Jaron “Boots” Ennis said he wanted to send a message to the entire welterweight division, and had a chance to do just that if he could become the first boxer to knock out Juan Carlos Abreu.
The message was delivered Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., when the 23-year-old Philadelphian stopped Abreu in the sixth round for his 16th straight knockout. All three judges had Ennis winning every round.
“I felt great tonight,” said Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs). “I was in there having my fun, then my dad said to stop playing with him, and that it’s time to take him out, so that’s what I did.”
Ennis dominated through four rounds, but this fight was longer than fans might have anticipated. He had knocked out each of his last 15 opponents within four rounds.
Still, it wasn’t much longer until the signature punch was landed. Ennis countered Abreu (23-6-1) and landed a right uppercut that sent the 33-year-old Dominican flailing to the canvas. The knockdown occurred in the last 15 seconds of the fifth round, so the bell had rung before Ennis could get back on the attack.
Abreu was never the same, and his legs turned into noodles in the sixth round. Ennis dropped him two more times within a minute before the referee stopped the fight.
“He was a good opponent who’s never been stopped," Ennis said. "I know he’s fought some tough guys in the past. Compare what I did to what they did. It shows the different skill level and attributes that I have.”
Before the knockdowns, things got chippy early in the fifth. Ennis was warned after a low blow and Abreu retaliated with one of his own, which resulted in a point being taken away. The referee separated the fighters, but the frustrated Abreu walked toward Ennis, which led to Ennis flinching at him. They were separated before things got ugly.
“He was frustrated because I was hitting him and making him look bad,” Ennis said. “He was doing anything he could do to not get stopped, even going for a DQ.”
Ennis was favored, but the fight had its obstacles. When Abreu showed up more than 3 pounds over the 147-pound weight limit, the boxers were forced to fight in 10-ounce gloves instead of 8.
The change had little impact on the fight. According to CompuBox, Ennis landed 92-of-165 power punches (55.8%). He landed 117 total punches in comparison to Abreu’s 23.
“I knew I was going to stop him," Ennis said. “I told you it was going to come. I just had fun with it. I’m different and I showed that tonight.”
The attention now turns to what’s next for Ennis. He’s past the point of being one of Philly’s rising stars. Boxing fans and figures everywhere are recognizing him as a true threat in the 147-pound division.
Ennis has 16 straight stoppages within six rounds. It’s time for a step up in competition, and the welterweight division is loaded with quality boxers.
“I made a statement tonight and stopped someone who’s never been stopped," he said. "Bring on the top 10 and top five guys or title eliminators. I’m coming for the championship next year.”