion Terence Crawford.
Ennis petitioned the IBF for a mandatory title shot at Spence back in October, but Ennis has been forced to wait a bit longer. That's because the WBC also ordered Spence in recent months to make a mandatory defense against former unified belt holder Keith Thurman.
Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) last fought in April, when he stopped Yordenis Ugas to unify their three world titles. And Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) outpointed Mario Barrios over 12 rounds last February. Efforts to make a super fight between Spence and Crawford failed when negotiations prolonged into the fall, and the latter opted to take a stay-busy fight against David Avanesyan, scoring a sixth-round knockout on December 10 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Furthermore, Spence suffered a leg injury last month when a 14-year-old stole his parent's car, ran a red light, and crashed head-on into Spence's SUV, which was totaled during the carnage. Thankfully, Spence escaped relatively unscathed, albeit he complained of a leg injury during an Instagram Live session recorded during the immediate aftermath while awaiting the arrival of authorities to conduct an investigation. It appears Spence will be okay, as he is expected to face Thurman in April.
As for Ennis, he believed he had a deal secured to face WBA “Regular” welterweight champion. [Eimantas] Stanionis. However, following a petition to the WBA from another rising 147-pound contender, Vergil Ortiz Jr. (19-0, 19 KOs), the sanctioning body ordered their secondary titleholder to defend his crown against the hard-hitting star. Shortly after, Golden Boy Promotions, Ortiz's promoter, secured a purse bid victory with a $2.3 million winning figure.
Much to the chagrin of Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs), he will now take on Chukhadzhian (21-1, 11 KOs), who has yet to face any opponents of note. That pales in comparison to his opponent, who has racked up 19 consecutive knockout wins. Furthermore, in his last three fights, Ennis has defeated the likes of Sergey Lipinets (former junior welterweight world champion, Thomas Dulorme (former title contender), and Custio Clayton (top contender).
Let's break it down.
This is a special fighter vs. a guy virtually no one has heard of, with the exception of a few folks in Ukraine, Russia, and Germany. Of his 22 fights, 15 of them have taken place in his native Ukraine, followed by two in Russia, while his last four have been contested in Germany, where he currently resides.
There isn't much tape of Chukhadzhian available, but he passes the eye test offensively. Make no mistake; this guy knows how to fight. He has a good jab and is fleet-footed; he knows how to move around the ring well. Moreover, he counters effectively, and his shots are crisp. But there's a problem. Chukhadzhian can jab, but he can't block one. He lacks very basic fundamentals, such as keeping your hands up.
It's like a junior hockey player who has good speed and can really move the puck up ice but is a walking concussion because they can't keep their head up. You should call that player Teddy Icewater. While Chukhadzhian has slick head movement and moves his waist very line, he is overreliant on that technique. It's almost like he's video-gaming it defensively and spamming it with the analog stick. That may work against international-level competition, but this is ‘Boots’ Ennis, people. A poor man's imitation of Pernell Whitaker will not win the fight.
Ennis's piercing power, speed, and astute boxing skills will ultimately overwhelm Chukhadzhian. He will do enough to survive a few rounds, but as soon as Ennis figures him out, Chukhadzhian's corner will be waving the white flag.
‘BOOTS' ENNIS VS. CHUKHADZHIAN PREDICTION:
‘Boots' Ennis by fourth-round TKO.