BN: You’re fighting on the same night as Vergil Ortiz, who so many expect to prove your biggest rival. How important is this fight for you?

This next fight means a lot. I can’t wait to make a big statement. We’ll see on fight night, but I know my opponent. All he does is come forward; not moving his head; swinging big shots.

A fighter isn’t always gonna fight you the same way. So, you gotta be prepared all around, just like my last fight [three scores of 120-108 earned over Karen Chukhadzhian, in January]. The guy that I fought, y’know – he usually come forward for a little bit. But when he fought me, he was boxing and moving. You just gotta prepare yourself all around. [But] like I said before, I know this guy only knows one way – it’s forward, and that’s telling me that’s gonna fall right into my hands. That’s perfect for me.

BN: Who do you see winning this month’s fight between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence?

That’s a great fight. You can’t really pick a winner until fight night. It’s gonna come down to who’s in the best shape, and who’s the meanest. Who got more of the dog, and who prepared the best.

That fight is really 50-50. It’s gonna come down to who’s in the best shape – whoever’s the meanest, and who can take the best shot, and whoever’s the smartest. I feel like a lot of people are doubting Spence, but you can’t count nobody out. Spence’s got three belts, and he been through a lot. So, I don’t know, maybe he can get through that.

I’m just glad they’re fighting. Hopefully, they fight each other, and they don’t fight each other again, so that I can fight the winner. If they fight each other again, so be it. Hopefully I see those guys soon.

BN: Do you agree with those who say that you and Ortiz will succeed Spence and Crawford at the top of the welterweight division?

Most definitely. I feel like these guys are on their way out – Spence and Crawford, y’know? I feel like after they fight, they’re gonna fight each other again, but it’s probably gonna be at a different weight. Or they can come to me – the younger era. I’m ready to make my statement, and take over this welterweight division. Whatever comes, y’know?

Me; Vergil Ortiz; [Eimantas] Stanionis. I know I’m probably missing a few you guys out there, but it’s the next reign of the welterweight division. Hopefully, we all can make these fights happen.

BN: How good is Ortiz?

He’s a great fighter. He comes forward – I love those styles. It’s perfect for me. Hopefully he does his thing July 8; same night as me. He’s fighting Stanionis – I’d love the winner of that. I’d love the winner from Spence-Crawford. I know I’m missing a few other guys; Keith Thurman; fight him too. [Yordenis] Ugas – still a great name, even though he’s older. He got good talent too.

BN: Lennox Lewis recently visited you in Philadelphia…

Lennox Lewis came here – he watched me spar a while back. It was cool to have him here, and see a former world champion – a legend. It was cool to have him around. It was definitely a dope experience.

I think he hit my dad [Bozy] up or something. A lot of former champions and guys have been coming down here. Nonito Donaire came down here, too. It’s a lot of people that come down here and want to work with us.

He said he just liked my style, and he liked what I’m doing and things like that. I appreciate it – it’s wise words from a legend. I mean, if he were to give me some advice, of course I would listen, y’know? You can learn from anybody, even a little kid, y’know?

He’s a heavyweight, so I wasn’t watching too many heavyweights [when I was younger], but I’ve definitely seen a few of his highlights and a few of his fights and he had that knockout power. It’s definitely a blessing to have him come the gym while I was here. It was definitely cool – my dad worked with him a little bit. Gave him some stick work, and pad work. He was giving him a few pointers.

I definitely watched [Donaire] coming up, too. I seen when he fought a few people, like [Guillermo] Rigondeaux – he’s got a big left hook. It was cool to have him around here – another former champion. He’s still active, too, so it was cool to just be around him.

We didn’t really chat like that – it was more like regular conversation. Just talking about boxing in general, and he was telling me the things that my dad was teaching him, and stuff like that, but nothing too crazy. We were just talking about boxing – all the fights that were coming up, what I was doing, and things like that. Same with Lennox.

BN: How do you see the coming super bantamweight fight between Naoya Inoue and your fellow Philadelphian Stephen Fulton?

That’s a great fight – Fulton, anyways, is a great fighter. I feel like a lot of people are doubting Fulton, and I don’t know why. That’s his weight class; he been at that weight class a long time. He’s gonna show them why he’s the best at that weight class. I think it’s gonna be easier than what people think.

