By Steve Kim Updated on July 10, 2024

Welcome Back Boots, and Philly?

Picture for Welcome Back Boots, and Philly?

This Saturday Jaron 'Boots' Ennis defends his IBF welterweight title versus David Avanesyan from the Wells Fargo Center. While certainly not the best or biggest fight possible in this division, this still is a bit of a special occasion.

This is the first outing for Boots in his hometown of Philadelphia since 2018.

Yes, what was once considered a true 'fight city' in America, is now just one that still produces boxers, but has a diminishing gym scene, and not that many cards taking place.  Certainly not major ones that are held in their big buildings.

Picture for Welcome Back Boots, and Philly?DAZN/Matchroom

Long gone are the days of the Spectrum regularly hosting inter-city battles and championship bouts. 

Where have you gone Russell Peltz?

But if there is a young man who can at least bring some life -- and significant events -- back to 'the City of Brotherly Love' it is the 27 year old Ennis. For years he has been touted as a blue-chip talent, and many who are familiar with the Philly boxing scene believed he was their best pure talent post-Bernard Hopkins.

Back a few years ago in that above linked column, I asked the respected Stephen 'Breadman' Edwards if Ennis had a higher ceiling than 'the Executioner'.

Picture for Welcome Back Boots, and Philly?Showtime Sports

"I don't know if you're phrasing it right," countered Edwards,"because he still has to apply his talent to the top level. So I'll say: he's the most talented young fighter that I've seen. But Bernard Hopkins was a champion for 20 years. He's one of the top five ever in middleweight history, he actually had a hell-of-a light heavyweight run.  So I don't want to go THAT far because it's more than talent."

Fair enough.  As of right now, while Hopkins has his permanent home in Canastota, as a Hall-of-Famer. 'Boots' has only won a welterweight title after Terence Crawford moved out of the division. Last year's bout with Roiman Villa was for their interim belt, before he was elevated to their full title. 

Ennis isn't just skilled, but he fights with a certain flair. Possessing power in both hands, Ennis can switch-hit, and he isn't just satisfied with just going the distance. He is a boxer-puncher that looks to entertain and impress. There is an artistic quality to what he does. 

Picture for Welcome Back Boots, and Philly?Showtime Sports

The reality is that Ennis was the type of young contender who established champions would only fight if they absolutely had to. Unfortunately, as Crawford and Spence spent four years circling each other, it created a logjam in the division. They finally met last summer -- and then both moved up.

Ennis in the past few years was in a sort of purgatory. While he was gaining exposure on Showtime, and putting forth impressive performances, he was also inactive for long stretches. When the network dropped boxing, he was in a bit of limbo. Contrary to popular belief, he was not a PBC fighter. Ennis boxed just once in 2022, and then last year after having two fights under his belt by early July, he sat dormant the rest of 2023.

Jaron Ennis Knocks Out Villa In Impressive Fashion | SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING

Going into this weekend, he will be coming off a full year layoff. Since that time, he has signed with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, who hope to turn him into an American star. They immediately booked this fight for him in Philadelphia. The signs indicate that this event will draw well over 10,000 fans. The hope is that Matchroom will be able to keep him active, and eventually land him the fights he -- and the fans -- yearn for.

Picture for Welcome Back Boots, and Philly?

Perhaps he can be the boxer to revive this once vibrant boxing market. The reality is that Hopkins really didn't fight all that much in the city after becoming a middleweight champion. Danny Garcia spent most of his run as a world-class junior welterweight at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. Stephen Fulton (remember him?), who not too long ago was a unified champion at 122, hasn't fought in the state of Pennsylvania since 2017.

So welcome back 'Boots', and hopefully Philadelphia. 



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Meanwhile on Saturday night, ESPN+ is streaming the Top Rank card from the Palm in Las Vegas. The main event is unified middleweight champion, Janibek Alimkhanuly, who faces Andrei Mikhalovich.... Also on this card is a lightweight contest between Raymond Muratalla, and former 130-pound belt-holder, Tevin Farmer...It's Shakur Stevenson versus the world on Twitter....Has Ryan Garcia finally hit rock bottom?...I can be reached at



About Author
Welcome Back Boots, and Philly?
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.