The legendary trainer breaks down the Sweet Science as he prepares former world champion Sergey Lipinets to battle undefeated rising star Jaron Ennis in a 147-pound showdown Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
This Saturday, April 10, former IBF world super lightweight champion Sergey “Samurai” Lipinets (16-1-1, 12 KOs) faces another tough test when he takes on rising welterweight contender Jaron “Boots” Ennis (26-0, 24 KOs) in a 12-round contest live on SHOWTIME (9 pm. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Veteran trainer Joe Goossen will be in Lipinets’ corner as he has been for his past three fights. Goossen, who has coached the likes of Diego Corrales, Joel Casamayor, and Michael Nunn, broke down the fundamentals of boxing and how Sergey Lipinets utilizes them in the ring.
It All Starts With the Jab
“Many guys have won fights by using a really good jab,” said Goossen. “It’s an invaluable tool to have. It’s a punch that’s not only annoying and can be destructive, it’s also a great measuring stick.
“It’s annoying to get hit with a jab because that should be one of the easier punches to slip or parry. Guys that really know how to stick it in, it’s annoying because you can’t get away from it. And it’s destructive because it lands with the knuckles. It’s a twisting of the fist to where the knuckles are landing square.
“There are different types of jabs. You can work the body, you can work the head...But I’ve also had guys that don’t really stick the jab or use it as an offensive, punishing weapon, but more as a distance finder. They’re both effective, depending on the fighter and what they bring afterwards.”
In July 2019, Lipinets stopped late replacement Jayar Inson in two rounds. Lipinets baited Inson with a left hook feint, then dropped him seconds later with that very shot.
Goossen revealed when the plan came together for that move. “Five minutes before we went out! We worked on it in the dressing room. [Inson] was a late replacement. We were supposed to fight John Molina. We had trained for two months against right handers. Then they threw in a tall left hander. So we basically had to do a crash course in the locker room. That was one of the things we worked on just in that short period of time, and it somehow manifested itself in the ring and he clipped him with that great left hook.”
Footwork & Positioning
“We do drills on the speed bag,” Goossen explained. “We don’t do what you normally see as a speed bag drill. I like to emulate what happens in the ring. I’ll have Sergey do foot drills, weaving drills on the speed bag, where he’s actually throwing combinations on it, all while moving his head and slipping while he finishes his combos. Sometimes he’ll do it with some distance, sometimes he’ll do it right underneath.
“Then we tie ropes in the ring from one post to another on the other side. They’re pulled taut. He moves from post to post, straight across, weaving and slipping all the way as he goes under the ropes. When he hits the center, he starts cutting right, cutting left. And then he goes backwards on the rope, slipping and punching all the while moving his feet in conjunction and coordinated with his hands.”
“ The coach has to impart his confidence in the abilities and qualities of the fighter. ” Trainer - Joe Goossen
Protect Yourself At All Times
“Sergey is more slippery than you might think,” said Goossen. “We sparred six rounds today as we were winding down. We were in there with a really good sparring partner.
“I asked Sergey, ‘How many times did you get hit on the chin today?’ He goes, ‘Once.’ I said, ‘How many times do you think you landed solid punches?’ He said, ‘Maybe 15.’ I said, ‘Exactly.’
“He somehow maneuvers, wrangles his way out of things—like contorting his body, making awkwardly beautiful moves to avoid punishment. If you’re not really paying attention or don’t know what you’re looking at you might think that some things are landing but they aren’t.
“Back in the day, that little bag Mike Tyson would slip? It’s called a weave bag. It’s a great drill and we do that basically for 10 rounds every day just as a warm-up.”
“The double-double end bag is on a bungee cord but it’s very stiff, where you work in real close,” said Goossen. “You’re on the inside of the inside. It’s as if you’ve got two 2x4s pinching your arms in and everything is shooting up into that small, narrow space going up the middle.
“On the big heavy bag, we’ll work on all three distances: in close, medium, and long distance.
“The uppercut bag is shaped like a mushroom. You can stay under it while you’re weaving, instead of stepping outside. It keeps you crouched down where you punch it and you keep sliding around it either way. It’s really good to stay underneath it for the inside game.
“[The different bags] are food for your brain in terms of developing different feels. The double end bag gives a different feel from the heavy bag, and so on. It develops all the muscle groups and your mental imagery.”
In the gym, Goossen strives to give Sergey and all his fighters the tools they need to be multi-dimensional fighters. “No matter what type of fighter you are, you try to be well-rounded. You don’t neglect your mainstay, but you have to have a few things you keep in your back pocket. I always try to give them a well-rounded balance, an array and variety of styles that fit into their physicality.”
“Sergey has defied the odds. He’s only got 18 fights. He was a kickboxing champion, came to boxing and became a 140-pound world champion, had a great fight with Mikey Garcia, had a great fight with Lamont Peterson where Sergey’s talent, determination, and effort paid off and we stopped him. We knocked out the late replacement Inson, and the [Custio Clayton] fight where we had a draw—that was another late replacement, and it was a difficult guy who moved a lot and didn’t engage as much.
“Fighters are tough, determined, and built to withstand things the common man or the inadequate fighter wouldn’t be able to. They’re willing to sacrifice to get what they want, and not just in training—I mean in a fight where things may not be going their way, they still carry on and apply themselves. The determination sometimes wins the day. Sergey’s got those qualities; that’s why he’s in the Ennis fight, because he’s worthy of it.”
Goossen discussed one of the most important things a coach can do. “The coach has to impart his confidence in the abilities and qualities of the fighter. That can boost the fighter’s effort, if he feels like he has a comrade-in-arms who is leading him into battle with confidence.
“It reinforces the fighter’s feelings about himself. ‘You are correct that you are this, you are that, you can achieve this.’ You have to believe it as a coach, or else it sounds hollow. When you look in a fighter’s eyes and say, ‘You are this, you can do this,’ it can make a big difference in how they approach a coming battle. It’s the general talking to his troops before a battle.”
For a closer look at Ennis vs Lipinets, check out our fight night page.
- Ennis vs Lipinets