Philly boxer Jaron “Boots” Ennis will take another step up in competition when he battles South African Chris Van Heerden on Dec. 19 on Showtime in a 10-round welterweight match.
The fight will take place in the “bubble” at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on the undercard of the Nonito Donaire-Emmanuel Rodriguez main event, a World Boxing Council bantamweight championship bout.
Van Heerden (28-2, 12 KOs) has won his last five fights. His last loss was against current welterweight champion Errol Spence via TKO in 2015.
Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) has been adamant about fighting better competition, but he’s had trouble getting guys to box him. Many boxers don’t feel that the payout is worth the risk that comes with stepping in a ring with the 23-year-old rising welterweight.
Ennis and his father/trainer, Derek “Bozy” Ennis, want to face common opponents of top welterweights to show that he belongs. Van Heerden is Ennis’ opportunity to take care of his opponent the way Spence did in 2015.
Van Heerden, who is Ennis’ biggest test, lasted eight rounds against Spence. Ennis has knocked out his last 16 opponents in the first six rounds.
Ennis last fought on Showtime against Juan Carlos Abreu (23-6-1) on Sept. 19. He made a statement by becoming the first boxer to knock out the 33-year-old Dominican. The power was on display when Ennis dropped Abreu twice within the first minute of the sixth round.
Van Heerden’s first career loss was a split-decision defeat against Nikola Stevanovic in 2010. It’s a fight that Van Heerden still believes he won. He’s 33 and hasn’t fought since Aug. 17, 2019, but the Spence defeat is the lone blemish since 2010.
Ennis was originally scheduled to fight Thomas Dulorme, who has fought elite welterweights Jamal James, Terence Crawford and Yordenis Ugas, among others. Dulorme tested positive for COVID-19 and was removed from the card. Van Heerden is a solid replacement who hasn’t faced the level of competition as Dulorme but is a good stepping stone for Ennis.