Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis is locked in for his next fight.
Unfortunately for the unbeaten IBF welterweight titlist, it will take place in a courtroom rather than the ring.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Philadelphia’s Ennis has filed a three-count lawsuit against NOW Boxing, claiming breach of contract. The case was filed on February 7 with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he seeks declaratory relief to void his current agreement with his estranged promoter and a judgment in excess of $1,000,000.
The heart of the complaint is focused on Ennis’ gross inactivity in relation to the number of bouts promised from a signed agreement he entered in 2019 with NOW Boxing. The four year agreement called for Ennis to fight four times each in years one and two of the agreement, and three times each in the third and fourth years.
Ennis has fought just ten times in more than five years since he signed with NOW Boxing, which was previously run by Cameron Dunkin prior to his passing earlier this year. The company is now run by Kellie Dunkin, Cameron’s widow whom Ennis and his legal team cite as not having any experience in that realm.
Furthermore, the complaint alleges that Ennis was not offered any fights by the company since his tenth-round stoppage of Roiman Villa last July 9 in Atlantic City.
“During the Term of the Agreement Plaintiff has been ready, willing, and able to participate in the number
of Bouts specified in the Agreement and has made Defendant aware of his willingness,” attorney Arnold Joseph argued on behalf of Ennis in the official complaint, a copy which was obtained by Boxing Scene. “[Y]et, Defendant has only given Plaintiff the opportunity to participate in the following number of bouts:
Year 1 – 3 bouts
Year 2 – 2 bouts
Year 3 – 2 bouts
Year 4 – 1 bout
“To date, Defendant has not advised whether Ms. Dunkin or Defendant is a licensed Promoter. Plaintiff avers that Mrs. Dunkin has absolutely no experience promoting professional boxing events. Plaintiff’s last bout took place on July 8, 2023. Defendant has failed to offer any bout opportunities since that date.”
According to the complaint, Ennis was informed via official letter on January 15 that Kellie Dunkin assumed control of NOW Boxing. The notice was provided 13 days after Cameron Dunkin’s passing.
Ennis’ team acknowledged in the complaint that the 2019 Agreement carried a clause that provided NOW Boxing the unilateral right to extend his contract in the event he won a major title. Ennis was elevated to full IBF welterweight titlist from his prior interim status after Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford failed to honor the terms of an ordered IBF title consolidation bout last year.
The development has not at all helped Ennis’ ability to land a fight of any kind, significant or otherwise.
Ennis won two separate elimination bouts to position himself as the mandatory challenger to the IBF title previously held by Errol Spence. He was provided the chance to fight for the interim title, which his team viewed as an insurance policy in the event he wouldn’t get a shot at the full champion (Errol Spence at the time prior to his July 29 knockout defeat to Crawford). Ennis won the belt in a lopsided twelve-round decision over then-unbeaten Karen Chukhadzhian last January 6 in Washington D.C. His aforementioned win over Villa was the lone defense of that title.
The legal matter comes four years after Ennis was in a dispute with Chris Middendorf and Victory Boxing, who previously partnered with Dunkin but whose relationship with Ennis became fractured following their split.
Ennis claimed at the time that his relationship with Middendorf was through Dunkin, and that he was prepared to follow the latter out the door following the split between former business partners. Middendorf argued—in private and through the legal system—that a binding contract remained in place, with the dispute threatening to put Ennis’ promising career on hold.
The case was settled in June 2021.
Ennis’ team seeks a jury trial for its complaint versus NOW Boxing, while he remains without a confirmed fight date. The complaint alleges that his livelihood is impacted by the promoter’s actions—or lack thereof—to progress his career.
“By reason of the foregoing, a justiciable controversy exists between adverse parties, which involves a
substantial legal right of Plaintiff-to wit the right to engage in his chosen livelihood and earn a living; and
Plaintiff therefore seeks a Declaratory Judgment that the Agreement is void ab initio,” noted Joseph on behalf of his client. “Plaintiff seeks an order and judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant declaring
that the Agreement is void.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox