By Michael Marley
You think the Donaire Clan has boxing's most searing Family Feud going on?
There's an ongoing, internecine war of actions, words and emotions which makes the divided Donaires, where world champ Nonito and wife Rachel are bitterly estranged from the fighter's mother and father, look like they're having a church social or a tea party.
Not too many fighters competing in a major fight know they will have a guaranteed "jeering section" in their adopted hometown but come April 16, when Vicious Victor Ortiz steps up in weight and class against unbeaten Andre Berto (27-0, 21 KOs), he has to know one packed household that will hoping he crashes and burns.
His former trainer, ex-junior lightweight champion Robert Garcia, has been estranged from his older brother Danny for over two years, dating back to when the mercurial Ortiz (28-2-2, 22 KOs) made the career decision to separate from Robert and also to abandon promoter Top Rank in favor of Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions.
(A source close to Lou DiBella revealed Wednesday that possible venues are Atlanta, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.)
Danny cast his lot with then hot prospect Ortiz, who had been brought to Oxnard, California, along with another poverty-stricken teeenaged boxer, both of them then residing in Garden City, Kansas. The other hand to mouth case was Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios, who just won a world lightweight title in a survival test against Miguel Acosta. Rios had to take his licks for several rounds before coming on late for a dramatic 10th round KO Saturday night in Las Vegas.
It's been well-chronicled how Rios used to idolize the slightly older and charismatic Ortiz, following him around the gym and elsewhere like a puppy dog, and their blood feud erupted since the Garcia Brothers split up. Rios has called Ortiz a gutless weasel and worse with Ortiz rarely returning the verbal fire.
What hasn't been gone into in depth is the devastating family fissure that has occurred in the extended Garcia clan since Danny and Ortiz went their way and Robert and Rios went theirs.
Garcia, who held the IBF 130 pound title until he ran into an express train named Chico Corrales, said Wednesday that when Ortiz infamously quit against rugged Argentine Marcos Maidana and then verbally spoke about his profession being too tough for him, there were only cheers around the TV set where he, his wife and four children, his father Eduardo and mother Virginia, and others Garcia were gathered.
"Victor won't beat Berto, although I give him a slight puncher's chance," Robert said by phone from Oxnard. "Berto's not easy to beat. Berto is in his prime. Same thing that happened against Maidana will happen again.
"Victor doesn't have the mentality of the warrior," Robert said. "All the badmouthing he's done, all the causing of a big feud among brothers and sisters in my family, it caught up to Victor.
"We'll watch like we watched Maidana. We had 30 people, my folks and all the kids...When Victor quit, we were all of us, including Mom and Dad, jumping up and down, celebrating.
"I don't like to bring this up but you asked me so...I don't want to wish anyone bad. Others fighters I've trained, like Joan Guzman, Rolando Reyes and Argenis Mendez, they left me, went with other people but they remain my nice friends. I saw that Mendez won a title eliminator in South Africa and I am happy for him.
"Victor won't win that fight just like he didn't win against Maidana," Robert said. "He talks like, 'If I win...'
"Victor talks about how I could always join the Army or go surfing. He's fight to a draw and say, 'Hey, whatever.'"