Robert Garcia Talks Margarito, Rios, Ortiz, Donaire, More

By Chris Robinson

As is always the case, trainer Robert Garcia currently has a lot on his plate. Working closely with such notables as WBA lightweight champion Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios, bantamweight king Nonito Donaire, former welterweight boss Antonio Margarito, and featherweight contender and younger brother Mikey Garcia, the man nicknamed ‘Grandpa’ will surely be seeing an eventful finish to his 2011 campaign with each man having a fight scheduled in the coming months.

Margarito is moving ahead with a December 3rd rematch with WBA junior middleweight champion Miguel Cotto, set to take place inside of Madison Square Garden. Cotto initially wanted the fight to be held at a catch-weight of a 150 pounds, four below the junior middleweight limit, but the fight has been agreed up at 153 pounds and will give Margarito a second chance to defeat Cotto, who he hammered via 11th round TKO in Las Vegas in July of 2008.
Donaire had been inactive following his February blowout over Fernando Montiel inside of the Mandalay Bay but is now scheduled to defend his WBC and WBO bantamweight titles against super flyweight champion Omar Narvaez on October 22nd in New York. Garcia usually handles business at the Oxnard Boxing Academy in Southern California and will once again be dividing his time in the Bay Area, as Donaire is currently in training at the Undisputed Boxing Gym in San Carlos.
For the past year Rios has been establishing himself as one of the sport’s hottest names and is coming off of an electric 3rd round TKO over Urbano Antillon a few months back in the first defense of his title. Garcia considers Rios like a brother and they are tentatively eyeing a November return underneath the trilogy bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Garcia also has a history with WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz, who is relishing his underdog role at the moment heading into his September 17th showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Garcia worked with Ortiz during his amateur days before his pupil parted ways and teamed up with Robert’s brother Danny, and he has a strong opinion about Ortiz’s chances a few weekends from now.
During a brief visit to Garcia’s gym, I touched on several topics with him, including the road ahead for his stable of fighters, why he felt Team Cotto was trying to make Margarito weigh in at 150 pounds, why Mayweather could be in trouble against Ortiz, his slight disinterest towards a fight between Donaire and Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa, and much more.
In his own words, this is what Garcia had to say…

Team Cotto’s motives behind the proposed 150-pound catch weight…
“It’s just camps trying to take advantage of a couple pounds and whether it’s going to work to their advantage. We’ve seen it a few times with Manny Pacquiao; he tries to get opponents to drain as much as he can. Cotto tried to do the same to Margarito but eventually they ended up agreeing to fight at 153, which is no problem with Margarito. If it would have been 150, it would have been a different story, because the last two or three pounds are going to be the hardest. But mostly things should be alright and there isn’t going to be any limits to the day after, because they wanted to put a limit, like [Margarito] couldn’t gain more than ten pounds. But it looks like that’s not going to be an issue there so we are going to be good. We’ll have the fight at 153 and come into the fight twelve to fifteen pounds higher.”
Is Miguel Cotto nervous heading into the rematch?
“You know what? People might say that they are a little bit nervous, because Margarito might be too big, but he can’t be scared. He’s a boxer, he’s been in there with the best in the world and you can’t say he’s a scared fighter. Cotto is a warrior, he’s a great champion, and he’s always proven that he’s one of the best out there, so it’s probably just business and they are trying to take as much advantage as they can. It’s just part of the sport. They see other fighters doing it, so why can’t they?”
The danger of Victor Ortiz come September 17th…
“He does have a chance, of course. One thing that I’ve never denied is the way Victor trains. Victor trains very hard. The years that I had him, since he was a kid, a sixteen year old, he was always the hardest kid running in the morning, the hardest kid training in the gym. And then, as a pro, he trains even harder. He is always in great shape and he does have a chance. He hits very hard. Mayweather has been hurt a couple times in his career, so I think if Victor hurts him and takes advantage of it, he could finish him off. But Mayweather is just so talented and so good that it’s going to be hard for Victor to even catch him. But if he does, he does have a chance.”
Whether Floyd’s age and inactivity may hinder him…
“I don’t think so, because Mayweather’s an athlete. I know that he’s been off for sixteen months but he’s on weight already. So that tells you that even though he’s been off, he doesn’t blow up, he’s probably walking around five or six pounds overweight. He takes care of his body, he’s always running, and I’m sure he’s always in the gym. Even though he doesn’t plan on fighting, he’s always in the gym and always takes care of himself. I don’t know if he drinks or parties a lot, but he doesn’t look like he does. And at 34, he’s still a young man. We’ve seen fighters like Bernard Hopkins, he’s 46, and he’ll beat any 22, 23-year old out there because of the way he’s taking care of his body and his health. So Mayweather can do the same thing.” 
Brandon ‘Bam Bam’ Rios back in camp…
“It’s always fun. It’s always fun training with Brandon. Brandon always has a fun training camp, from starting off with day one to the last day, it’s always very fun. But we always try to do that with all of my fighters. If it’s Margarito or my younger guys coming up, we always have fun. I think it’s a great way to do camps so that it doesn’t get too boring or too tiring. They’re excited to come back to the gym the next day because they are going to be around friends and people that love them.”

