Boots and the Iceman
Philadelphia has long been known as a city that has produced elite fighters. It’s a tradition that is taken seriously throughout the fight community within the city limits. Every generation has seen at least a handful of fighters that make it out of city gyms in order to stake their claims among the best in the world. The grueling “Gym Wars,” for bragging rights in the city, may be a thing of the past and have given way to more of a boxing fraternity among the gyms but, from this tough-as-nails fighting tradition, two prospects of the new crop have emerged.
Jaron “Boots” Ennis and Christian “Iceman” Carto not only come from the “City of Brotherly Love’s” aforementioned fighting traditions but from fighting families that have already etched their last names into the lure of boxing in “Philly.” They’re legacies that both young prospects with which they are not only trying to continue but traditions they plan on taking to new heights.
This weekend, both fighters continue on this journey with fights in separate cities. Tomorrow night, Ennis, 13-0 (11), will head to Washington D.C. to fight at the Howard Theater, as he tries to make yet another impressive statement in a young career that can be summed up in one word: Engaging. Tonight at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, Carto, 10-0 (10), tries to stay perfect as he headlines for the first time in yet another good looking King’s Promotions card.
Obvuiously, Ennis comes from the fighting Ennis clan. His father Derek “Bozy” Ennis is not just a well respected trainer in the city. He too was a fighter and has continued the traditions of the old-school trainers from the city. At just the age of 20, Ennis is the youngest of the Ennis fighting sons. His two older brothers junior middleweight Derek “Pooh” Ennis and super middleweight Farah Ennis are solid professional fighters who reached world championship contender levels. Derek captured the USBA title at 154 pounds, while Farah was the NABF 168 pound champion.
Derek Ennis was on a terrific run several years back, which included a great 2010 victory over Gabriel Rosado in a fight that was a Philadelphia throwback classic, while Farah holds a victory over Anthony Hanshaw and lost a tough fight against Badou Jack. Although the older Ennis brothers have been inactive for about two years now, Jaron has taken over as the talk of the town, keeping the Ennis name in fans’ ears and mouths.
Boots was quietly winning all types of amateur tournaments on the national level, while his older brothers were making their names as professionals. Unfortunately his amateur career didn’t finish the way he would have liked, when he lost in the box-offs to Gary Antuanne Russell in a disputed decision for the right to represent the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games. Since that defeat, Ennis decided to join the professional ranks and, unlike some young talent in the current landscape of the sport, he has engaged in a fast-paced start to his career that is creating the type of buzz in the city that hasn’t been seen for a welterweight prospect in many years. Ken Hissner, a well-respected Philly boxing scribe has gone on record, saying “Boots is the best looking prospect in Philly since Meldrick Taylor.”
Fighting seven times in his first year as a professional, as well as another six, since entering his second year, Ennis is not only avoiding ring rust; he continues to nurture his natural talents, which include speed, the ability to fight as both southpaw and orthodox and, most importantly, a boxing I.Q. that grows rapidly under his father’s tutelage. Ennis was signed by boxing manager extraordinaire Cameron Dunkin and the fruits are beginning to show from the seeds planted.
“I put him in with all different types of fighters. Tall guys, awkward punchers, heavy-handed guys and brawlers,” stated Bozy Ennis back in June. “Everything that we prepare for in the gym, he’s got to see during a fight.” This includes, of course, the types of fighters who aren’t afraid to fight outside the box when they are being dominated. That was the case when a former opponent stepped on Ennis’ foot and took him down while throwing a punch that landed after both fighters hit the canvas, mixed martial arts-style.
While the crowd at the 2300 Arena was not to pleased by the blatant approach of the opponent, Ennis simply rose to his feet smiling and went on to unleash a beating that he clearly enjoyed dishing out. On that night, he was happy that he was able to blast away till the final bell rang.
Couple his amateur experience with his natural abilities, a great fighting family and management that has been working with local promotions in the Northeast (what a novel idea), it’s clear that Ennis is on the right path to continuing the traditions of both family and city.
Tickets for Nation’s Fight Night can be purchased at http://www.nationsfightnight.com/.
Meanwhile, in South Philadelphia, Christian Carto has been causing his own stir within the boxing community. Also, just 20 years of age, Carto comes from a fighting family of his own. It is a deep family background that includes his uncle Joe Carto, who fought as a professional early in the 1930s. Christian’s grandfather Frank Carto was a lightweight in the city, who captured his own glory. He was the Golden Gloves Champion in 1939 and 1940 and, in the October 1941 edition of THE RING Magazine, he was named the “Prospect of the Month.”
Frankie went on to have a successful professional career, although he never competed for a world championship. Thats said, this was when there was only one champion in each weight class and not four (at least). Frankie posted a final record of 40-13 (20) before calling it a day in December of 1946, after fighting some of the toughest lightweights of his time.
Even though Frankie Carto had a successful career, his grandson is a power-punching boxer who may just bring his own glory of being a popular bantamweight to the East Coast. Carto won the 2014 National Golden Gloves tournament as a light flyweight. He decided to turn professional in the summer of 2016 and has also kept a busy schedule. As he is poised for his first fight to start the second half of 2017 – his second professional year – it helps to keep booking fights when none of your opponents have yet to hear the final bell.
Since turning pro, Carto has been fighting under several promotional banners and has yet to settle on one specific promotional company. It’s not as if they are not interested; reports are that a few high-profile companies are indeed interested, when it comes to Carto. In all honesty, what’s not to get excited about? Without question, the natural talent is there, as well as the boxing acumen. You can tell Carto thinks while he is fighting. It’s at a high speed but his movements all have a purpose.
Add to the fact that he is a young Italian bantamweight from South Philly, who punches powerfully and indeed you can see the dollar signs spin in managers’ and promoters’ eyes. So far, Carto is managed by his father and his older brother. Getting dates are also not a problem, due to the fact that he is already becoming a ticket seller on the East Coast, a rarity for bantamweights, especially fighters who aren’t fighting in the Latino-driven market of the West Coast.
At his most recent fight in Atlantic City, in June, there was a sea of Team Carto shirts at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino. Even once he dispatched his foe inside the first round, his supporters were happy to hang around the venue and the casino celebrating the victory.
With his career moving forward, Christian Carto will inevitably have to answer all the questions that all “special” prospects have to answer. Some have mentioned that in order for him to prepare for those types of tests on fight night, he should spend more time out west training in an environment that features world-class talent at the lighter weight classes in high-profile gyms. He did, in fact, spend time at the Wild Card Boxing Club training with Billy Briscoe and he has made one thing clear: He is willing to do whatever it takes to take the Carto name to the next level.
Tickets for Friday Night Boxing by King’s Promotions can be purchased at http://www.sugarhouseentertainment.com/the-event-center/.