Jaron Ennis doesn’t need any undue pressure at this stage of his career. He’s only 23. And I hesitate to read too much into his knockout victory over Juan Carlos Abreu on Saturday because the Dominican’s limitations are obvious.
Still, I have to say it: Ennis reminds me of one of his role models, Roy Jones Jr.
Ennis’ style is similar to Jones’ when the latter was at his peak, fighting patiently – with his hands down much of the time – and then exploding with unusual speed and power to overwhelm his opponents.
I didn’t particularly like when Jones’ hands were at his waist but he had the reflexes to get away with it when he was at his best. Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) will be OK for the time being.
Abreu, who came in three-plus pounds overweight, didn’t know what hit him. The look on his face the first few times he ate Ennis’ uber-quick, hard shots said to me, “What the hell is this?” The underdog was as durable as billed for four-plus rounds and then he became too familiar with the canvas.
Ennis, a fiery finisher, put Abreu (23-6-1, 21 KOs) down once in the fifth and twice more in the sixth – all three knockdowns coming within little more than a minute – to end the slaughter.
How dominating was Ennis? I don’t rely too heavily on CompuBox statistics but sometimes they provide a valuable perspective on certain fights. Consider the numbers in this one:
Ennis outlanded Abreu overall 117-23. That’s as one-sided as it gets. He landed 39.3% of his punches (298), Abreu 14.6% (157). Even more striking were the power punches: Ennis landed 92 of 165, 55.8%, which is off-the-charts accuracy.
And Ennis became the first to knock out Abreu, who went the distance in losses to Humberto Soto, Jamal James, Alex Martin, Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Alexander Besputin. That’s a big statement.
In other words, Ennis couldn’t have performed much better than he did on Saturday.
That doesn’t mean he’ll perform on that level when he steps up his opposition. He probably won’t dominate the top 154-pounders, gifted fighters like Jermell Charlo, Jeison Rosario, Erickson Lubin, Julian Williams and Tony Harrison.
It remains to be seen whether he’s the next Jones, which is an extremely high bar. I believe he’s special, though. And I won’t be the least bit surprised if he ends becoming one of the top fighters in the world.
You have to feel for Javier Molina. The 2008 U.S. Olympian rebuilt a broken career and seemed to be on the verge of realizing his potential only to lose a wide decision and his momentum against Jose Pedraza on Saturday in Las Vegas.
Molina (22-3, 9 KOs) is only 30. I hope he learns from the setback and gets back to work. The talent is still there and he’s relatively fresh. It would be a shame for him to give up now.
Pedraza? Well, he’s just a bad man.
The former two-division titleholder from Puerto Rico seemed to be in decline when he was stopped by Gervonta Davis and lost decisions to Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jose Zepeda in a span of seven fights between 2017 and last year.
Some thought he was finished as an elite fighter.
He obviously had a different perspective. He bounced back from the Zepeda loss to dominate both Mikkel LesPierre and Molina, thus repairing his credentials as a bona fide threat to the best 140-pounders.
Indeed, he looked terrific Saturday night in the MGM Grand “bubble,” outboxing and methodically wearing down a good all-around fighter in Molina. He looked like the young man who won major belts at 130 and 135 pounds.
Could Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) have similar success against, say, the winner of a projected title-unification fight between Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor? That’s hard to say. The 140-pound beltholders are among the best fighters in the world regardless of weight.
I wouldn’t put anything past the fighter we saw on Saturday, though. He looked that good.
“I do believe I’m ready for a world title opportunity,” he said after the Molina fight. “Whoever it happens to be between Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez, I want the winner of that fight.”
I don’t understand the way Erickson Lubin, Terrell Gausha and Tugstsogt Nyambayar fought Saturday night on Showtime.
Lubin, who fought Gausha in the main event, was the least egregious offender. He didn’t do much in the first seven rounds of the fight but he didn’t have to. He was winning. Then, when Gausha picked up his pace, so did Lubin.
That said, Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs) had hoped to show the world that he belonged in the conversation with the best fighters in the deep 154-pound division. You must fight with more fire than he did to accomplish that.
Lubin emerged victorious but he didn’t make the statement he had hoped to make.
Gausha? I’m still scratching my head. He threw an average of 31 punches per round in the first seven rounds, landing 4.3 per stanza. In other words, he wasn’t there. And it’s difficult to win a 12-round fight when you arrive in Round 8.
The former Olympian was in a title eliminator. A victory would’ve set up an opportunity to realize a dream. Gausha (21-2-1, 10 KOs) didn’t fight like it, at least not until it was too late.
Nyambar, fighting for the first time since he lost to a wide decision to Gary Russell Jr., also had hoped to demonstrate that is among the best featherweights. And he looked the part early in the fight, putting Cobie Breedy down in each of the first two rounds.
Then the hard-punching Mongolian allowed himself to be outworked the rest of the way by a more determined fighter in Breedy, who won six of the final 10 rounds on two cards and nine of 10 on the third.
The final scores were 114-113 and 114-112 for Nyambayar and 115-111 for Breedy. One just scored the first round 10-9 for Nyambayar in spite of the knockdown.
Like Lubin, Nyambayar (12-1, 9 KOs) had his hand raised. That’s the objective. However, even in victory, his stock might’ve slipped.
I can’t get in the heads of the fighters. I don’t know why some of them fail to throw punches at a rate that puts them in position to win or look good regardless of the result. I suspect many of them, after watching the fight on video that night or the next day, say to themselves or those around them: “Damn, I wish I had been a little busier.”