Manny Robles III was born into boxing, and on Saturday, he has his first crack at a claim to a world title when he takes on Xu Can for the WBA “world” featherweight belt on the Cancio-Alvarado 2 card, which will stream live on DAZN.
“Ever since I can remember, I have been boxing. I was a baby when I started boxing,” he said during his media workout this week. “But the first thing I can remember is being at LA Boxing, which no longer exists. The gym was full of great pros and fighters, and of course my grandfather was a trainer there as well. He was a great coach back in the day, along with my father. I remember being with both of them there.
“Being around my grandfather and my father was a great thing. They were an excellent team. My grandfather was one of the best trainers around, and may he rest in peace. It was a great experience to be around such champions like Martin Castillo, Israel Vazquez and Reggie Johnson. They motivated me when I was little. It was something I wanted to do since I was a baby.”
Robles, 25, was a standout amateur and part of that success came from the work he got in the gym with top-level pros.
“My amateur experience has a lot to do with where I am today,” he said. “When I was an amateur, I was able to spar with world champions. That’s pretty crazy. I never cared about who I sparred with. My father taught me how to think, so I wasn’t scared to get in there with them. I was able to learn from the best and get experience. That helped me prepare for this moment of my career.”
But adapting to the pro game has seen him have to make changes, and has also seen him tested in his last couple of outings.
“I was more technical as an amateur but being with Rudy Hernandez has taught me to sit on my punches more and use my body more,” Robles said. “He taught me how to fight inside. My father trained me for pretty much my entire fight, but now Rudy Hernandez is my head trainer. It was a big sacrifice for my dad. It was something we decided to do. He understood that. It was a sacrifice he knew he had to do.”
Can (17-2, 3 KO) may not have the record of a big puncher, but the 25-year-old Chinese fighter is on a good roll, winning 14 straight overall. His last two outings — a decision over Jesus Rojas and a stoppage of Shun Kubo — have seen him looking like a mature young fighter hitting a groove.
“For this fight, I’m going to have to throw when he throws,” Robles said. “He’s a high-volume puncher. I’m going to use a lot of footwork. I have to have a certain distance, too. I can’t give him the distance to let his punches go, especially because of his high output. I have to be careful with that. I’m going to have to counter and let my punches go.”
With his first world title shot just days away, Robles has been looking back to the start of his boxing journey, as he’s got a chance to hit a major milestone this weekend.
“If I win this world title, it’s going to mean a lot. Growing up in this sport, it’s crazy to be here now and fighting for a world title. It’s a dream come true.
“If I could, I would tell my grandfather. ‘Thank you. Thank you for giving me that experience that you had and by being the great trainer that you were.’ I would also tell my father a lot of things. We are very close. We have a great relationship. He’s done so much for me. He’s made so many sacrifices. Thank you, dad, for all the sacrifices that you’ve done for me and never giving up on me. Thank you for believing me since Day 1, when I was nine years old and had my first amateur fight at Azteca Boxing Club. I love you.”