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Skye Nicolson And Jalil Hackett Join July 13 Ennis-Crowley Card

Skye Nicolson And Jalil Hackett Join July 13 Ennis-Crowley Card featured image
Matchroom's official poster for their July 13th Philadelphia-based card set to be headlined by IBF welterweight champion Jaron Ennis and Canadian challenger Cody Crowley. (Photo by Matchroom/DAZN)

Recently-crowned WBC women’s featherweight champion Skye Nicolson will be making an appearance on the undercard of the Matchroom card set to be headlined by Jaron Ennis and Cody Crowley on July 13th at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Nicolson will be defending her WBC title against top-rated Dominican challenger Dyana Vargas. Additionally, Jalil Hackett. who recently signed with Matchroom, will be getting his wish to stay active as he prepares to face Peter Dobson at welterweight.

Jaron Ennis (31-0, 28 KO’s) will be defending his International Boxing Federation (IBF) welterweight title roughly half a year after being promoted to full IBF champion. Canadian contender Cody Crowley (22-0, 9 KO’s) will be Ennis’ opponent after being handpicked by the IBF to be the mandatory challenger.

Current betting odds seem to indicate Ennis is the heavy favorite by a milestone and the American champion will be expected to win handily; spurring questions surrounding the IBF’s decision to appoint Crowley as the mandatory challenger and revealing that the sanctioning body’s entire process of determining rankings may need to be altered henceforth to produce more capable/fitting title challengers.

Skye Nicolson And Jalil Hackett Join July 13 Ennis-Crowley Card image 2
Latest betting odds for the July 13th fight between Jaron Ennis and Cody Crowley. (Courtesy of

Crowley’s circumstances as the mandatory challenger are further steeped in mystery after he allegedly pulling out of a 147 lbs final eliminator1 last year against Ekow Essuman (19-1, 7 KO’s) after the fighter’s promotion, Queensberry Promotions, had secured the rights to stage the fight in the United Kingdom. While Crowley had never been revealed to have actually withdrawn from fighting Essuman, this seems to be the case with the Canadian having come out not long after the purse bid proceedings to proclaim his intentions to fight for the WBC world or interim title instead.

At the time, Crowley had been thought to be the WBC mandatory challenger at welterweight after defeating American contender Abel Ramos (28-6-2, 22 KO’s) in March 2023, but the holder of the title, Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KO’s), was expected to face Errol Spence Jr (28-1, 22 KO’s) in a rematch following their July 29th fight in 2023 that saw Crawford become the undisputed welterweight champion, making a match with Crawford unlikely. Since Yordenis Ugas (27-6, 12 KO’s) and Mario Barrios (29-2, 18 KO’s) were set to fight for the WBC interim title, Crowley seems to have avoided Essuman after likely surmising he would sooner gain an opportunity to become a world champion if he faced the winner of Ugas-Barrios. However, a match with the eventual winner of the bout, Barrios, would not be arranged thereafter.

Crowley’s decision to not face Essuman when ordered to do so should have required him to be removed from the IBF’s rankings according to one of their own rules, rule 9(c), however, the IBF seems to have pinpointed Crowley as the ideal future opponent for Jaron Ennis on whom they bestowed the IBF title after stripping Terence Crawford for being obligated to rematch Errol Spence.

Skye Nicolson And Jalil Hackett Join July 13 Ennis-Crowley Card image 1
IBF rule 9(c) detailing the repercussions for a fighter that withdraws from a mandated fight.

In essence, Cody Crowley should not be in the position as a IBF mandatory challenger in the first place―even well after the six-month probationary period for withdrawing from a mandated bout―as he had not fought at all during that time to merit such a position. Throughout this period where a probationary period and removal from their rankings was never enforced, the IBF kept Crowley on their rankings as the highest-ranked contender [placing him at #3 while leaving the #1 and #2 spots vacant], and even eventually made him a IBF mandatory challenger.

For this reason, Crowley is suspected to be have been put in this position not to foster any competitiveness within the sport or welterweight division, but to ensure the champion they promoted, Jaron Ennis, will be met with little resistance to validate the sanctioning body’s decision to make him their champion.

Putting the sanctioning bodies’ shenanigans aside, Australian star Skye Nicolson (10-0, 1 KO’s) will be attempting to prove herself a legitimate world champion by putting her title on the line against Dyana Vargas (18-1, 12 KO’s) from the Dominican Republic. Like Sarah Mahfoud (14-2, 11 KO’s) before her―who Skye Nicolson defeated during her last match to become the WBC featherweight champion, Dyana Vargas is undoubtedly one of the best challengers available, having been considered a top 10 fighter in the 126 lbs division before Nicolson had even made her professional debut in March of 2022.

Skye Nicolson And Jalil Hackett Join July 13 Ennis-Crowley Card image 3
WBA’s female featherweight rankings as of February 2022.

Despite Vargas’ solid credentials as a world title challenger, Skye Nicolson will be expected to come out on top after her last performance against Mahfoud which saw her dispose of a former world champion and a capable contender in her own right.

Former Mayweather Promotions (MP) fighter Jalil Hackett (8-0, 7 KO’s) will be making his Matchroom debut on the July 13th card and get to prove he is the talent he is suspected to be. He will have his biggest challenge against Peter Dobson (16-1, 9 KO’s), the former opponent of British 147 lbs/154 lbs contender Conor Benn (23-0, 14 KO’s) who gave the Essex-born fighter plenty of issues during their last fight.

Unlike Dobson’s last match with Benn that occurred at super welterweight, the American will be fighting his countryman in Hackett at welterweight, giving the new Matchroom-signee a handy advantage as Dobson will focus a significant portion of his training on cutting weight.

However, Dobson remains a threat not to be taken likely as he proved against Benn, and it will require Hackett to prove his talent warrants the expectations that surround him as a future world-class talent.

  1. bouts that determine the mandatory challenger of a sanctioning body ↩︎