‘Boots’ Ennis doesn’t deserve ’email champion’ label, Crawford couldn’t defend the title

By Chris Williams - 11/22/2023 - Comments

Trainer Stephen Edwards feels Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis doesn’t deserve the “email champion” label that some fans have given him after the IBF elevated him to their new welterweight champion after stripping Terence Crawford just three months after he won the title from Errol Spence.

Edwards says that Boots Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs) should have gotten his shot at the IBF title well before it came to this, as he’d been the interim 147-lb champion since January.

There was no hope of him getting to fight for the belt until after Crawford & Spence met for their rematch in the first quarter of 2024. If There were no rematch clause, Crawford would have been free to defend against Boots or vacate to avoid him.

Chris Williams suspects that Crawford would have vacated rather than risk his hide against Boots, but we’ll never know for sure because the rematch clause in the contract prevented fans from finding out what he would have done.

Given that Crawford & his trainer Brian ‘BoMac’ McIntyre had talked of wanting only the big fights, it’s reasonable to assume that he would have vacated or waited for the IBF to strip him.

Arguments against rematch clauses 

  • Contenders not getting the opportunity to fight for a belt. You get talented contenders that like Jaron Ennis not getting their chance to fight for the IBF belt because of a rematch clause that Crawford & Spence had in their contract.
  • Pointless rematches after a mismatch in the first fight. When the first fight has been as one-sided as the Crawford-Spence fight, it hurts boxing to have a second fight due to a rematch clause
  • Predictable outcomes. Unless the first fight was competitive, fans already know how the rematch will play out. Again, this hurts the sport.

IBF should have forced title shot for Boots

“Ennis was long overdue for a title shot, and they should have been forced a title shot for Ennis because he was the [IBF 147-lb] mandatory for a minute. He’s obviously the best contender at 147, and he’s the most deserving of a title shot,” said Stephen Edwards to Fighthype about Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.

Ideally, the IBF should have forced Errol Spence to defend against Boots when he still held the title instead of making him wait while he used up an entire year negotiating a fight with Crawford.

If the IBF had given Spence a deadline to defend against Boots, he would have likely would have been stripped before he fought Crawford, and there wouldn’t have been any problem.

Obviously, Spence wouldn’t have taken the risky fight with Ennis because he was focused on getting the big payday match with Crawford, so he would have been stripped if he didn’t do the right thing by vacating.

“I don’t think it was justifiably done to Terence Crawford because he just won the IBF belt,” said Edwards about the IBF stripping him and giving the strap to Boots Ennis.

Of course, it was the right thing for the IBF to do in stripping Crawford. Once it became clear that Crawford wasn’t going to defend against Boots next, what else could the IBF have done?

Without a step-aside deal in place to have Spence or Boots move out of the way, the IBF had to strip Crawford. If Crawford wanted to keep the belt, he could have arranged a step-aside deal with either of those fighters, and he’d still have his precious IBF title.

He didn’t do that, and it was clear that Crawford wasn’t interested in fighting Boots anyway, as he had his eyes on big money fights against Canelo Alvarez and Jermell Charlo.

“He’s getting scrutiny for being an email champion, but I’m not one of those people who say that belts don’t matter. What are you supposed to do” said Edwards.

“If you become a mandatory and you don’t get a title shot, and you wait over a year for your title shot and the fighter [Crawford] gets stripped, and you get the belt, no one has given me a good explanation on what Boots was supposed to do.”

Belts do matter

“Do you say, ‘No, I’m not going to take the belt?’ Well, guess what? Belts do matter,” said Edwards. “If you get a contract from a promoter or a network, winning a belt and defending it, you get more money in your contract then when you’re going for a title.”

In Boots Ennis’ case, being elevated to IBF welterweight champion made a huge difference because he was being avoided by the top fighters in the 147-lb division, who collectively saw him as not having anything to offer them. However, now that Boots holds the IBF belt, he has something to lure fighters like Keith Thurman or Spence to fight him.

“There’s stages of pay that you get. For title defenses, you make a certain amount. Every fighter dreams of hearing ‘The New’, and he [Ennis] was robbed of that. I don’t know what the kid was supposed to do,” said Edwards.

Boots was cheated out of being able to win the IBF belt in a title fight against Spence or Crawford, as that would have made a huge difference in terms of his marketability with the boxing public.

But, as we’ve seen with Devin Haney, it won’t slow Boots down from becoming a PPV star as long as he can get the fights he needs. That said, Crawford, Spence, and Thurman likely won’t bother fighting Boots because they’re getting old, and they won’t want to get chewed up by the young lion.

“Crawford and Ennis shouldn’t be getting any criticism over this. Again, I believe in belts,” said Edwards. “You get more money for belts and prestige, but all the interim and regular champions, all that stuff needs to be done away with.”

You can give Crawford criticism if he didn’t at least try to keep his IBF title by working a step-aside deal. If Crawford were to tell the fans that he tried his hardest to hold onto the belt by negotiating with Boots, you could give him a pass.

“The interim champions, that’s what’s creating all this stuff. There have been guys that have been interim champion for two years, three years. You’re not interim champion anymore if you’ve been interim champion over a year or two. That’s ridiculous,” said Edwards.

Interim champions and rematch clauses are two things boxing needs to do away with, as well as ‘regular’ champions and all those trinket belts the WBC hands out like candy.

“You should have a champion, and if a guy can’t defend his belt for a year or a year and a half, he should get stripped. The top two guys in the rankings, they get to fight for the belt, period,” said Edwards.

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