BN: How is it you came to be appointed Andy Cruz’s trainer?
I got a phone call months and months back. Jamil Parker, he’s a sports writer, called me and said, “Did anybody call you?” I said, “Nah, nah”. He said, “These people want you to train Andy Cruz, alright?” I said, “Okay, when they call me, I’ll talk to them and see where they’re coming from”. But I forgot that before that, somebody did call me – it was Andy Cruz’s manager, and I forgot all about it. I said, “You know what – I think they called me and said they wanted to come down here and check me out”. So, when he asked me about training Andy, I said, “Y’all come down here and let me take a look at him”. Even though I saw him when he fought Keyshawn [Davis, at Tokyo 2020]. Then I said, “Yeah, I’ll take a look at him”. That was then.
Then later on down the line they called me again – they said they were gonna come down and visit me, and I waited for a while. Then all of a sudden he came down, I was working with him, and they liked what I was doing with him. They said, “Yeah, he can’t punch, and he can’t that”. Man, I got him sitting down. I said, “He can punch”, y’know what I mean? It’s just with his left hand, he would smack a little bit, so I got him turning his shots a little better. If you’d seen the other day when he was boxing, you would’ve seen what I was talking about. He’s sitting down – he can be champion, man.
Way I heard it, one of his managers was saying they saw the stuff that I do – I guess it must’ve been on Instagram or whatever – and they liked the way my son, Boots [Jaron Ennis], fights. They said I was the guy for them – to train Andy. People was asking why he didn’t go to [the Las Vegas-based Ismael] Salas, or why he didn’t go to [the Miami-based Jorge] Rubio. He said, “Nah, we didn’t want to go over there; we wanted to come here”, with me. So, I said, “Oh, that’s fine”. Man, he fit right in, man. He had fun in here; we had fun in here, man. He’ll be dancing; singing; playing around and all that. Good guy, man. Good guy.
They just said they didn’t want to be in that type of environment [in Vegas or Miami] – I don’t know – because all them Cuban fighters go to them [Salas and Rubio]. I guess they didn’t want that.
BN: How do you overcome the language barrier?
Well, he understands some of the stuff that I be doing now. I mean, before, he didn’t understand it. His manager [Jofri Sanchez] is gonna come in with him anyway; he speaks for me.
Sometimes [Sanchez] doesn’t have to be there. [Cruz will] go in there, and I’ll tell him to do something with my hands – to the body, or to the head, or something like that – and he does it. He knows what I’m saying to him sometimes too. When I say, “Jab, more jabs”, he understands that now. When he first started here, he would finish work on the bag, and he would sit down. I said, “Yo, we don’t sit down. You gotta complete the whole regiment. After you hit the bag, you jump rope and exercise, or before that you might shadow box; you might get in the ring and box”. I said, “No sitting down. Bullshit! Bullshit!”. That’s what I said. So, he’d come in, “Bullshit! Bullshit!” So, now I told him, no bullshit, because he’s been doing what he’s supposed to be doing now. We have fun, man. I think he can be something.
BN: How aware are you of the scrutiny he’ll be under this weekend?
Yeah – and they got him fighting a 10-rounder. First fight coming out – 10 rounder. With me? I wouldn’t do it, y’know what I mean? I wouldn’t do it. But that’s what they [Cuban fighters] do when they come here – they’ve so many amateur fights [Cruz went 140-9 as an amateur]. And that was their job over in Cuba – that’s what they do. All they do is box. So, I guess they know more than me, but with my son, I would never do that. Gradually – four rounds, maybe three or four, six rounders, and then eight rounders.
It don’t really concern me; it’s just that I wouldn’t do it. That’s the way we work here. It’s an unnecessary risk. Then, [in Juan Carlos Burgos] – he just fought Keyshawn [Davis, losing via points over eight rounds in December]. So, I think what they’re trying to do – they’re trying to make a statement. That’s what I think they’re trying to do, but I can’t fault them for that. But that’s on them. I’m gonna do my job, and they gotta do their job. You’re picking this fighter, so that’s on you.
I would tell them [if I thought they were making a mistake], but it’s gonna be up to them, because they’re the managers. But I would tell them, “No, no, I wouldn’t do that right now”. Oh yeah, I would try to stop that.
BN: Can Cruz join the leaders at the top of the lightweight division?
He will join them. 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.
BN: Do you agree that your son Jaron “Boots” Ennis and Vergil Ortiz are going to succeed Terence Crawford and Errol Spence at the top of the welterweight division?
I think so – I think that’s what’s going to happen. Down the line, it’s gonna be Boots and Ortiz. That’s a good fight, because remember – they’re both coming. It’s who gets to who, when it comes to them two. That’s what it’s gonna look like, between Boots and Ortiz. And they’re gonna build that up – just like [Oscar] De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. So, they’ll probably clean the division out, and then it’s gonna be them two.
BN: Do you see Boots ever fighting Crawford or Spence?
Oh, I would love that. I don’t know about 147 – I know eventually we’re gonna move up to 154 anyways, so we might meet them. We might fight them at 154, if they’re still there, once we clean this 147 division out.
BN: Shawn Porter recently said Boots will prove the best welterweight since Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. Can he?
Oh, without a doubt, man. Boots can fight inside and outside – you haven’t seen the best of Boots yet. But see, no one’s made Boots go to another level yet. [Sergey] Lipinets, that was a good fighter, right? Look what Boots did with Lipinets [in 2021]. He knocked them out [in five rounds]. He’d never been knocked out before. Boots is already on their [Crawford’s and Spence’s] level.