Derek “Bozy” Ennis has predicted the time will come when Andy Cruz is competing with Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta Davis and potentially more at the top of the lightweight division.
Cruz makes his professional debut on Saturday at the Masonic Temple in Detroit against Juan Carlos Burgos of Mexico, and does so with expectations already growing that he can build on the amateur success that peaked at Tokyo 2020 when he won Olympic gold.
Devin Haney is the undisputed lightweight champion but will be fighting at 140lbs or higher long before the 27-year-old Cruz can hope to be in a position to challenge for a title. Davis and Stevenson, however, are not only as widely admired but expected to remain at 135lbs – and Cruz’s former amateur rival Keyshawn Davis is another promising lightweight striving to compete at the very top.
Ennis, the Philadelphia-based trainer recruited to oversee the transition of Cuba’s Cruz into a professional fighter, has spoken of his preference for him to be fighting over four rounds on his debut, instead of the ambitious, scheduled 10.
He regardless shares the optimism of promoters Matchroom and others that his new fighter has what it takes to succeed as a professional, and he said: “He will join them [the division’s leading fighters]. It’s not, ‘Can he?'. He will join them; he’s gonna be right there.
“He will be champion; all he gotta do is pay attention; follow the script that I’m laying down for him. Then he’s gonna be there. Like my man was saying – he watching from the amateurs, the transition is to the pros now. So, now I’m teaching him the pro style.”
Burgos was outpointed by Davis in December, on the occasion of Davis’ seventh fight, demonstrating Matchroom’s desire for Cruz to make what could prove a significant statement. A week before Cruz fights for the first time as a professional, Jaron “Boots” Ennis recorded his finest victory by stopping Roiman Villa in 10 rounds, in turn demonstrating why it was his father and trainer was chosen to also guide Cruz.
“You have to give it to [Devin] Haney, because he’s undisputed [champion],” Ennis Sr continued. “I mean, I’ll give it to him, but I’m not saying he’s the best. But when it comes down to it, I see Shakur [Stevenson], and [Gervonta] ‘Tank’ [Davis] right there.
“That’s gonna be the fight right there – them two guys right there. That’s the fight right there. Shakur – he’s smart, he knows his range, and everything. Then you got Tank – he’s a little crafty. He’ll set you up; you can think you got him with a shot, even though he gets hit, but when he gets hit, he’s setting you up when he gets hit. He’s setting up traps, so, he’s dangerous, man.
“Shakur’s dangerous too, because he can beat you all day – without you touching him. So, those two are the ones you gotta watch out for.”