The best way for Andy Ruiz Jr to repeat his win over Anthony Joshua is to continue where he left off in June in New York, according to his trainer, Manny Robles.
Ruiz makes the first defence of his WBA, WBO and IBF heavyweight titles in a rematch with Joshua at Diriyah on Saturday but having dropped Joshua four times in the first fight, the temptgation must be there for Ruiz to try things the same way again.
“This is the eighth round,” Robles said. “This has to be the continuation of the last fight. Seek and destroy. We know we are the underdogs.
“We like the underdog mentality mainly because we’ve always had our backs against the wall, understanding where we have come from and what we have had to do to get where we are today, it takes a lot of courage and a lot of blood sweat and tears.”
Robles was there for that high with Ruiz, he was also there for the lows. Flash back 15 months earlier and Ruiz looked the forgotten man of the world heavyweight division. He had more than 12 months out of the ring after losing to Joseph Parker for the WBO title then made his return way down the undercard on a rainy night at the Stub Hub Centre in Carson, California.
“It was tough and rough because you’re not really making any money so you’re barely making enough money to get by,” Robles said. “It becomes tough when you’re about to get evicted because you don’t have money to pay your rent or pay for gas or take care of your loved ones. But boxing is a game of patience, you have to be patient and surround yourself with people who care for you and love you and look out for you when you have nothing.
“He was forgotten but all it takes is just having an opportunity. Keep grinding, keep showing up and something’s about to happen. Something good has to come from all this hard work. Luckily, we had the opportunity to fight the Alexander Dimitrenko fight [in April] then to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world.
“There’s no such thing as a coincidence, everything happens for a reason. Maybe my experiences in life helped me get where I am today to help guys like Andy Ruiz, not just to be a coach but to be a friend, and to tell them there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Stick to the programme and things will change for the better.”
Some will look at Ruiz and wonder if the success has gone to his head. As well as a new mansion, Ruiz has spent big on cars, as well as some opulent looking jewellery.
“It doesn’t concern me because it doesn’t have anything to do with training,” Robles said. “As long as he shows up to the gym every day he can buy 10 cars and 10 houses.
“His upbringing and his parents, keep him grounded and have good communication, letting him know what really matters in life. Material things come and go but what really matters is creating a legacy.
“You have an entire Latino and Mexican community and people all over the world who have become Andy Ruiz fans and he has a responsibility to those people.”
Last time he had just five weeks’ notice for his shot at Joshua. Now Ruiz has had a full camp and Robles says he is feeling the benefit.
“Fights are won in the gym and we’ve had a great camp,” he said. “Some people say we got lucky but there’s no such thing as luck. Luck is where opportunity and expectation meet. He’s the heavyweight champion of the world and he’s had 12 weeks to prepare.
“I know that [Joshua] is not scared and doesn’t have any fear. That’s why I have so much respect for boxing because it takes a lot to step into that ring and put your life on the line.
“I like the fact that we’re still the underdog and there’s a lot of people out there who don’t believe in us, but we do and at the end of the day that’s all that matters.
‘I’m curious to see what AJ’s going to do. We have a great game plan in place and I believe we have to go out and execute and whatever Anthony brings to the table I’m sure we’ll be ready for it.”