Ruiz v Joshua II: Pressure on McCracken and Robles as the men in the corners

By Sports Desk December 04, 2019

When Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua clash in their rematch for the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles, the tactical battle should prove to be intriguing.

Ruiz shocked the world when he decked Joshua four times on the way to a huge upset win in New York in June.

The Briton will be out to prove that setback was just a bump in the road and bring his superior physical attributes to bear, while Ruiz will aim to show that stunning result was no fluke.

The men calling the shots from the corners will have had their plans in place for some time now. But will Joshua's coach Rob McCracken or Ruiz's cornerman Manny Robles be celebrating?

Here, we look at the two steadying influences behind the big men.

ROB McCRACKEN

Record

A former British light-middleweight champion and middleweight world-title challenger, McCracken rose to global prominence as Carl Froch's trainer – a calm and astute voice in the corner as 'The Cobra' enjoyed a thrilling run at the top of the 168lb division. He also oversaw Great Britain's amateur squad in the build-up to a triumphant 2012 Olympic Games, bringing him into contact with Joshua, the gold medallist he guided to world honours in 16 professional fights.

Career highlight

When London 2012 arrived on the heels of Froch's underdog shellacking of Lucian Bute, there was a strong case to be made that McCracken was the finest British coach operating across any sport at that time. Three-time world champion Froch enjoyed many memorable nights, but his dismantling of feared southpaw Bute at a fervent Nottingham Arena marked a thrilling high for both boxer and trainer.

Career low

The ever-laconic McCracken appears to have taken most of the noise in his stride since Joshua's world came crashing down. Nevertheless, luminaries such as Lennox Lewis openly questioned his credentials, while McCracken's subsequently retracted claim that he let his fighter box on while "concussed" drew widespread criticism. Joshua insists he never considered parting company with his head trainer but has brought additional help into his camp, adding Angel Fernandez and Joby Clayton to the team.

What he said

"I think my reputation should speak for itself and my first concern is always for the fighters. That should never be questioned," McCracken told reporters this week, before expressing unexpected solidarity with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. "At this level, you're going to take stick. It comes with the territory and I've got a thick skin. The Manchester United manager is going to take stick if they lose and this is the equivalent in boxing."

What they said

"I feel like where we come from, loyalty means everything," Joshua told BBC Sport when discussing his coach's position. "I'm not perfect, Rob's not perfect but we're definitely trying. If I have the attitude to change Rob, then I might as well have the attitude to stop boxing after I've lost."

MANNY ROBLES

Record

Robles followed in his father's footsteps by stepping into a boxing gym and picking up the pads. Like McCracken, he honed his pedigree among elite amateurs, coaching the United States’ national team. In 2016, he led Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno to world titles on the same bill in Las Vegas – serving notice of a burgeoning world-class stable.

Career highlight

Allowing for his previous successes, masterminding one of the biggest world-title shocks in the history of the sport stands alone. Ruiz did not simply beat Joshua because of the discombobulating "punch from the gods" in round three, but systematically took a befuddled champion apart – bringing intelligent footwork and under-rated hand speed to bear, while also attacking clinically to the body.

Career low

Ruiz's toppling of Joshua chimed so satisfyingly because of what came before. Valdez, Magdaleno, Dominic Breazeale and Michael Conlan all left his stable in relatively quick succession for differing reasons. Former WBO featherweight king Valdez remains undefeated, with Robles saying their split was down to the fighter's manager, Frank Espinoza.

What he said

"Andy's the world champion, so we have to make sure he stays disciplined and grounded. My job is to keep him in line and remind him what got him here," Robles told the Guardian after he and his pupil enjoyed their night of all nights. "I know Andy will listen. We've been through too much to give it all up."

What they said

"Manny, you’ve been by my side since day one," Ruiz told Robles at a recent workout, as reported by The Athletic. "Only you understand where I am and what I've been going through."

Related items

  • Garcia beats Redkach after alleged eighth-round bite Garcia beats Redkach after alleged eighth-round bite

    Danny Garcia scored an unanimous decision victory over Ivan Redkach in a WBC welterweight title elimination fight in New York on Saturday.

    Heavily favoured after stopping Adrian Granados in April, 31-year-old Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) turned in a workmanlike performance over 12 rounds to defeat his Ukrainian opponent.

