Boxing News At Five

Boxing News at Five: Ruiz Jnr splits from Robles, Usyk lines up warm-up fight ahead of Joshua shot

Andy Ruiz
Andy Ruiz Jnr and trainer Manny Robles (Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)
Andy Ruiz Jnr splits from trainer Manny Robles following Anthony Joshua defeat, and Oleksandr Usyk contemplates taking a warm-up fight

IT seemed an inevitability the moment Manny Robles told Andy Ruiz Jnr what he thought of his preparation ahead of a December 7 rematch with Anthony Joshua, but now it’s official: Ruiz and Robles are a team no more.

There have been rumours for weeks now that the two have been moving in separate circles since the Joshua defeat and Robles even admitted he has yet to speak to the former heavyweight champion since leaving Saudi Arabia. Well, it has all now come to a head and Robles is a goner.

“I’ve seen it coming, I’ll be honest with you,” Robles told ESPN. “Andy was just doing whatever the hell he wanted to do. 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 (post-fight) press conference.

“Fortunately for me, Andy took the blame on himself and didn’t sit there like a majority of fighters and blame the coach.

“They apparently told them that they didn’t want the same thing to repeat itself again.”

Just as Robles was praised for his role in Ruiz’s June 2018 victory over Joshua, he has now, if not publicly, taken a portion of the blame for how it all went wrong six months later. He rightly points out, however, that he is not the first coach to find himself in this unfortunate position, nor will he be the last.

Moreover, there are more good memories than bad ones.

“I’m absolutely grateful and blessed to have been able to experience everything I was able to experience in 2019.

“I mean, we made history, and I have to be thankful for that.

“I have to be thankful to Andy and his dad for giving me the opportunity to be part of something special, to have made history – for him to become the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the world.”

Alas, eight months after they made history, Andy Ruiz and Manny Robles are history.

Andy Ruiz
Ruiz and his team celebrate a monumental victory

Now that it appears Anthony Joshua’s next fight will be against Kubrat Pulev in May, the other man in the running, Oleksandr Usyk, could decide to take a warm-up fight rather than rest on his laurels and wait his turn.

Usyk, Joshua’s WBO mandatory challenger, had hoped to get to Joshua first, but Pulev, his IBF mandatory challenger, has seemingly beaten him to the punch, leaving the Ukrainian out in the cold, at least temporarily. This offers him a choice: hold firm and avoid risking his number one ranking or keep active and fight another heavyweight contender.

According to Usyk’s manager, Egis Klimas, the plan is to do the latter, perhaps in the form of a fight against either Dereck Chisora or Joseph Parker, the New Zealander who previously held Joshua’s WBO crown.

Interestingly, though, Parker’s trainer, Kevin Barry, expects Usyk to sit back and wait rather than tackle his man or indeed anyone else.

“I honestly believe what we’re going to see is Usyk (choosing to wait) and he will fight Joshua in the summer, providing Joshua blows out Pulev, which he should look spectacular doing,” he told Sky Sports. “I would love nothing more than the opportunity for us to fight Usyk, but the reality of it is, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

If it’s all ifs, buts and maybes for Parker and Chisora at this point, Usyk and Pulev can at least feel reassured to know that so long as they stay undefeated this year they will get the shot at gold they have long been searching for. And, rest assured, staying undefeated will be their aim.

Oleksandr Usyk
Usyk plays the waiting game

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