There isn't much room at the top of boxing's welterweight division. WBO champion Terence Crawford is widely recognized as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Unified champion Errol Spence Jr. isn't far behind him. They are elite fighters, likely Hall of Famers, and they suck up much of the oxygen when it comes to discussion of what has long been one of the sport's glamor divisions.
There is another welterweight, though, who is forcing them to slide over to create a "Big Three" in the division.
In a different place and time, where the best regularly fought the best, Jaron Ennis would already be a household name and regarded in the same manner as Crawford and Spence are now.
Ennis, though, hasn't gotten the fights he wants yet because of the way this sport operates. Despite that, though, he's a hard guy to miss. He's 29-0 with 27 knockouts and on Saturday at the Capital One Center in Washington, D.C., he'll fight Karen Chukhadzhian for the interim IBF welterweight title in the co-main event of a Showtime pay-per-view card headlined by Gervonta Davis.
Don't bother asking Ennis who he wants to fight, because it's simple.
"I want to be a legend in this sport and remembered for facing all the top guys," he told Yahoo Sports. "You want to know who is the best? There's one way: Get in the ring and fight. That's the way to find out. And that's what I want to do. I want to fight everyone. Anyone you ask me, if he's an elite guy, I want [to fight] him."
Spence and Crawford have held lengthy talks about fighting each other, which so far have gone nowhere. And if Ennis keeps his unbeaten streak alive on Saturday, he'll hold the interim version of one of Spence's belts and be right there ready to face him.
Of course, that's what he wants. But in good news, he's not the only one. Vergil Ortiz is 19-0 with 19 KOs and also is looking to get himself into that space with Crawford and Spence. The WBA has ordered Ortiz to fight Eimantas Stanionis for a version of its welterweight title. That fight is expected to happen in the spring.
Ennis and Ortiz have similar records and talent levels, as well as ambitions. Ortiz manager Rick Mirigian told Yahoo Sports that Ortiz didn't fight at the end of 2022 because he doesn't want tune-ups and wants only significant fights.
It makes things crowded at the top, but as they say, the more the merrier.
From Ennis' standpoint, it makes little difference who else is angling for a shot at the title.
"Ortiz is a good fighter," Ennis said. "All them guys are good fighters. That's what makes this exciting. We need to all get in there and handle business and see how this comes out."
The first order of business is to handle Chukhadzhian, who is 21-1 with 11 KOs but will be fighting outside of Europe for the first time when he meets Ennis. Chukhadzhian is confident despite the long odds against him.
At BetMGM, Ennis is not only -5000 to win, but he's -900 to win by knockout. Despite Ennis' prodigious power, Chukhadzhian insists he's willing to stand in the pocket and trade blows if that's what it takes to win.
"I’m coming here to win," Chukhadzhian said at media day Wednesday. "If he wants to avoid going toe-to-toe, then I’ll be ready to box. If it’s a battle on the inside he wants, I know that I can win that way. I know that Ennis is a good fighter, but my focus is on my abilities and what I can do in the ring. I’m very confident. I have everything I need to win this fight."
He could fight an outstanding fight and still get knocked out because of the talent Ennis has. Ennis is a puncher, but he's got the kind of boxing ability that is rare and will allow him to fight any way he needs to win.
Ennis sees the Chukhadzhian bout as another step on the road to greatness, and he hopes to be able to steal the show from Davis, who meets Hector Garcia in the main event.
"Not to take anything away from Tank, who is a great fighter, but when this is over, my goal is for everyone to be talking about my fight," Ennis said. "I'm not taking away from what they're doing in the main event, but I promise you, our fight is going to be explosive. Very explosive."