Ennis: Cruz is 'on the threshold' of world-title glory

Derek “Bozy” Ennis has backed Andy Cruz to be ready to fight for a world title in the coming year.

Cruz on Saturday fights for the second time as a professional, when on the undercard of Regis Prograis-Devin Haney at the Chase Center in San Francisco he fights Mexico’s Jovanni Straffon.

In July he outpointed Juan Carlos Burgos, also from Mexico, over 10 rounds, and at the age of 28 and as an Olympic champion he is expected to continue to be fast-tracked. 

When Matchroom announced that they had signed him in May, Eddie Hearn claimed that he could already beat any of the world’s leading lightweights. At Thursday’s press conference – little over 48 hours before the Cuban’s next fight – he was then being more realistic when he said that he hoped Cruz would fight for a title next year.

Haney in May defended the undisputed lightweight title against Vasyl Lomachenko, and in then also signing for Matchroom – Hearn did not seek to match him with Cruz – and agreeing to challenge Prograis at 140lbs he sacrificed the WBC lightweight title recently won by Shakur Stevenson in his fight with Edwin de los Santos.

A week ahead of Haney’s first fight at super lightweight he then vacated his remaining lightweight titles, creating numerous opportunities for his former rivals – and in that both competitive and uncertain landscape, Hearn and Ennis hope that his chance will soon arrive.

“Oh yes,” the trainer told ProBox TV when asked if 2024 was realistic. “Yes. Yeah. A few fights next year and I think so. It all depends on how may fights he got under his belt. With Andy, he probably don’t need that many fights, ‘cause of the way he progressing now. You never can tell, but he on the right track, man. I tell everybody that. He’s doing well, and he fits in with the team I have.

“I think they gonna move him pretty fast, just like they did with [Vasyl] Lomachenko. That’s what they doing with him right now.

“He’s on the threshold right now – he’s right there – ‘cause he had so many amateur fights. You might as well be a pro already. Now you gotta make the transition. I always tell him, ‘Start with the jab; start back over again; set everything up behind the jab’. 

“I would want him to keep on progressing. I wouldn’t just want to rush him right into it. ‘Cause there’s still a lot he got to learn.

“I really can’t put no time on that but I think it’s gon’ be sooner than what people think. He pick up so quick. He one of them guys that adapt. I had him boxing all different types of style, and he start breaking them down. Some of the top, top amateurs; some of the pros in Philly.”

Revisiting his performance against Burgos, the Philadelphia-based Ennis said: “He did pretty good, man. Whatever I give him, he picks it up. He loves doing what he’s doing. He like my son ‘Boots’ [Jaron Ennis]. They love doing what they do so they have fun doing it. I always tell ‘em, ‘Have fun doing what you do – if you don’t have fun don’t do it no more’. 

“The main thing when I was working with him is the defence. Even though his defence is good ‘cause he moved a lot, but I got him a defence where his right hand ain’t gotta move that much – where he can catch right here – and sitting down with his punching power, ‘cause they say he can’t punch. He can punch, but he gotta start sitting down, so that’s what I been working on.

“He did pretty good. That weren’t enough time but he picked it up, ‘cause I had him doing the same stuff over and over. He fought a good fighter that first fight, so it goes to show you right there where he’s at. That was good, fighting a 10-rounder like that, and he weren’t even breathing hard.

“[Against Straffon] you gon’ see him using the jab more, and sitting down a little more. Each time you see him fight you wanna see him progress more and more. Sitting down and punching – putting tension on your shots. That’s where the power come from. You shoot from your hips and shoulders and using your legs, and use his jab more, and you gonna see him doing a lot of catching [punches].”

Since the victory over Burgos, Cruz has started to spar “Bozy’s” son, the talented IBF welterweight champion Jaron “Boots” Ennis. 

“Andy is so slick, people don’t like sparring Andy,” Ennis Sr continued. “A lot of people say, ‘Man, I can’t hit him’; then he catch their shots instead of moving so much. He gon’ graduate quick.

“You see all different kinds of stuff. The movement; Andy moves good; Boots moves good. Boots will touch him up and then he’ll come back, slip, bang. Same with Andy. He’ll slip a lot of shots too. It’s like art, when you see them two in there.

“Andy is getting better, ‘cause he watches Boots all the time.

“I got [Shakur] Stevenson and ‘Tank’ [Gervonta Davis] – they the number ones [at lightweight]. Lomachenko [too]. Them the ones right there. But then you got some other guys coming up too, in the same division. Frank Martin; [Raymond] Muratalla. That’s good for Andy too.”