By Jon Uddin✏
To no surprise to Manny Robles Jr, he’s now out as head trainer of former Heavyweight Champion Andy Ruiz Jr.
As 🇲🇽Andy Ruiz spoke you could see the look of disappointment on his head trainer Manny Robles face.
Ruiz had just lost the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO Heavyweight titles in his rematch with Anthony Joshua, whom he lifted the belts from six months prior in New York City in what was most likely the biggest upset of the decade in boxing. And he lost this one big. Joshua’s gameplan under head trainer Rob McCracken worked to perfection, leaving many to struggle to find more than one or two rounds to score for Ruiz.
Now Ruiz was the former Champion, and while Joshua was celebrating his second reign with family, team, and fans, he was facing the post fight question that fighters in his position have dreaded and faced throughout boxing history. “What went wrong”?
Everyone knew what went wrong. Fans knew, media knew, Ruiz knew, and Robles definitely knew.
As he stood next to Ruiz, his eyes appearing to stare off in the distance as he listened to his fighter run down how and why he had put on the excess 15 pounds that impeded his performance Saturday night, you could sense what was going through his mind and almost feel his frustration. They had talked about this. The joy of doing the unthinkable in June was deservedly celebrated, but Robles knew a rematch would lie ahead, and he wanted Ruiz back in the gym by July.
Unfortunately, as many predicted would happen, Ruiz got swallowed up in the glory of the moment and the pleas from both his trainer and father to refocus fell on deaf ears. With training camp being lackluster, and the fight unfolding the way it did, Robles knew what would come next.
As he expected, Robles received the call from Ruiz’s father this week confirming that they would be parting ways. Another disappointing exit from his stable, joining the ranks of Oscar Valdez, former Super-Bantamweight Champion Jessie Magdaleno, and Michael Conlan. Robles acknowledges that it wasn’t going to work anymore as Ruiz wasn’t listening, and Ruiz himself was honest about it in his post fight interview, but it can’t make it any less frustrating for Robles.
“The dad, obviously with him being the manager, he just had no control over his son. None of us had control of him, for that matter.
“So I just saw it coming, it wasn’t going to work because he wasn’t listening. He’s not listening to me, he’s not listening to his dad, he’s not listening to anybody. He said it himself after the press conference.”
“He apologized to me, to the dad, because he fucked up. So I figured, ‘OK, it’s only a matter of time before I get the call.”
“Fortunately for me, Andy took the blame on himself and didn’t sit there like a majority of fighters and blame the coach.”
At the time of the upset over Joshua you could see as much excitement spilling out of Robles as Ruiz when he ran into the ring to embrace his fighter. All trainers want to see their fighter reach the pinnacle of the sport, but they also share in that accomplishment, even if it may be in the shadows.
Of course as Robles and every trainer knows or will eventually learn, they are pulled out of the shadows and into the light when the fighter takes a loss. No matter how unfair it may seem, especially in this case, that’s the nature of the beast, and they know as much coming in. So Robles will carry on as he always has, with no one ever being able to take the moment in June away, but it’s hard not to think the what could have been weighs heavy on his head.
The speculation has already begun as to who will take over as the new trainer for Ruiz, with Teddy Atlas leading the way in the predictions. Whoever takes the reigns, the skillset of Ruiz will be secondary to the work they have to do with his work ethic. Robles proved to be more than capable of preparing Ruiz for the fights he had lined up, but as he stated himself, the one thing he couldn’t do was want it more than he did.