Reliving Rios’ electric fight with Antillon…
“It was unbelievable. Just knowing at the press conference what Brandon said and what Antillon said. Brandon was so sure of himself and told him at the press conference ‘I guarantee you this will be your last fight for a title and I keep my promises’. And the way Brandon ended it, it might be true. I know Brandon’s not acting, he’s for real and he’s a warrior. He’ll do the same against anybody in the ring. And I’m not saying he’s going to be undefeated for the rest of his life but he will give his best out there and win or lose, people are still going to love him.”
Dividing time between the Bay Area and Oxnard…
“I got Brandon here with me and if he doesn’t go up there with me, what I’m going to do is I’m going to be going back and forth. I will be up there for three days a week, four days, and be here for the other two or three. Just like I did last time, when Brandon and Nonito both fought in February. Nonito fought on the 19th and Brandon fought on the 26th, in the same month. So I was going back and forth. The good thing is I have good people here to do what I tell them to do when I’m gone and same thing over there with Nonito. He’s got Jonathan Penalosa, he’s got his wife, he’s got everybody out there in camp that know what they are doing. I really don’t worry about that. It was hard for me to be driving back and forth but we did a great job with both of them. We had a great time.”
Musing on Nonito Donaire vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa…
“Donaire against Gamboa? You know what? I think those would be great fights, fights people would love to see, but Donaire is still a 118-pounder. It’s like talking about Mikey [Garcia] fighting a lightweight right now. They are too far apart. It probably will happen, if it ever happens it probably wouldn’t even be next year. Nonito still has to defend his title, then move up to 122, and eventually 126. Who knows, maybe Gamboa wouldn’t even be at 126 anymore.”
Not overlooking brother Mikey…
“I would like to see,  maybe before Nonito, maybe my brother fight somebody like Gamboa. My brother is already at that weight division. My brother is ready for any fighter at 126. So I think maybe we’ll try to see that fight first. We’ll be ready for it if it ever happens.”
Mikey’s training regimen…
“He trains in Riverside at the Chris Arreola Gym, that’s where they train. Once we get exactly the date and opponent, then what I have done is, I have taken sparring partners and we travel there for sparring two or three times a week. And that’s when I help my Dad with mitts and training my brother. But most of the time my brother is with my Dad every day.”

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Slyboots on 09-10-2011

I'm a fan of Garcia, he seems like a really good guy. It's just a shame that he harbors a cheating piece of crap like Marg, but I guess someone had to give him a second chance.

Comment by savorduhflavor on 09-10-2011

Robert Garcia is the man. He's such a legit dude, doesn't feel the need to talk sh!t, just tells it like it is. I've always liked him, and interviews like this just reinforce it. He's articulate, doesn't dodge questions and…

Comment by lillu89 on 09-10-2011

War Team Garcia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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