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Ronnie Shields on Canelo-Cintron, Lara, Rigondeaux

By Chris Robinson

There are very few trainers in the sport who consistently seem connected to as many talented pugs as Ronnie Shields. Putting in his work in Houston, Texas, the former junior welterweight title challenger has worked with the likes of Juan ‘Baby Bull’ Diaz, Mike Tyson, Pernell Whitaker and David Tua while presently honing the skills of former champion Kermit Cintron, Erislandy Lara, light heavyweight prospect Mike Lee, interim WBA junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, and unbeaten super middleweight Edwin Rodriguez, amongst others.

A lot has been going on recently in Shields’ life, from Lara’s inspiring performance against Paul Williams in July, a fight in which everyone felt he was robbed, Rigondeaux’s upcoming date against WBA champion Rico Ramos on December 31st, Cintron’s shot at WBC junior middleweight champ Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in late November, and the recent addition of Rodriguez to his stable.
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I caught up with Shields recently to discuss the Rigondeaux-Ramos clash, the chances he feels Cintron has against Alvarez, what it’s like working with Rodriguez, his frustrations at Lara not being able to land a meaningful fight, as well as his thoughts on this weekend’s trilogy bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
 
This is what Shields had to say…

Rico Ramos vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux on December 31st…
“Both fighters are really good fighters. They both have a lot of amateur experience. It’s going to be a very competitive fight. I think Rigondeaux probably has more amateur experience and he’s a little bit older than Ramos, and Rigondeaux has more man-strength than Ramos and I think in order for him to win he has to use that, along with all the talents that he has.”
 
The natural talent of Rigondeaux…
“He’s a very smart kid in the ring. When you look at him and you look at him fight, he knows exactly what to do. You can train him and show him things like that, but a lot of things that he does, it comes naturally and a lot of the things he does, you can’t teach. I think he was born to be a fighter.”
 
Kermit Cintron bouncing back from his July 9th loss to Carlos Molina to defeat Antwone Smith one month later and eventually land the Alvarez fight…
“The thing about it, when you have a fighter like Kermit Cintron, who’s been off for like fourteen months and you can come back in a tough fight like Carlos Molina, then you lose and to get him to come back two weeks later, I think it says a lot about the team. It says a lot for him too that he wanted to come back right away to get himself back in position. He did that and obviously got the fight with ‘Canelo’. I think if he wouldn’t have come right back and fought, I think he would have never got the ‘Canelo’ fight. He’s happy that he did that. A lot of people didn’t think that was a good idea for him, but that lets you know that not everybody knows what they are talking about.”

Sizing up ‘Canelo’ Alvarez…
“I think that Saul Alvarez is a very good fighter. He’s one of those guys that is a really good counter-puncher but at the same time, he’s a puncher also, but the thing is, he hasn’t fought anybody with the experience of a Kermit Cintron. I think Kermit will probably be the biggest guy he has fought in his career, so he’s hasn’t fought a big, strong guy that can push him around and he’s been stunned a few times but he hasn’t really been hurt yet. Kermit Cintron is going to present all of those problems for him.”
 
Taking advantage of Alvarez’s weaknesses…
“I see a lot of things that he does that we can take advantage of. So, you know, that’s what we have to do. That’s the reason we watch tape, to exploit the habits that he has and some of the bad things that he does. He’s not a perfect fighter, no one is. I think the whole thing is we have to take advantage of all the things he does wrong.”

The frustrations of seeing Erislandy Lara without a meaningful fight…
“Absolutely. I think it hurt him to the fact that now, nobody wants to fight him. People really see how good of a fighter he is now so now I think they are going to avoid him like the plague. It’s too bad because Erislandy is a very exciting fighter and he’s good for boxing. Nobody wants to fight him; Angulo turned him down, Kirkland turned him down, Vanes Martirosyan, the WBO champion [Sergiy Dzinziruk] turned him down, and it’s a shame that everybody is turning this kid down but sooner or later, somebody’s going to have to fight him and we’re expecting great things from him.”

When he first started working with Lara and Rigondeaux…
“With Erislandy Lara, I met him in Chicago. He fought on the undercard of the Juan Diaz vs. Paulie Malignaggi rematch and he let me know through him manager, Luis De Cubas, that he would like to come work with me. So that night we sat down and talked and he came to Houston right after that. We saw that we could work together and I think word got out between the Cubans that I was working him and here comes Rigondeaux. They called and he came down, he liked the way I worked with Lara and the rest is history.”

Getting used to working with Lara and Rigondeaux, both Cubans…
“Cubans are not easy to train. They expect certain things from you. It’s really hard to train a Cuban fighter. Once you get them to understand what you are doing, it becomes a lot easier. Number one, they don’t want to ever be trained by an amateur coach, they want to be trained by a professional coach. They are certain things that you have to understand, that Cubans are used to certain things. I don’t want to elaborate too much because I don’t want a lot of people to know exactly what I am doing with them but with the Cubans you have to really make them understand what they want them to do. And once you show them and they get it and they understand it, they are OK with it. But some things you show them, sometimes they are not going to put themselves out and do things if they feel it’s not good for them.”

Paying attention to the game plan…
“You have to work with their style. And that’s what they want. Not trying to make them out to an American fighter. They are who they are, they’re going to be who they’re going to be, so you have to work with that. What I found out is that I add stuff to it and I just convince them to try it and so far everything I have asked them to do, they have done, and we’ve had success. Look at the way Lara fought Paul Williams. Nobody expected him to do that. But in the gym, that’s what we did. Because everything you saw him do was what we had done in the gym. You pay attention to what the game plan was and he went out and conquered. He might have lost the fight but he shouldn’t be punished for that but now it seems like nobody wants to fight him.”

Edwin ‘La Bomba’ Rodriguez…
“Edwin is a gem. Edwin is a really great fighter and a really great person also. And I love working with Edwin Rodriguez and Edwin, one day, he’s going to be a future star in boxing, without a doubt. Edwin is a very hard worker and he’s going to give you everything he has every day. And I’m  just excited to be working with him also. And I love working with great fighters.”
 
Foreseeing a late stoppage for Manny Pacquiao this weekend in Las Vegas over Juan Manuel Marquez…
“I think it’s going to be an exciting fight from the beginning but I have to go with Pacquiao. I think Pacquiao is too big and too strong for him. Pacquiao has been fighting at that weight for a while now and it’s not like they both are at 130 pounds. Pacquiao is so used to carrying that weight with speed, with power, and I think Marquez, when you saw him with Floyd Mayweather, he was slow. Marquez couldn’t counter Floyd and he couldn’t do anything. He’s going to try counter Pacquiao but Pacquiao’s speed and Pacquiao’s power, he’s used to being at welterweight, and I just don’t see Marquez being able to keep up. I think Pacquiao will drop him a couple times early, but Marquez is a warrior and he’s not going to quit. He’s going to have his opportunities but I think Pacquiao is going to be too big, too strong, too fast and I see a late stoppage for Pacquiao.”

Why boxing will survive after Pacquiao retires…
“We have a lot of stars in boxing. Pacquiao isn’t the only star in boxing. When you look at the pay-per-view numbers, Mayweather has done just as good as he has. But I think when Pacquiao does walk away from boxing, somebody else is going to rise up to the occasion. We’re going to still have somebody to get excited about. One man is not going to carry the sport by himself. It’s just the life we live in. It’s not meant for one person to carry anything. We have a lot of stars in boxing and people will get behind whoever they feel is next. Before Pacquiao it was De La Hoya, before De La Hoya it was someone, and before them it was someone else. Boxing is going to continue with or without Manny Pacquiao.”

[Reader's note: For a behind-the-scenes look at Manny Pacquiao's camp as he prepared for Marquez, please visit A closer look at Pacquiao's camp for Marquez ]

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]

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