By Chris Robinson
This past Saturday night, the boxing world’s spotlight shined down on Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, as Showtime Championship Boxing offered up a memorable double header that won’t be soon forgotten.
In the evening’s main event, undeterred Josesito Lopez pulled off an upset in stopping former champion Victor Ortiz after nine rounds while the evening’s chief support saw Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse blast out Humberto Soto in the fifth round.
On the off-television undercard, trainer Robert Garcia led his fighter, undefeated welterweight prospect Michael Finney, to a four-round unanimous decision victory over Joel Vargas. Sticking around to see the evening’s televised bouts, Garcia seemed taken aback that the action was so brisk.
“It was a great fight,” said Garcia of the Ortiz-Lopez barnburner. “I was actually very surprised, because Golden Boy put on a really good show with two great TV fights. Soto-Matthysse, the five rounds that it lasted, it was looking like fight of the year type of fight. They were going back and forth. Then, in the main event, same thing, back and forth. Both fighters landing and both fighters getting hit. It was a great show.”
Garcia knows both fighters well, having trained Ortiz briefly when he was coming up while occasionally running into Lopez and his trainer Henry Ramirez at the II Feathers Gym in Riverside, the same locale where Robert's father Eduardo trains his younger brother and undefeated featherweight contender Mikey.
Garcia wasn’t sure if Lopez could pull off the upset but he surely wasn’t counting him out, either.
“I’m more friendly with his trainer Henry,” Garcia revealed. “We talk all the time and he talks to my Dad. We told him that it was not going to be easy. Of course, he was the underdog by a lot; very few really gave Josesito a chance, but knowing that he could take a good punch and has great heart, those are two very good qualities that you need to beat Ortiz. Jose took everything Victor landed and kept coming.”
The way the bout ended was dramatic and confusing, with Ortiz electing not to come out for the tenth round because of a broken jaw. The fight was similar to Ortiz’s June 2009 loss to Marcos Maidana, who Garcia now trains, a match that saw Ortiz elect not to push forward in the sixth round of a heated battle that included multiple knockdowns from both men.
Ortiz’s fortitude and courage has again been questioned in wake of the Lopez defeat yet Garcia doesn’t see this as the end of the line for the 25-year old.
“The fights that he’s giving, even the Maidana fight, the Josesito Lopez, they’ve both been great fights, very exciting,” Garcia claimed. “So yes, people are still going to want to watch him. He gives great fights. For some reason, everybody knows, as I’ve said it way before, now everybody sees the truth; that he does have problems and when the fights get tough he does have problems and he’ll find a way out. But he does give good fights. He can still come back.”
It’s well known within the boxing community that Robert doesn’t have the closest of relationships with his older brother Danny, who serves as Ortiz’s head trainer. In an interesting subplot to this weekend’s show at Staples, Garcia went on to inform me that the siblings crossed paths, but not in the fashion one might expect.
During Finney’s victory over Vargas, the Alabama-born fighter suffered a cut that had to require stitches afterwards. Garcia, Finney, and the rest of their team exited the ring to take care of the situation but soon found that they had to go through Ortiz’s dressing room to get to their final destination.
Danny Garcia and his team seemed to feel that Robert and his crew were looking to ruffle some feathers with their actions but he insists that simply wasn’t the case.
“I guess they thought we were there to start a fight or something,” stated Garcia. “That was never our intention. We were actually trying to get to the dressing room for our fighter to get stiches. We tried getting through and we had undercard credentials, it wasn’t for the main event, and they said we couldn’t go back. They thought we were there to start a fight but I never said anything to them. We actually chose to walk away. My brother got a little upset, his son was calling us out, but we just walked away.”
Smart move by brother Robert and maybe someday the Garcia family drama will be just an afterthought.
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