Offbeat training methods have Jaron Ennis on cusp of welterweight contention

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4 min read

One of the most famous pictures in boxing history is of the legendary former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali underwater in a swimming pool throwing a punch.

It was taken in the mid-1960s, not long after he defeated Sonny Liston to become the heavyweight champion of the world. The photograph was evidence that Ali would do anything it took to prepare himself for his bouts.

Jaron “Boots” Ennis, who on Saturday (9 p.m. ET, Showtime) will face Sergey Lipinets in the most significant bout of his career, has a better idea than most of the challenges that Ali faced while training underwater.

His father, Derrick “Bozy” Ennis, uses unconventional training methods, one of which has him running on a treadmill which is in water that comes up to his chest.

“It’s harder to control your breathing when you’re running on a treadmill that is underwater,” Ennis said. “It’s something different, and I like it. … It feels like there’s a thousand-pound weight when you’re running. It’s crazy. It’s hard to explain. You’d have to do it, but it’s real different.”

Such training gets him into superb condition, he said, and he feels he can go as hard in the final minute of the 12th round as he does in the first minute of the opening round.

He’s one of the sport’s elite prospects, and still hasn’t gone more than six rounds. He comes from a fighting family — his brothers, Derek and Farah are also fighters, in addition to his father — so he has the genes. But Ennis’ work in the gym makes a difference he said in his ability to compete at a high-level.

“Everybody always says, ‘Oh, he’s never been past six rounds; how’s he [going to do if the fight goes long]?’ ” Ennis said. “But my team knows and the people who are around me in camp know. After the sixth round, I keep getting stronger and stronger. They see it when I spar, but it could be anything, drill work, anything. The more time you give me, the more I’m going to get better and stronger as we go on.”

Jaron Ennis, right, throws a right punch against Bakhtiyar Eyubov during the second round of a welterweight bout in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Jaron Ennis, right, throws a right punch against Bakhtiyar Eyubov during the second round of a welterweight bout in Atlantic City, N.J., Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Ennis: I will get the KO vs. Lipinets

He’s one of two unbeaten knockout artists in the welterweight division who is on the cusp of contention. Ennis, 23, is coming off a no contest with Chris van Heerden in December in which the fight was stopped because of a cut on van Heerden’s head caused by an inadvertent head butt.

Prior to that, Ennis had reeled off 16 consecutive knockouts.

Vergil Ortiz Jr., also 23, stopped Maurice Hooker in the seventh round last month and is 17-0 with 17 KOs. Ortiz has never gone past the seventh round.

If Ennis defeats Lipinets on Saturday, a fight with Ortiz would be highly attractive. Both are ready for the next level of competition and a fight between them would anoint the winner as the division’s next big thing.

Ennis worked out the day that Ortiz fought and though his plan was to watch the fight, he didn’t.

He had a good excuse, though, even though many who have not seen his father put a fighter through his paces may not understand it.

“I had a really hard workout that day and I got home and sat down and I just fell asleep, so I didn’t see it,” Ennis said, chuckling, of the Ortiz-Hooker fight. “I just work so hard when I’m in camp, I don’t have much time to do anything else but eat and sleep.”

The payoff should come on Saturday with yet another victory. Lipinets is a professional who won’t be intimidated by Ennis’ power, and it could set up for a slugfest.

But Ennis isn’t so sure, particularly because of the way Lipinets fights.

“We all know he’s going to come forward and be right there in front of me,” Ennis said. “His style plays perfectly into my style. If he’s coming forward, he’ll be running into everything and it’s perfect. It’s going to be a long night for him and I’m going to put on a dominating, punishing performance. I will get the knockout.”

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