Ismael Salas: Robeisy Ramirez can emulate Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jorge Linares

Ismael Salas believes Robeisy Ramirez can earn parity with Guillermo Rigondeaux, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jorge Linares as one of the finest he has worked with.

The 29-year-old Cuban on Tuesday makes the first defence of his WBO featherweight title, when at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo on the undercard of Stephen Fulton-Naoya Inoue he fights Satoshi Shimizu of Japan.

Salas, also of Cuba, is among the world’s most respected trainers, and not only because of his success with Rigondeaux, Gamboa and Linares in professional boxing. In the great Felix Savon, among the most decorated of all amateurs, he is credited with schooling one of the greatest amateur fighters of all time. 

He rebuilt Linares so that the Venezuelan realised his vast potential but for all of the talent of Rigondeaux and Gamboa could do little to stop the fact that his two compatriots underachieved. Ramirez and Andy Cruz lead the latest generation of Cuban fighters, and the experienced Salas is convinced that Ramirez is continuing to improve and will therefore prove another of the best.

“I’ve had many great fighters,” he told ProBox TV. “So many. Robeisy can be one. Rigondeaux. Erislandy Lara. Linares. Gamboa [are among the others]. Now I have [also Kazuto] Ioka.

“[Ramirez] can be, because his general IQ is very high. His IQ in the ring – he’s a master. Master. There he knows every step; every move; where he put his punch. But his transition from amateur, to professional [boxing] – he need more and more and more. Even his last fight [against Isaac Dogboe in April], we won – he got the belt – but it’s not enough.

“I don’t care who [he is matched with], because I like to be a trainer. I like to be, totally, the trainer. The matchmaking I leave to the management team. [But] he’s already ready for the top guys. He needs to transition, but his transition will get better with better opposition. He will get better. The best opposition [can] come from now, with those guys.

“He’s got good discipline. Sometimes Cuban fighters – they have their own way. They’ve been programmed by the Cuban government. To come here [to America; Salas is based in Las Vegas] is to start their transition – transition mentally. Technically they’re amazing – amazing.”

Salas is also preparing Joe Joyce for the rematch with Zhilei Zhang that has been scheduled for September 23. 

The trainer’s career was threatened by a succession of injuries, contributing to Joyce instead working with Adam Booth and Abel Sanchez. His wrist and elbow have since recovered and through wearing strapping on his shoulder he has been able to resume working. He has also recruited Yanier Lescay – Yordenis Ugas’ cousin – and Fernando Diaz of Mexico to be his assistants as he prepares for the coming 10 years. 

“It was wrist broke; elbow broke; shoulder,” he explained. “I recovered. I have so many fighters – I’ve been fighting for months, non-stop. Every Saturday, in different places. But, it’s my job. I’m fine – very fine.

“I’m 66 years old now. I believe, 10 more years I can [continue to train]. Maybe not the same way as today, because I’ll slow down – it’s the cycle of life. But still, I will keep going.

“I got my assistant. He’s new from Cuba – a very good teacher. A Mexican, too. So I’ve created my team to support my work. I need to create a legacy.”