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Andy Ruiz Jr.'s victory a breakthrough moment for trainer Manny Robles

Lance Pugmire, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Boxing

NEW YORK -- Andy Ruiz Jr.'s historic triumph over Anthony Joshua seemed like a dream to Ruiz's trainer, Manny Robles, until he was asked to reflect on how it happened.

Then, the tears flowed.

For as stunning as Ruiz's seventh-round stoppage of previously unbeaten, three-belt heavyweight champion Joshua was to become the first heavyweight champion of Mexican descent, Robles had accomplished a stirring return from near irrelevance.

"I never threw in the towel. You and the public know the adversity I've been through in life and boxing, but I never gave up," Robles said after guiding the pudgy Ruiz (33-1, 22 knockouts) to his startling four-knockdown dismantling of the muscular Englishman at a sold-out Madison Square Garden.

About two years ago, Robles had moved his stable of fighters to a new location, Legendz Boxing in Norwalk, housing featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, super-bantamweight world champion Jessie Magdaleno, heavyweight title contender Dominic Breazeale and high-profile Irish prospect Michael Conlan.

One by one, each of them split with Robles. Magdaleno had struggled with his weight and ultimately lost his belt. Breazeale opted to align with Bay Area trainer Virgil Hunter. Conlan returned to Ireland.

 

The most stinging parting was that of the unbeaten Valdez, who decided with manager Frank Espinoza that Robles didn't pay sufficient attention to defense following a March 2018 victory against overweight Scott Quigg, a bout Valdez boldly opted to keep before suffering a fractured jaw that sidelined him for a year.

Robles had previously housed Valdez in Lake Elsinore, and they'd make daily drives to their former training home in Carson, building a bond that seemed unbreakable before Valdez opted to leave Robles for Canelo Alvarez's trainer, Eddy Reynoso.

Robles had the sport's credo hammered into him: A fighter gets credit for victory, and it's the trainer who's blamed for a loss.

At the lowest point, it might have been easy to fold up the new shop and find another pursuit. Robles' assistant trainer, Edgar "Estrellita" Jasso, said Robles found inspiration in recalling the training work of his late father, Manuel Robles Sr.

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