By Chris Robinson
Given the abundance of talent and high-profile fighters constantly around him, trainer Robert Garcia is often going to be seeing his name in the headlines.
Based out of Oxnard, California, Garcia is presently in Las Vegas, as he will be guiding his fighter, former lightweight champion Brandon Rios, into battle later tonight as he will be meeting up with brash Cuban Richard Abril at the Mandalay Bay. The bombastic Rios has gotten into a few heated altercations and a well-documented war of words with Abril amidst the lead up to their fight and Garcia has simply sat back and taken everything in with a smile on his face.
It was last month in Miami, Florida when Garcia was first introduced to Abril, as he could be seen getting in Rios’ face at a press conference that was initially requested by Yuriorkis Gamboa, the originally scheduled opponent for Rios on April 14th before his withdrawal from the contest.
Garcia seems amused by Abril's pre-fight bravado and can’t knock him for his effort in pursuing a fight with Rios.
“He did what he had to do to get this fight in Miami and that’s how it started,” stated Garcia. “For that, he did get the fight. We didn’t know who he was. I never heard of him before, until then, and it actually worked for him to come out and do what he did in Miami. Because he’s got the fight and he’s getting a title opportunity. Very few fighters can say they got a title opportunity.”
Garcia then added some of his humor to the situation.
“He’s going to one day tell his grandkids ‘I fought Brandon Rios. He knocked me out but I fought him’,” Garcia continued. “And hey, let’s do it. Twenty years from now, thirty years from now, he is going to say that. He’s not going to be ashamed of saying he got knocked out by Brandon Rios.”
The latest star to join Garcia’s camp appears to be Argentina’s Marcos Maidana, one of more crippling bangers in the sport. Maidana and his team felt a change was in order after his coach Rudy Perez became ill prior to his unanimous decision loss to Devon Alexander on February 25th.
Garcia revealed that he was actually working with Rios upon getting word of Team Maidana’s interest in his services.
“I talked to his manager Sebastian and he called me when I wrapping Brandon’s hands,” said Garcia. “I was talking to him in front of Brandon and when I mentioned Maidana training with us, I looked at Brandon, of course. Because I’m not going to do something without letting my team know. I tell all my team before I make a decision, but just right away, Brandon’s like ‘Bring his ass over here’.”
Rios had expressed interest in a Maidana fight in the past but Garcia was quick to point out that ongoing promotional feud between Top Rank, who promote Rios, and Golden Boy Promotions, who work with Maidana, would have never allowed the fight to come off anyways.
“That’s one thing Brandon loves to do is get great fights and he knows a Maidana fight would have been great but that’s never going to happen because of Golden Boy and Top Rank,” stated Garcia. “We have [manager] Cameron Dunkin and Bob Arum who have other plans for Brandon and I’m sure Maidana’s not in the plans. Same thing for Maidana, he’s got a great promoter in Golden Boy and I’m sure he’s got a great management team and I’m sure Brandon Rios is not in their plans. Why not do it in the gym? It will help both of them.”
Lately there has been talk of a ring return on June 2nd for former welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, who Garcia has worked with for his last three fights. Margarito was last seen losing his rematch to Miguel Cotto inside of Madison Square Garden this past December, as the Tijuana fighter’s surgically-repaired right eye was so severely damaged that he wasn’t allowed to come out for the eleventh round.
Garcia ran into Margarito a few weeks back at a show in Tucson, Arizona and while he didn’t press him for any kind of information regarding his career, he says he would love to see the ‘Tijuana Tornado’ back in his gym in due time.
“We talked, just like friends,” said Garcia of his conversation with Margarito. “I didn’t ask him when we were going to start training. I had no questions for him, because that’s his decision. If he comes to Oxnard, we love Margarito and he’s been a great partner and teammate with everybody else and everybody loves him. But if we decides to train somewhere else, I also respect his decision and I’ll definitely be supporting him anyways.”
Garcia was in San Antonio, Texas on the night of March 31st when come-backing former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik ran threw overmatched Aaron Jaco in two rounds. It was Pavlik’s first fight in nearly eleven months and his first camp training out of Oxnard and Garcia was happy with the outcome.
“I was very, very pleased,” Garcia confirmed. “It was unbelievable. He did a great job and he did everything he was told in the gym and it showed the day of the fight. We are going to start training after Brandon’s fight, because he’s coming back for June 8th. He’ll be looking ever better. I know the opponent will be a little bit different but he did what he had to do against his opponent his last fight and he looked great. He used his left hand the way we practiced and it showed in the fight.”
No plans yet on whether Pavlik will pursue a return to 160 plans or push forward with his career as a super middleweight but Garcia it overly-optimistic either way.
Bonus HBO April 14th PPV Slideshow Coverage (Rios, Gesta, Marquez, Alvarado, Garcia, Abril and others)