Espinoza Boxing and Manuel Robles go camping in Mexico
With WBO featherweight titlist Oscar Valdez facing perhaps his sternest test as a professional prizefighter, when he faces Scott Quigg on March 10 and WBO super bantamweight beltholder Jessie Magdaleno looking at mandatory challenger Isaac Dogboe in his upcoming bout, it was decided by manager Frank Espinoza to take his stable of boxers to a remote training camp.
Currently they are in Mexico, on the outskirts of Guadalajara, where they have all been, since last weekend.
Training this crew (which also includes Antonio Orozco, Joselito Velasquez and Raul Curiel) is Manuel Robles, who said, last Friday, from the Legendz Boxing Gym in Norwalk, California, “I think it’s a great idea. I think it’s definitely a great idea to get away. I mean, this is Hollywood and we’re going to a good place. We’re going to have great sparring. We’re going to be in a good place, so it should be good.”
Valdez was already there last week and began preparing for Quigg. “He’s an animal,” said Robles, chuckling. “He’s ready to go.”
The gym that is being used is on the property owned by the father of Rafael Espinoza, another fighter managed by Espinoza (no relation). The respected manager tells UCNLive.com, “Oscar has wanted to train and prepare in Mexico for awhile and, with this big fight coming up, this was the perfect time to do it and really get focused. And to also provide a real work atmosphere for my other boxers, who have had some issues in the past, so this is what I decided to organize for my guys.”
“There’s quite a bit of altitude there and the main thing here is not so much the altitude but to get away and the privacy,” said Robles, who had to break the news to his wife that he wouldn’t be home for awhile. And how did that go? “Not good, man,” he said, chuckling. “I was in New York for three weeks. Now I have to leave for six, seven weeks. She doesn’t like it one bit but it is what it is.”
Espinoza, who says he doled out over $900 of his own money to purchase essentials like tape, gauze and a scale, believes experiences like this can be vital for fighters.
“It gets them out of their comfort zone and really makes them focus on the job and I know they are in good hands with Manuel – who, by the way, has the only key to the house. So if they sneak out, they aren’t going to be able sneak back in without him knowing,” Espinoza joked, “but really this should be a productive period of time for them. They have some really important fights coming up.”
Yeah, while this can be a bonding experience, what do they say about familiarity breeding contempt?
Well, Robles has no such concerns.
“Not at all,” he stated, “Oscar and I have a great relationship and we’re constantly on the phone and communicating with one another. The moment we suspected it was Scott Quigg, we started talking about the fight. I starting sending him videos. We talked and made sure we were talking about the game plan, when we would get into camp. We both know what we’re facing and looking at.”
After blowing his scheduled bout in September against Roberto Ortiz, which was the semi-main on HBO, Orozco left his longtime trainer Carlos Barragan and Espinoza asked Robles if he’d take this assignment.
“I wasn’t hesitant at all,” said Robles, about taking on Orozco, who has failed to make 140 pounds in two of his last three scheduled outings. “I thank Frank for the opportunity to consider me, out of so many great coaches out there – he considered me and I’m extremely humbled by the opportunity. I did it with Jessie and I’m going to do it with Orozco.”
Magdaleno was another fighter with a history of problems at the scales, that Espinoza brought to Robles.
“I trust Manny. I know how hard he works and how much he cares about his boxers. I think being around a new environment and with other world-class boxers will really help Antonio,” said Espinoza.
So how can Robles change the direction of Orozco’s career?
“I think the most important thing is diet and being with him 24 hours a day and 100 percent of the time and I’m bringing my scale. So everybody there knows there’s no hiding, we’re all living in the same place, be training in the same gym. We’re hiring a chef to make sure they have the proper diet and nutrition and I’m going to do be there 100 percent of the time. I’ve done this long enough to understand how to cut weight properly and how to get them to make weight.”
Robles explained further, “There’s a process of making weight. I can’t think of a fighter I worked with that hasn’t made weight. I take pride in my work and I know what needs to be done but, at the same time, I put in my two cents but I expect that from the fighter. If a fighter is not willing to put in work to make the weight, what am I going to do?”
This week’s edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and me featured a lengthy spot with Tom Loeffler of 360 Promotions.
My old cohort at Maxboxing, Doug Fischer, joined Mario Lopez and me, in-studio, for this week’s ‘The 3 Knockdown Rule.”
Showtime formally announced the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz fight for March 3 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York…Golden Boy Promotions announced, on Friday, that Joseph Diaz Jr. will face Victor Terrazas on February 22, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, in Indio, California, on ESPN2…The plan for Diaz is to enforce his mandatory position versus WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. next…The WFC returns to the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa on February 10, with a card headlined by Andrew Cancio…Top Rank will release ticket information for Valdez-Quigg next week. This card will take place at the StubHub Center in Carson…Finally warming up again in Southern California…Does Lavar Ball actually have a point about Luke Walton?…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.