You had to feel sorry for Roiman Villa.
Jaron Ennis outboxed his fellow welterweight contender, kept his jab in his face, picked him apart with blows that would stop many fighters, methodically beat him up and finally delivered a brutal knockout in the 10th round Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Villa, as durable as they come, never stopped trying but he also never stood a realistic chance. Ennis, perhaps the best fighter in the world who has yet to fight for a major title, was just too good.
“I knew I was going to start breaking him up earlier,” Ennis said. “Pop (trainer Bozy Ennis) kept saying, ‘Just wait, not yet. You’re breaking him down, keeping taking your time. You’re going to get him.’ That’s what I did.
“I went back to having fun, being sharp, and I came out with a victory.”
Ennis, alternately fighting from orthodox and southpaw stances, flicked his jab to the head of Villa 26-2, 24 KOs) almost the entire fight. That alone made it difficult for the Venezuelan slugger to get anything accomplished in the mismatch.
However, Ennis used the jab to set up some of the most lethal power punches in the business. Villa clearly has one of the better chins in boxing but even he could endure only so much punishment before he could no longer continue.
Villa had his moments, particularly when Ennis gave into his brawling instincts. They engaged in a number of entertaining exchanges from close range, and Villa landed his share of eye-catching shots.
That was the exception, however. Ennis never engaged for too long, using his feet to move back out of harm’s way and continue his assault from a safer distance.
“My performance was good but a lot of things I could’ve done better,” Ennis said. “I could’ve listened to my corner a little more. My dad wanted more body shots and more angles. I was standing in front of him a little too much, getting hit with shots I wasn’t supposed to get hit with.
“But at the end of the day, you know.”
At the end of the day, Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) did what he expected to do: Score another knockout.
The pivotal shot was a straight left to the chin of Villa, which hurt him badly. Ennis followed with a right hook that put his wilting prey on the canvas just as referee David Fields was jumping between them, apparently intending to stop the fight.
Fields did so with a glassy-eyed Villas sitting on the bottom rope. The official time of the stopped was 1:27 of the 10th round.
The fact Villa lasted that long is a testament to his conditioning, determination and ability to take a punch.
“I’m not surprised,” Ennis said of his opponent’s durability. “I knew he was a tough kid. I just had to be smart, take my time, keep touching him. I knew I was going to get him.”
Now if he could only get a big fight.
Ennis’ performance underscored the notion that he’s a threat to anyone, including 147-pound kings Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr., who are scheduled to face one another for the undisputed championship on July 29.
Of course, Ennis would love to fight the winner. However, with the possibility of a Crawford-Spence rematch and the general unpredictability of boxing, Ennis isn’t counting on anything.
He told Boxing Junkie a week before the fight that he can do only one thing: be ready when the time comes. He sure looked ready on Saturday.
“I’ll take [Eimantas] Stanionis. [Vergil] Ortiz, his opponent, fell out or whatever [on Saturday],” he said. “I’ll take Stanionis in a heartbeat. I want to try to get back into the ring one more time late in the year. Let’s make it happen. Stanionis, Keith Thurman, [Yordenis] Ugas, Bud [Crawford], Spence, all the top guys out there.
“Let’s make these fights happen. Let’s get it poppin.”
Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie