By: Sean Crose
Whatever Andy Ruiz’ trainer Manny Robles is getting paid for his fighter’s rematch with Anthony Joshua this weekend, he deserves a bonus. For it was Robles who took about an hour’s worth of calls from Saudi Arabia on Thursday after Ruiz, who was supposed to be on the call, didn’t make it (“I don’t know what happened,” Robles said, explaining that he is in no way involved with his fighter’s media obligations). Talkative by nature, the veteran corner man answered question after question from the media, often at considerable length…no easy task. Again, the guy deserves a bonus.
“He’s a warrior,” Robles said of Joshua, who’s looking to regain his heavyweight belts on Saturday, “and we have nothing but respect for Anthony Joshua.” When I asked if team Ruiz was ready for a stylistically different Joshua this time around, Robles confidently answered in the affirmative. “We’re prepared,” he responded. “We had months to prepare…we were able to bring in some very good sparring partners.” Yet Robles made it clear that “we also have to understand we have a monster (before us) in Anthony Joshua.”
There were, of course, questions about Ruiz’ weight. Unlike the first fight with Joshua, the chubby Ruiz has had a full camp this time around. “During camp, we had a talk,” Robles said of he and his fighter. “(We) tried to figure out where he felt at his best.” Ultimately, he and Ruiz “made the decision to stick to his weight,” which means the defending champion will walk into the ring this weekend weighing about 268 pounds. Robles said that Ruiz had been dropping weight, but “he was feeling drained,” so the fighter “put the weight back on.” As far as the trainer was concerned, it wasn’t too significant a matter. “I really don’t think,” he said, “the weight has anything to do with it.”
What did appear, quite surprisingly, to concern Robles was his fighter’s confidence. Robles indicated he sees it as his job to “get him (Ruiz) to believe in himself. It’s something you have to get on every day with him.” As far as Robles is concerned, Ruiz has the skills to keep hanging with the world’s best. “Andy Ruiz is a complete fighter,” he stated bluntly. Robles also made it clear that he wants others to respect Ruiz and his team, as well. “I’m hoping we get a fair shake,” he said, referring to the officials for Saturday’s fight. “This is the Anthony Joshua show.”
Questioned about the leadup to this weekend’s bout, Robles was polite, but on point. “We never had a press conference in Mexico,” he said. “We never had a press conference in California, back home…that’s got to tell you something.” Even though Ruiz is the champion, Robles feels like his fighter wasn’t treated as an equal during the promotion. “I don’t think that was fair,” he said. None of the leadup will matter, however, once the opening bell rings on Saturday. “You hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” Robles said honestly. Not that he’s expecting his man to lose.
“There’s nothing on my mind right now other than Anthony Joshua,” he said.