Jaron Ennis had promised a “dominant” and “seamless” early knockout of Custio Clayton before Saturday’s clash of unbeaten 147-pound contenders at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif.
“Everyone already knows how this fight is going to go. I’m going to put on a show. … I’m getting that knockout at the end of the night and making a statement,” Ennis had said before the fight.
The switch-hitting Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs) delivered on his words with his 19th straight knockout in the second round against Clayton (19-1-1, 12 KOs), before a near-sellout crowd of 7,406.
Ennis’ right hand landed just above Clayton’s left ear with 28 seconds remaining in the round, flooring the Canadian for good. Clayton crumpled to the canvas, unable to regain his feet as he wobbled around the ring and ultimately into the ropes before referee Ray Carona waved an end to the fight at the 2:49 mark.
“He had a high guard, so I was trying to come around with the right hook, but he leaned in, so I just threw an overhand,” said Ennis, who has scored 21 knockdowns in his past 11 fights and is believed to have won every round of his career.
“I thought he was going to get up because he was a durable, tough guy, and nobody’s ever stopped him, so I thought he was going to get up,” Ennis said of Clayton.
“But I saw him get up, and he fell over here, and he went over there, so I knew it was over with.”
Ennis’ demolition of Clayton continued the Philadelphia native’s pattern of destruction in the ring, highlighted by his ability to finish off opponents faster than more accomplished fighters previously had.
In April 2021, Ennis scored a sixth-round KO of Sergey Lipinets, who entered at 16–1–1 (12 KOs) but was knocked out for the first time.
Ennis has ranked himself the No. 1 welterweight ahead of Errol Spence Jr. and his unbeaten switch-hitting WBO counterpart and three-division champion Terence “Bud” Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs).
“Anybody right now can get it, but I’m the IBF’s No. 1 contender,” said Ennis before speaking directly about Spence after Saturday’s fight. “I think the big fish [Spence] is here himself, so it’s time to go fishing.”
“I’m either going to fight Errol Spence Jr. or Terence Crawford, or fight for a vacant belt. I feel like I’m going to get my opportunity sooner than later,” Ennis said.
Spence was indeed at ringside for the Ennis-Clayton bout and assessed Ennis after the fight during an interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray.
“He’s right there. He’s right on the edge. He’s hungry. He’s supposed to call everybody out. He’s supposed to call me and everybody out,” Spence said. “You’ve gotta be that hungry lion. I’m very high on him. I think he can fight, and he’s going to go a long way. I heard him say he wants to reel me in, but if you do that, you might catch something you don’t want.”
Spence is now focused on making the fight with Crawford, having last month vanquished Yordenis Ugas by 10th-round stoppage to add Ugas’ WBA crown to his IBF and WBC versions.
“I think it’s [Spence-Crawford] going to happen. It’s a fight I definitely want this year. So hopefully we can make it happen,” Spence said. ”I want it, he wants it, and I think we can come to terms and fight this year. We’re in the talking stages right now. He definitely wants the fight. [Manager] Al [Haymon] told me that he definitely wants the fight. That’s [Crawford] the guy I want to fight. …
“I’ve got three belts, he’s got one belt, and that’s all I need to become the undisputed welterweight champion of the world,” Spence said. “It’s something I’ve been adamant about and it’s something I really wanna do, so we’re gonna get it done.”
After winning easily on Saturday, Ennis summarized the Crawford-Spence challenge by saying: “It doesn’t matter to me who I’m facing. I want everybody and anybody. They can line ‘em up, and I’ll knock ‘em down. Doesn’t matter who it is.”
Edited by Richard Pretorius and Matthew B. Hall