By Ryan Maquiñana
Celebrated cornerman Robert Garcia has had a 2011 to remember.
With both Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios in the running for Fighter of the Year, and Garcia himself a frontrunner for Trainer of the Year, he has evolved from former world champion to one of the elite minds and motivators in the sport.
Garcia recently spoke to BoxingScene.com following a long drive from Oxnard, Calif., to Las Vegas, where he will work with Donaire ahead of the Filipino’s Feb. 4 WBO junior featherweight title clash with Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
ON HIS CHRISTMAS WEEKEND:
“I had a great time this weekend. My sisters came over, my parents were there, we sang songs, [and] I watched some TV with my brother Mikey. Everything’s great when you have family around you.”
ON WHETHER NONITO DONAIRE WILL HOLD CAMP IN THE BAY AREA OR LAS VEGAS:
“I am on my way to the gym right now. As I understand it, Nonito’s going to hold camp here in Las Vegas at the Top Rank Gym, but I’ll let you know if the plans change.”
ON DONAIRE’S SPARRING PARTNERS:
“I’ve brought [lightweight] Javier ‘Pelos’ Garcia and a Russian [featherweight], Evgeny [Gradovich]. Before we would use guys at the same weight class as Nonito, but he takes their shots so well. I think he should get used to bigger guys hitting him, so he’ll be sparring them for now.”
ON WHAT TYPE OF WEAKNESSES GARCIA VIEWED IN WILFREDO VAZQUEZ JR. AFTER HIS EXCITING LOSS TO JORGE ARCE:
“I’ve watched a couple fights, like the one with Arce, but you have to take it for what it is, which was a fun fight for the fans. We’re working on a gameplan to prepare for the best Vazquez that will show up, because that’s what we expect.”
ON WHETHER BRANDON RIOS WILL CONTINUE TO CAMPAIGN AT LIGHTWEIGHT:
“We are going to try to make 135 pounds one more time, but do it with a nutritionist’s help to make sure he’s eating right and doing the right things to make weight. If we already tell he can’t do it, then yeah, we’ll move up to 140.”
ON WHETHER TEAM RIOS WILL HIRE VICTOR CONTE, WHO IS CURRENTLY WORKING WITH DONAIRE:
“After Brandon had problems making the weight the last fight [against John Murray], Victor Conte gave us advice on what to eat and when to eat that night. The next day, Brandon felt strong, so we definitely appreciated the advice. I know [Rios and Donaire’s manager] Cameron Dunkin has talked about working with [Conte], so we’ll definitely take it into consideration for the next camp.”
ON WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO WIN THE TRAINER OF THE YEAR AWARD FROM THE BOXING WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA:
“I just enjoy what I do. It would be nice to get that recognition, but it’s not something that makes me. It would definitely be nice to be recognized by the writers. It just feels good to see my fighters all work hard for me, and you know what, the awards will take care of themselves.”
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.