    The only real drama came when Redkach (23-5-1, 18 KOs) appeared to bite the American on the shoulder during the eighth round.

    Garcia laughed off the incident, telling Showtime: "He said 'Mike Tyson' when he bit me. I said: 'Ref, he bit me!' That's my first time ever getting bitten in a fight. Things happen, though."

    A former two-division champion, Garcia could now look to a meeting with either Manny Pacquiao or Errol Spence Jr.

    "Either of those fights I would like to have," he said. "I think my style fits great with both fighters, or even a rematch with Keith Thurman, or Mikey Garcia.”

    On the undercard, Jarred Hurd had to contend with boos from the Brooklyn crowd before beating Francisco Santana (25-8-1, 12 KOs) via unanimous decision.

    Hurd (24-1, 16 KOs) was jeered during the second half of a forgettable affair despite cruising to a comfortable victory in his first fight since the surprise loss to Julian Williams in May.

  • Australian Open 2020: Timeline of Nadal-Kyrgios feud ahead of Melbourne blockbuster Australian Open 2020: Timeline of Nadal-Kyrgios feud ahead of Melbourne blockbuster

    It is safe to say 19-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal and outspoken Australian Nick Kyrgios are not friends.

    Their feud stems back to February last year and shows no signs of subsiding ahead of Monday's last-16 showdown at the Australian Open.

    As the pair renew hostilities in Melbourne, we look at the timeline of events that has led to tennis' biggest feud.

     

    February 2019 - Sparks fly in Acapulco​

    Kyrgios' first meeting with Nadal was at the All England Club in 2014 - the then-19-year-old Kyrgios stunning the two-time Wimbledon champion to reach the quarter-finals.

    However, their Mexican Open date five years later changed things completely. Kyrgios took down Nadal in the second round en route to winning the ATP Tour tournament. Kyrgios was at his brilliant and menacing best, rallying from a set down, saving three match points and attempting underarm serves. He also complained that Nadal was taking too long to serve.

    Afterwards, Nadal told reporters: "He's a player who has enormous talent, could be winning grand slams or fighting for the number one ranking. He lacks respect for the crowd, his opponent and towards himself… I don't think he's a bad guy, but he lacks a little respect for the public and the rival."

    Kyrgios responded by saying: "He doesn't know anything about me. So, I'm not going to listen at all. That's the way I play. The way he plays is very slow in between points. The rule in the book says he has to pay to the speed of the server, but Rafa has his speed every time, so I'm not going to comment on him. He's got his own game. I've got my game. We played well. That's the sport. People are different so I'm not going to take that into consideration at all."

    March 2019 - Uncle Toni takes aim at Kyrgios

    At Indian Wells, Nadal tried to quell what he said, but his uncle Toni reignited the fire as he got involved.

    In an interview with Radio Marca, Toni Nadal said: "Rafa is totally right. He [Kyrgios] lacks education and smartness. He should be fighting for the top rankings and instead, he is number 40. He does not look like a bad guy but he has been disrespectful too many times to get back on track."

    May 2019 - Kyrgios returns serve as war of words continue

    Never one to sit back and hold fire, Kyrgios responded in his appearance on podcast 'No Challenges Remaining' as the maligned Australian ruffled feathers ahead of the French Open.

    Describing Nadal as "salty", the unfiltered Kyrgios told tennis writer Ben Rothenberg: "When he wins, it's fine. He won't say anything bad, he'll credit the opponent, 'He was a great player'. But as soon as I beat him, it's just like, 'He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game'.

    "It's not a good look for you, I feel. And then uncle Toni came out saying, 'He lacks education'. I'm like, 'Bra [brother], I did 12 years at school, you idiot. I'm very educated. I understand that you're upset I beat your family again'."

    July 2019 - Kyrgios and Nadal reunite at Wimbledon

    Fans and pundits were licking their lips when Kyrgios and Nadal went head-to-head in the second round of Wimbledon. Nadal emerged triumphant in four sets after an eventful and tense battle. Kyrgios served underarm, received a code violation for unsportsmanlike behaviour and hit the unimpressed Nadal with a powerful forehand.

    Asked if he regretted not apologising for hitting Nadal, Kyrgios responded: "Why would I apologise?… I didn't hit him. Hit his racquet, no? Why would I apologise? I won the point."

    "I don't care. Why would I apologise? I mean, the dude has got how many slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest, bro. I'm not going to apologise to him at all," Kyrgios added.

