Comparing Gary Antuanne Russell to Jaron “Boots” Ennis!

By Ken Hissner: In December of 2015, they met for the fourth time in the Olympic trials. Gary Antuanne Russell won for the third time in four meetings with Jaron “Boots” Ennis.

Russell would continue to fight another twelve amateur fights, winning nine of them, including three in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Riocentro, Brazil, losing in the third round to Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin “Fayzi” Gaibnazarov (now 9-1 as a pro ) who took three split decisions starting with Russell in the quarter-finals.

Prior to this, Russell competed in the Sarhadci Olympic Center in Baku. He won four matches then lost to Richardson Hitchins of New York by walk/over, who he had defeated in two previous matches.

Ennis had defeated Hitchins twice in 2015, including the National Golden Gloves quarter-final, then going on to win the championship. Russell won the 2014 National Golden Gloves. In the Olympic trials, Ennis won their first match but lost the next two.

While Russell was continuing his amateur career, Ennis would turn professional in April of 2016. He would go onto go 8-0 with five in Philly before the year was out for the young Philadelphian. He would move up to welterweight while Russell stayed at super lightweight.

In the tenth fight for Ennis, he was tossed to the canvas by a frustrated James Winchester, 20-15., Upon rising, Ennis would go on to give Winchester a “Philly ass whipping” as if to carry him instead of finishing him off . Winchester would never fight again.

It would be nine months after the Olympics before Russell would turn professional in May of 2017. This writer covered his thirteenth fight at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA. As he was going to the dressing room afterward, I asked, “when are you going to fight boots again?” He replied, “anytime!”

Jaron Ennis boxing photo and news image

In Russell’s most recent fight this past weekend for the second time, he tipped the scale at his highest weight of 139 ½, for his fifteenth straight stoppage over his most experienced opponent, former WBC Light Welterweight champion Viktor “The Iceman’ Postol, 31- 3, with a late last round stoppage after winning every round.

Like Russell, the most experienced Ennis defeated was also a former champion in his twenty-eighth fight stopping IBF Light Welterweight champion Sergey “Samurai” Lipinets, 16-1-1, knocking him out in six rounds in April of 2021.

At this point of their careers, Russell is trying to break into the world ratings, but his win over No. 4 WBC Postol should do that. While Ennis is top-rated in the IBF, No. 3 in the WBA, No. 5 in WBO, and No. 6 in the WBC. He is 28-0 with 26 stoppages and one no decision fighting for the vacant IBO world title in December of 2020.

Both boxers are 5:10, with Russell, 25, and Ennis, 24, both born in June. Russell is also a southpaw, while Ennis orthodox has fought entire fights southpaw. Both are trained by their fathers, Gary Russell, Sr., and Derek “Bozy” Ennis, Sr.

Ennis is scheduled to fight Custio “War Machine” Clayton, 19-0-1 (12), of Canada, WBO No. 7 and IBF No. 13, possibly in April.
Russell is managed by Al Haymon, while Ennis is co-managed by his father and Cameron Dunkin. Neither is signed by a promoter, while Ennis has been fighting on Showtime for at least his last four fights.

Among those Russell has beaten are Luis “Loco” Castillo, 20-4, and Jovanie “El Lobito” Santiago, 14-1-1. Ennis has beaten Armando “Macho” Alvarez, 18-0, Bakhtiyar “Bakha Bullet” Eyubov, 14-1-1, Juan Carlos “Merengue” Abreu, 23-5-1 and Thomas “Cordero” Dulorme, 25-5-1 .

Possibly in 2023, both will be world champions, though at different weight classes unless Russell moves up. With WBA, WBO, WBC, and IBF Super Lightweight champion Josh “The Tartan Tornado” Taylor, 19-0 (13), saying he is moving up to welterweight that would leave four belts vacant for Russell to go after.

Ennis is looking to get a shot at the winner of the April 16th unification fight between IBF and WBC World champion Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr., 27-0 (21) and WBA Super World champion Yordenis “54 Milagros” Ugas, 27-4 (12). The other world champion is WBO’s Terence “Bud” Crawford, 38-0 (29), who last defended in December, stopping the former IBF and WBC champion Shawn “Showtime” Porter, who recently said, “Ennis is overrated!” Ennis replied, “come out of retirement and fight me!”

The current IBO World champion is Daniya “Kazakh Thunder” Yeleussinov, 11-0 (6), of KAZ and Miami, FL, who won the vacant title in December, defeating Juan Hernan Leal, 15-1, by decision. The latter is no longer in their top 100 rankings. Go figure.

Ennis couldn’t get a USBA vacant title fight when he was No. 1, and now at No. 3, IBO is doubtful he will get a shot. Another shooting off his mouth is No. 1 ranked Virgil Ortiz, Jr., 18-0 (18), in the IBO, WBO, and WBC, while No. 2 in the WBA No. 4 IBF (one behind Ennis), saying he would beat Ennis.

Ennis is possibly the most “avoided boxer in the division” and has been. Whether Russell and Ennis will ever collide or not, both are a sure bet to be world champions in 2022 if they get the opportunity!

While Russell comes from a fighting family with a father who was a former world champion, so does Ennis come from a fighting family, and he is not the most feared but “the most avoided fighter in boxing!”


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