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Ismael Salas is the TSS 2022 Trainer of the Year

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  • Ismael Salas is the TSS 2022 Trainer of the Year

    Click image for larger version  Name:	salas ugas.PNG Views:	0 Size:	612.6 KB ID:	22436

    By Arne K. Lang

    The noted boxing trainer Ismael Salas has been on quite a ride since leaving his native Cuba in 1989. In the 30-plus years since he left Guantanamo, the former head coach of the Cuban National Team has roamed the globe, conducting seminars and staying long enough at some of his stops to craft world champions, both amateur and pro. Conversant in multiple languages, Salas – who developed six world title-holders and two Olympic gold medalists during his sojourn in Thailand -- now spends most of his time at his boxing gym in Las Vegas which we noticed had doubled in size since our previous visit, indicative of the fact that at age 65 and four years removed from a brief retirement, he is, one might say, at the top of his game.

    The year 2022 was a very good year for Ismael Salas. He was an easy pick for the TSS Trainer of the Year.

    Among his achievements, Salas scored his second win over the great Manny Pacquiao. Actually, it was his fighter Yordenis Ugas (pictured) who upended the Filipino legend, winning a unanimous decision at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Aug. 21. Veteran El Paso boxing scribe Matthew Aguilar called it, “perhaps the greatest triumph ever in Cuba’s [professional] boxing history.”

    This was the same Yordenis Ugas, then 35 years old, who was considered past his prime after losing back-to-back fights with prospects Emanuel Robles and Amir Imam in 2014, mishaps that prompted a 28-month break from the sport.

    Twenty-three years earlier, back in the previous century, Salas had worked the corner of flyweight Boonsai Sangsurat who stopped Pacquiao in the third round of a world title fight in Thailand.

    No less notable was Salas’s work with heavyweight behemoth Joe Joyce. Salas had worked with Joyce when Joyce came out of the amateur ranks, but for various reasons the two had drifted apart. They reunited before Joyce’s 2020 match with Daniel Dubois. Of the two, Dubois was the most highly-touted. But he had no antidote for Joyce’s robotic but unrelenting jab and surrendered in the 10th round with a badly-damaged left eye.

    Salas wasn’t in Joyce’s corner that night. He had contacted COVID and was forced to quarantine. But Ismael was there in more than just spirit, communicating with Joyce’s chief cornerman by phone between rounds.

    Salas was back in Joyce’s corner this past September when the aptly-nicknamed Juggernaut scored his most important victory, an 11th-round stoppage of former title-holder Joseph Parker. It positioned Joyce for a match with the winner of the unification fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. “With his heart, his chin, and his engine, no one can stop this guy,” said Salas who built heavyweight Felix Savon into a three-time Olympic gold medalist before leaving Cuba.

    This year, Salas had great success with Robeisy Ramirez, another former multi-Olympic-gold-medalist for Cuba. Ramirez stumbled out of the blocks after turning pro in 2019, suffering a shocking defeat to an obscure fighter from Denver. Enter Ismael Salas. In 2022, Ramirez made great strides, scoring three stoppages in scheduled 10-rounders to advance his record to 11-1. Ramirez, who turned 29 earlier this month, is currently ranked in the top six at 126 pounds by all four major sanctioning bodies.

    It wasn’t all gravy for Ismael Salas in 2022. After upsetting Manny Pacquiao, Yordenis Ugas failed in his bid to capture another welterweight title, losing to Errol Spence Jr. But Salas, who is also the longtime trainer of long-reigning WBO super flyweight champion Kazuto Ioka (who has a big fight coming up on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo against Joshua Franco) had quite a year, by our reckoning a year that set him apart from other candidates for this annual end-of-year honor.
    Last edited by AcidArne; 12-27-2022, 07:01 PM.