JARON Ennis and Cody Crowley came face-to-face in Philadelphia earlier, ahead of Ennis’s first defence of the full IBF welterweight crown on July 13. It was a spicy affair that threatened to cross the line of decency on more than one occasion.

Speaking at the Wells Fargo Center press conference, the man known colloquially as “Boots” is all set to beautify a positive promotion that started off in a surprisingly negative way.

“I’m gonna put on a beautiful show,” he promised. “I know July 13 is obviously the focus, but beyond that, what is the plan? It’s unification fights. Bringing big fights to the Wells Fargo, right?”

Title challenger Cody Crowley has been linked to Ennis for a while. The Canadian (22-0, 9KOs) is a solid next step. Not that he sees himself as any stepping stone, aiding Ennis’s inevitable rise to glory. 

Cody’s delivery was respectful and reserved. His manager, Anthony Girges, was ready for action, however, as things quickly descended into a slanging match. Girges stoked the fires with some mild trash talk.

Chasing down Terence Crawford has become a game for Ennis, whose main aim is to get active and stay active. New promoter Eddie Hearn will help him do that. Adding a touch of pizzazz and hyperbole to a promising tale that has fallen off course lately, mainly due to inactivity and promotional/managerial disputes, is Eddie’s remit.

“The most important thing for me was to bring him home to Philadelphia,” said the Matchroom promoter. “And we made it happen because you have a fighter as special as this, and you have a city as great as this.

“People don’t understand the history of boxing in this city. How has he never fought here [in this arena]? Well, now it’s time for that to change.”

While Ennis has dealt with issues outside of the ropes, challenger Crowley, a softly-spoken southpaw who tried to distance himself from the provocative instigations of his manager, had been out of the ring dealing with various serious matters of his own. 

Choosing whether to pursue the WBC, WBO or WBA routes was the least of his worries. Crowley has dealt with a variety of personal circumstances and mental health problems, including the heartbreaking death of his father.

“This is my dream. This is my time,” said an emotional Crowley. “I know this is the big homecoming, but as he said in his Instagram today, I’m going to steal the hearts of Philadelphia.

“It’s a real-life Rocky story. Man, I’ve been through hell and back. I’ve had my entire life taken from me. He has a man in front of him who’s ready to die on July 13th – I’m serious.”

Harsh words, but then again this is a harsh sport. Some of the crowd’s responses to Crowley’s plight were less than complimentary. While father Derrick ‘Bozy’ Ennis, a former pro fighter, was off his seat and ready to rumble, Jaron took it all in his stride. Just as he has his whole career.

“My main focus right now is Cody Crowley, though,” said Jaron Ennis (31-0, 28 KOs). “That’s all my eyes are focused on, him right now. But after this? Definitely undisputed for sure. Collect the rest of the belts and go ahead and move to ‘54 and do the same thing up there.”

Crowley has been running the Rocky steps in anticipation of his big moment, and it would indeed be a real-life Rocky story if he could pull it off against the man Hearn describes as “the future of the sport.” The present-day journey begins on July 13.