The rising welterweight star proves he's more than ready for the division's elite with a dazzling, dominant performance Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
Rising welterweight star Jaron “Boots” Ennis retained his Interim IBF Welterweight Title with a 10th-round TKO over tough-as-nails 147-pound contender Roiman Villa in the SHOWTIME main event Saturday night from Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
My performance was good, I could have listened to my corner a little more,” said Ennis, who wobbled Villa several times throughout the bout before recording the stoppage 1:27 into the 10th round. “My dad wanted me to throw more body shots and give him more angles and not stand in front of him. I was getting hit with shots I wasn’t supposed to get hit with. I appreciate Villa taking this fight. Hats off to him and his family. I appreciate him for coming in and being a warrior.”
In front of a friendly crowd not far from his Philadelphia home, Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) stayed in control early and picked his spots against the game Villa (26-2, 24 KOs), dominating early with his jabs before brutalizing Villa with power punches across the middle rounds.
After a closely fought rounds three through five, Ennis hurt Villa for the first time in round six, staggering him badly with an overhand right. Villa showed the fortitude that has earned him a high spot in the welterweight rankings and continued throwing to survive the round. However he appeared to lose some of his early power after that shot.
“I was breaking him down and I came out victorious,” said Ennis. “I knew he was a tough kid. I just had to be smart and take my time and keep touching and touching and eventually I was going to get him. I was setting him up.”
Ennis continued to hammer away in rounds seven and eight, sending blood flying from Villa with numerous snapping shots. Villa received long looks from the ringside doctor after rounds seven and eight but continued to soldier forward in hopes of changing the tide. After a slower paced round nine, Ennis closed the fight in style early in round 10, landing a vicious one-two that put Villa tumbling to the mat as referee David Fields stopped it.
“I hit him with a big left hand and I knew he was going down,” said Ennis. “So I was waiting for the left shot and I threw a hook and I knew he was going so I just threw one more and that was it. I knew they were going to stop it.”
Ennis, who dominated the CompuBox stats, including a 164 to 57 edge in power shots, stated his intention to continue to stay active against the top fighters in the star-studded welterweight division.
“I want the winner of Errol Spence and Terence Crawford,” said Ennis. “Let’s make it happen. I’ll take on Eimantas Stanionis in a heartbeat. I want to get into the ring one more time before the end of the year to make it three fights. Stanionis, Keith Thurman, Yordenis Ugas, all the top guys out there. Let’s make these fights happen.”
In the co-main event, middleweight contender Marquis Taylor (15-1-2, 1 KO) scored an early knockdown and rode that to a unanimous decision (99-90, 96-93 twice) over the previously unbeaten Yoelvis Gomez (6-1, 5 KOs) after 10 rounds as Taylor was able to blunt Gomez’s power by fighting effectively on the inside.
“This is what I wanted to do my whole life,” said Taylor. It took me a long time and a lot of battles to make it here. But it was all worth it. I proved to myself that I can be in here with anyone and overcome and prevail. This is my second weight class in nine months. I proved it to myself. It’s not about the weight. It’s about skill and hard work and trusting my team.”
As he promised during the fight week press conference, Taylor was victorious against the fifth fighter who entered the ring against him with an undefeated record. He got his offense going early on as he landed an overhand right in the second round that dropped an off-balance Gomez, the first time the Cuban had been down in his career.
“I was working inside and staying close and boom,” said Taylor. “Luckily when he threw his shot he kind of fell off balance and I helped him.”
“I lost my balance when I hit the canvas,” said Gomez. “He threw his punch trying to see if it landed and I got caught. I hurt him too, but I couldn’t take him down.”
In a fight that was largely fought on the inside, with frequent tie-ups and instances of holding from both fighters, it was Taylor who consistently landed the cleaner blows, especially across the first half of the fight. Gomez had gained a reputation as a power puncher, but was unable to hurt Taylor despite focusing on power punches throughout the bout.
“At first I’m not going to lie, at the beginning of the fight it was hard because he’s really strong,” said Taylor. “He was doing what he’s supposed to do and that’s use his weight and push me down, so I had to get into his midsection and break him down, so I started tapping that belly and pushing in.”
“I’m frustrated,” said Gomez. “The ref kept getting in the way and wouldn’t let me work in the range I wanted, which was short distance and making Taylor feel me. This is professional boxing, it’s not too much to ask for him to let me go do my job. I’m gonna keep working hard and come back even better. You can count on that.”
Gomez looked to gain some momentum with a strong sixth round, perhaps his best frame of the fight, but even then Taylor was able to punctuate the round by landing a big power shot at the bell. Gomez continued to press through the final rounds, but Taylor stood tough and offered enough resistance to clinch the victory on the cards. Overall, Taylor held a 160 to 120 advantage in punches landed.
“We’re fighting at 154 and 160 to keep the window of opportunity as wide as possible,” said Taylor. “Right now we’re calling myself a two-weight division fighter. I’d fight Tim Tszyu because he’s not getting that Jermell Charlo fight. I would like to fight him or anyone in the top five or top 10. It’s time for me to fight the best.”
In the televised opener, rising lightweight contender Edwin De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) earned a one-sided unanimous decision over Joseph Adorno (17-3-2, 14 KOs) after 10 rounds of action. De Los Santos made it three straight victories by scores of 100-90 twice and 99-91.
“We came prepared to show our boxing skills in this fight tonight and that’s exactly what we did,” said De Los Santos.“The game plan was to keep him at bay and to box him all night and to counter him when he pressed the attack. I wanted to show the boxing world that I have boxing ability. I’m not just a big puncher. I’m a boxer also.”
"The strategy was to box him, but he's a southpaw and he was hard to figure out,” said Adorno. “He's the best southpaw I've faced. He was well-prepared and knew how to manage the ring.”
The Dominican Republic’s De Los Santos found a home for his straight left hand early and often to control the tide against Adorno. His hand and foot speed advantage made it tough for Adorno to get any momentum offensively, as Adorno was forced to rely on counter hooks that too often fell short of their target.
“I can’t tell you all the tricks we did in training,” said De Los Santos. “But we did a lot of hills, climbing, swimming, a lot of boxing, sparring. Again, I don’t want to reveal all of the secrets but that’s some of what was done for this fight.”
"Moving down in weight did play into my performance a little, but I really don't want to make any excuses,” said Adorno, who’s previous four fights came at 140-pounds. “I shouldn't have taken this fight right away, I should have fought at 137-pounds first. It is what it is though, he was the better man. He did his job."
De Los Santos had stopped nine of his previous 10 opponents, but showed off his boxing skill and movement over the course of the 10 rounds. His dominance showed up in the punch stats as he out-landed Adorno 144 to 37, including an impressive 63% connect rate on power shots.
With the victory, De Los Santos continued to set his sights on the top fighters in the division.
“I have to just talk to my promoter about what’s next, but I’ll take care of anyone at 135,” said De Los Santos. “I have the potential to be more disciplined and show my boxing skills even more.”
Prior to the telecast, the SHOWTIME BOXING COUNTDOWN streamed live on the SHOWTIME SPORTS YouTube channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page and was topped by 2020 Dominican Olympian Euri Cedeño (5-0, 5 KOs) delivering a blistering first-round stoppage over William Townsel (5-1, 4 KOs) after referee Eric Dali waived off the action 1:41 into the round. Cedeño dropped Townsel early in the round with a pair of hard straight left hands, and upon Townsel rising to his feet, landed two more power shots with the left to force an end to the bout.
Undefeated heavyweight Steven “XXL” Torres (6-0-1, 6 KOs) score a third-round stoppage over the previously unbeaten James Evans (6-1-1, 6 KOs). Torres and Evans fought to a draw last year, but Torres finally hurt Evans early in the round and took advantage of the opportunity, forcing referee Eric Dali to halt the action at 1:08. Opening up the live stream, super welterweight prospect Dwyke Flemmings (4-0, 4 KOs) dominated Henry Rivera (2-1, 1 KO) and earned a third-round stoppage at 1:57 into the frame.
For a closer look at Ennis vs Villa, check out our fight night page.