By Chris Robinson
When it comes to trainers in the sport of boxing, you will be hard pressed to find a coach surrounded by as much talent as Robert Garcia.
All one has to do is become familiar with Garcia’s gym in Oxnard, California to understand that he is around not only high-level prizefighters, such as guys like former champion Brandon Rios, but also budding amateur and professional prospects in several divisions.
Of everyone is his stable, Garcia seems to recognize that it is likely Fil-Am star Nonito Donaire who stands on a different level in terms of his natural abilities. This past weekend in Carson, Garcia was ringside as Donaire produced another dominant victory, halting proud former champion Toshiaki Nishioka within nine one-sided rounds in an HBO-televised attraction.
Catching up with the 2011 Trainer of the Year shortly after the fight on Saturday night, Garcia was asked about his fighter’s performance but instead spoke of Donaire’s current standing in today’s boxing landscape.
“Pound for pound, Nonito’s one of the best, if not the best,” Garcia stated. “I honestly believe, Nonito’s talent is over so many fighters out there. It’s just that he hasn’t [gotten] those big names, he’s not a welterweight fighting in seven different weight divisions. We’ve got to be real.”
Elaborating further, it became obvious that Garcia was comparing Donaire to pound for pound superstars Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
“And those guys, they deserve to have those top spots, one and two, because they’ve dominated and they’ve moved up four or five different weight divisions and won titles, so they deserve the spot,” said Garcia. “But I think if we talk about talent, Nonito might be the best of them all.”
There is a bevy of worthy opponents in the junior featherweight division where Donaire currently resides. Garcia can’t predict who will be next for the 29-year old Donaire but has no doubt about Nonito’s willingness to take on all comers.
“Anybody,” Garcia replied. “Nonito fights the best. He chose Nishioka because, not only Nonito, but I thought Nishioka was the best [junior] featherweight in the world. We picked him and look at what we did to him. So, now it’s all up to Cameron [Dunkin] and Top Rank.”
At this point in the conversation, my colleague Ryan Burton of BoxingScene.com jumped in and asked Garcia is he would prefer a match with WBA champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, simply so he could silence the two-time Cuban gold medalist from the trash talk he has been spewing over the past year in regards to a fight with Donaire.
“Look, I have no doubt that Nonito would beat Rigondeaux, it could even be an easy fight,” Garcia pointed out. “Rigondeaux hasn’t been on this level. He’s looking good and believe me, he’s very talented, but he can’t win this spot by beating somebody like [Robert] Marroquin. I think he’s got to get big names like Nonito’s been doing.”
It’s obvious that Garcia would prefer to make Rigondeaux test himself against stiffer competition before looking at him as a serious option.
“Let’s wait for him to prove himself a little bit more,” Garcia added. “We’re not going to please him just because he’s talking smack. We’ve got to go out and make him wait a little bit longer.”