By Michael Marley
Brother Danny Garcia, on the eve of his most important fight as trainer with Vicious Victor Ortiz challenging unbeaten WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto Saturday night on HBO, used my column on Wednesday night to extend an olive branch to his estranged brother and highly-regarded trainer Robert.
Then Robert, who took off Thursday from Oxnard to go see his buddy Juan Manuel Lopez fight in Puerto Rico, took the branch and broke it in half.
Danny, while having some harsh words for both his former IBF junior lightweight champion brother and Robert's latest world champ and Ortiz former pal turned bitter enemy Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios, clearly wanted to give fraternal peace a chance.
Not only did Robert say that the estrangment runs too deep to mend, at least right now, he also took a verbal shot at Ortiz's ring courage.
"Victor, he's got a puncher's chance but Berto is a good, solid world champion. If Victor doesn't quit, quit like he did against (Marcos) Maidana and several times in the amateurs when he dropped his hands anf gave up...well, then he has that puncher's chance. We'll see which Victor shows up. Will it be the Victor who gave up in those fights?"
Robert said the emotional scars of the break between he and Danny, who helped family patriarch Eduardo (now age 67) train Robert when he held the IBF 130 pound crown, go way below the surface and the continual namecalling between Team Rios and Team Ortiz.
"I don't know why they (Ortiz and Danny) want to blame Brandon for the feud because he's got nothing to do with this," Robert said. "This is not just about Victor leaving me and Danny going with him. It's a lot of personal stuff that's been said and been done.
"It's ugly, real ugly and it's not just about the two fighters here. I've got four sisters and three brothers and the others don't speak with Danny, either. If Danny had just come to me and said he wanted to try to make some money with Victor, I'd have said, 'Hey, good luck.'
"But Victor just ran out. I got letters from attorneys saying I stole money, that I stole $50,000 from the kid...how could that happen? I'm only a trainer, I only get paid out of what the fighter makes. That's when Victor went to bankruptcy court, all that crap," Robert said.
Robert corrected me for reporting that Danny's day job is driving a Pepsi truck, he actually drives for rival Coca Cola. And, Robert said, their parents leaving Oxnard to move to Riverside was not related to their brotherly bickering.
"My Mom and my Dad wanted to retire. My Dad was able get $500,000 cash for his house in Oxnard and he moved to Riverside where he bought five $100,000 houses. They live in one and rent out four. My Dad couldn't live in Oxnard on $1,100 from Social Security. My Dad had worked in the fields, picking fruit. He's got no pension or benefits. Their move was a lifestyle choice."
While Robert said it's true that neither he nor Rios will be "rooting" for Ortiz, he does have respect for Danny's boxing knowledge, going back to their father's amazing amateur teams (Fernando Vargas was also trained by Eduardo from Day One) at La Colonia Gym.
"Danny knows boxing," Robert said. "He helped us at La Colonia. Danny makes his fighters work hard, he gets them into good condition.
"Once, I was sparring with Robbie Peden and my Dad wanted me to slug with him. Danny told me not to listen to my Dad. I followed Danny's advice, I boxed the guy and it worked."
Robert has gained positive acclaim for his work with Filipino Flash Nonito Donaire Jr. and now said he may take on more Pinoy fighters.
"You know Michael Alduguer from Ala Boxing, he came over to see me," Robert said. "We had a good talk and I may work with some of his guys."
One fight Robert is shying away from is the Donaire promotional contract battle between Top Rank (which handles Rios) and Golden Boy.
"I'll let them all work that out," Robert said. "I've been very happy working with Top Rank but I can work with Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy also. It's no problem, I go way back to the amateurs with Oscar."
So the acrimony between Danny and Robert continues.
Maybe down the line they will work it all out.
Last time I checked, fighters come and go but siblings are siblings for life. Ditto for mothers and fathers and their children.
Personally, as Robert's former co-manager and a pal of all the Garcias, I hope they bridge the gap.
Forgive and forget, that would make Mom and Pop Garcia happy.