One thing about “Scooter” Fulton – he’ll find a way to win, and he’s not gonna let you dictate nothing. He’s gonna find a way to win; he’s gonna dig deep; if he’s gotta fight you dirty, he’s gonna fight you dirty. If he’s gotta box you; he’s gonna box you. He always find a way to win. So, that’s why I think he’s gonna have that advantage – and I think that Scooter is a little stronger than Inoue.

Inoue’s a good fighter. He’s great at the smaller weight classes –122[lbs] is a little different. A lot of these guys be coming from a different weight, and he’s slick a little bit, but I think I like Scooter on this one. I know Scooter’s gonna do his thing.

Scooter definitely got a different type of drive. It’s gonna be one of those fights where it’s like, “I told you”. Just in general. I see it. Just everything – demeanour – everything. Scooter’s just gonna be smart, and make it easier for himself, and not play anybody’s game.

I’ve sparred Scooter – just playing around; keeping each other sharp – but it was a while ago. It’s always fun to spar smaller guys. They’re a little bit faster than other guys I’ve been sparring, so it just keeps you sharp; makes me faster.

BN: How have you found training alongside Andy Cruz?

Andy Cruz is definitely nice. He got his own style; his own rhythm. Slick, and he fits right in with us. He’s funny – he don’t speak too much English – but he’s funny. He’s goofy. He plays with us – same way we play with him. It’s all fun, all love, in here. He’s silly, everybody in our gym – we like to have fun, and he just fits right in.

He’s gonna be a great fighter. His first fight [next week] is a ten-round fight. He’s gonna be ready, and I think he’s gonna shock a lot of people. He’s doing his thing; he’s getting better and better each and every day.

He definitely could be the best in that weight [135lbs]. It’s gonna take time though – you can’t rush greatness. It’s a slow process.

I haven’t sparred him yet – he’s a little smaller than me. But what I’ve been seeing, he’s been doing real good. He’s picking up a lot of things, and he’s sitting on his punches now.

BN: How much of a frustration has your decreasing activity been?

I definitely want to stay active – last year there was just a lot of things going on. Crawford and Spence was holding everything up. That’s why I was not active – because we didn’t know what was going on. We were trying to fight Stanionis, and it was just a lot of things going on, and we just had to wait and be patient. Then I wound up getting a fight in January. Things just fall right into place. I can’t be dwelling on these guys. I’m just gonna keep progressing; keep going forward.

It was a little frustrating because I wanted to at least get two fights in last year, but it is what it is. Hopefully, I get three fights this year. Hopefully I get one more – maybe in like November. That way I get three quick fights, and I stay active. That’s how you get better and sharper – staying active.

It doesn’t really feel too different for me – it’s the game. I’m always in the gym – even if I get a call for a fight in four weeks I’m still gonna be ready, because I stay in the gym. That’s how you get better too – just staying in the gym. Working on things you need to get better at. I’m always in the gym, so it really didn’t bother me too much.

BN: How much do you agree that you and Fulton are reestablishing the reputation of boxing in Philadelphia?

I definitely think we’re putting Philly back on the map. It’s definitely a lot of young, up-and-coming talent that’s in Philly. We still got Julian Williams. Philly still on the map, Danny [Garcia is] about to fight [Erislandy] Lara. Y’know, Philly – we’re still hot. We’re coming to take over. Like I always say – Philly support Philly.

My favorite Philadelphia fighter is my brothers, Derek “Pooh” Ennis, and Farah Ennis. Joe Frazier, too. I know I’m missing a few guys, but yeah. [Frazier] had a different style. He was aggressive – the little show move he used to do. I liked that; I stole a little bit of that. I always liked watching the legends.

Joe Frazier all the way, but you can’t go wrong with Muhammad Ali, y’know? He’s one of the best.

I still feel like we’re the fighting city. I feel like we’re the best city in the world. It’s no telling our talent. The Wells Fargo Center – that’s the best place for the fights. Hopefully, I’ll be the first one to do that. That’s the goal.

BN: As a divisional rival, how do you feel about the PED controversy surrounding Conor Benn?

I don’t really care about it. I get tested. Testers just came here today, but we’re clean fighters over here. That’s the goal – keep everything clean. We gotta protect ourselves.

I can’t control [what’s happening in Benn’s career]. There’s nothing that I can do.

Jaron Ennis