    "I was going for him. Yeah, I wanted to hit him square in the chest. Like, he's got decent hands."

    January 2020 - Kyrgios impersonates Nadal as tension builds

    Fast forward to the Australian Open and Kyrgios has already added more spice to a tasty fourth-round matchup. Kyrgios impersonated Nadal as he was called for a time violation during his win against Gilles Simon in the second round at Melbourne Park.

    When asked if he liked Kyrgios following Saturday's routine victory over Pablo Carreno Busta, Nadal's response was telling. "I don't know. I don't know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion," Nadal told reporters. "It's clear, of course, that when he does stuff that in my opinion is not good, I don't like. 

    "When he plays good tennis and he shows passion for this game, he is a positive player for our tour, and I want my tour bigger, not smaller. So the players who make the tour bigger are important for the tour. When he's ready to play his best tennis and play with passion, is one of these guys. When he's doing the other stuff, of course I don't like."

    After earning a date with Nadal courtesy of a marathon five-setter, Kyrgios said in a news conference: "At the end of the day, we're two different tennis players. We go about it completely different… Regardless, if we don't like each other or whatever, I think there's a layer of respect. He's one of the greatest of all time. 

    "I also read that he thinks I'm good for the sport. There's a layer of respect that we both have for each other. Doesn't necessarily mean we like each other, but we're going to go out there and give contrasting styles and personalities.

    "I don't really know Rafa. I've never hung out with him or anything like that. So I don't really know how he is. I don't really dislike him. I don't know him at all. Hell of a tennis player. Don't know him as a person. I'm sure he's okay."

  • Australian Open 2020: Federer's best wins in Melbourne after reaching 100 victories Australian Open 2020: Federer's best wins in Melbourne after reaching 100 victories

    Roger Federer secured his 100th Australian Open win by beating John Millman in Melbourne on Friday.

    The Swiss star has never lost before the third round at the year's first grand slam and his title bid continued with an epic five-set triumph over the home favourite on Rod Laver Arena.

    Federer moved onto a century of wins at the Australian Open, a year after reaching the same mark at Wimbledon.

    The 20-time grand slam champion became the first man to post 100 wins at a single major by getting to the landmark at the All England Club.

    We take a look at five of his best wins at the Australian Open.

     

    First round, 2000: bt Michael Chang 6-4 6-4 7-6 (7-5)

    Federer's first win at the tournament came 20 years ago, when – ranked 62nd in the world – he upset Chang. Federer had finished 1999 by winning a Challenger Tour event in Brest and he got to the third round in Melbourne before falling to Arnaud Clement. An 18-year-old Federer showcased his talent by beating Chang in his opener, which marked his first main-draw singles win at a grand slam.

    Semi-final, 2004: bt Juan Carlos Ferrero [3] 6-4 6-1 6-4

    Federer produced a spectacular run on his way to a first Australian Open title in 2004, including rushing past Ferrero in the semi-finals. Having already beaten Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian, Federer needed less than 90 minutes to crush Ferrero and secure the world number one ranking before recording a straight-sets win over Marat Safin in the final.

    Semi-final, 2007: bt Andy Roddick [6] 6-4 6-0 6-2

    Federer tormented Roddick during the American's career but their last-four clash in 2007 promised to be a thriller, after the Swiss needed four sets to beat the same opponent months earlier in the US Open final. However, it proved to be anything but as Federer crushed Roddick in just 83 minutes. "I was playing out of my mind. I am shocked myself," Federer said afterwards.

    Last 16, 2009: bt Tomas Berdych [20] 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4 6-2

    Only once in his illustrious career has Federer come from two sets to love down to win at the Australian Open and it came against the Czech in 2009. Berdych had taken complete control of the encounter before allowing Federer back into the match, the Swiss winning after three hours and 25 minutes. He would go on to reach the final before falling to Rafael Nadal in five sets.

    Final, 2017: bt Rafael Nadal [9] 6-4 3-6 6-1 3-6 6-3

    Having undergone knee surgery the previous year, Federer started 2017 at the Hopman Cup but, without a major title since his 17th at Wimbledon in 2012, few gave him much of a chance in Melbourne. However, he fought his way into the final before edging Nadal in a thriller, moving onto 18 major titles and leaving his Spanish rival on 14.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.