Andy Cruz ready to impress after being polished by 'Boots'

Andy Cruz is ready to fight Jovanni Straffon with increased aggression after preparing for his second professional opponent by sparring Jaron “Boots” Ennis.

The Cuban lightweight is prominent on the undercard of Regis Prograis-Devin Haney, and remains the subject of significant intrigue after following becoming Olympic champion by turning professional in July by outpointing Juan Carlos Burgos over 10 rounds.

His trainer Derek “Bozy” Ennis, recruited because of the extent to which his son “Boots” has excelled under his guidance, has, from his gym in Philadelphia, focused on helping Cruz adjust from the finest of amateur fighters into one similarly ready to succeed as a professional, and to that end Cruz and “Boots” Ennis have sparred.

Before the victory over Burgos, Cruz and Ennis – the IBF welterweight champion then a week removed from defeating Roiman Villa – had been restricted to training side by side. Ahead of Cruz-Straffon, however, Ennis has been used to enhance the 28-year-old Cruz’s progress, and the Cuban told ProBox TV: “There was no boxer like him that I’d ever seen before. 

“Seeing him do his thing in the ring as well allows me to take on that experience and to try and incorporate into my style. To see him in action is great, and I’ve tried to take on a few bits of tactics and put it into my opponent.

“We’ve had a few sparring sessions. That tends to happen when other boxers don’t come to the gym – we spar each other and we interchange our abilities and our skills.

“[My professional debut] was a new experience. I enjoyed the fight. It wasn’t an easy fight, because no fight is, but I enjoyed it to the max. I was learning round by round; I was facing an experienced boxer who came to fight his way, but the way that he fought allowed me to showcase my talent, and the idea is to continue to get better in the future, so I can have a lot more opportunities to show what I can do.

“[‘Bozy’] said that I performed well, and that he also wanted to give me credit and that I can do even more, but at the same time he didn’t want to criticise me too much because he knew it was my debut. He said there were things that we could work on in the gym – we’re now doing this – in a way that we can win fights in an easier manner by preparing really well.

“I’ve put the maximum amount into my training and working really hard with my training team and it was about adapting to that system; taking on all these different changes of a new style of fighting, and understanding all of this. He’s also told me I can manage my rounds better; I can sit down on my punches, and I can also cause maximum damage. I’m taking on all the information that Bozy’s giving me.”

The fight with Mexico’s Saffron, 30, comes in the week after Haney vacated the IBF, WBA and WBO lightweight titles.

“There’s lots of opportunities, and with the current developments it means that my opportunity might come quicker than I expected before but that’s why we’re progressing – to take whatever comes and we’re completely ready,” Cruz continued.

“[Saffron’s] quite heavy handed; he has experience, but we’re going out to show what we’ve got, which is talent; great preparation; we’re gonna go out and show who’s best.

“What [‘Bozy’s’] told me is to show security in the ring – that I’m able to defend myself correctly – but he’s also said that I have power and I need to go out and show it, and also to try to showcase all the boxing tools that I have at my disposal, and if I can finish it inside the distance then go out and do it.”