By Lem Satterfield
Corner man Robert Garcia is training five fighters in as many championship bouts spanning 49 days from January 26-through-March 16, with three of them being underdog challengers.
On January 26, Josesito Lopez (36-7-1, 19 KOs) takes on WBA “super” welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, as Premiere Boxing Champions returns to FOX (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT.).
Garcia has three dates in February. He will work back-to-back on the ninth and 10th -- first in Carson, California, and, then, in Fresno, California. His third date is February 16 in Los Angeles.
In Carson, three-division champion Abner Mares (31-1-1, 15 KOs) rises from 126 for his 130-pound debut against left-handed WBA “super” junior featherweight Gervonta Davis (20-0, 19 KOs) live on Showtime from The StufHub Center, and, in Fresno, Jose Ramirez (23-0, 16 KOs) defends his WBA 140-pound title against southpaw Jose Zepada (30-1, 25 KOs) at The Save Mart Arena.
On February 16 in Los Angeles, Garcia said IBF 105-pound titleholder Carlos Licona (14-0, 2 KOs) meets an opponent to be determined on the undercard of a WBA “super” featherweight title defense by three-division champion Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) against Miguel Flores (23-2, 11 KOs) on FOX (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
Finally, on March 16 at The Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Garcia’s brother, Mikey (39-0, 30 KOs) makes his 147-pound debut chasing his fifth crown in as many divisions against IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) near Spence’s home in DeSoto, Texas.
“I'm training all five, but I wont make it to Josesito Lopez fight because that’s the same day of my daughter’s sweet 15, so my assistant, Jose Angel Contreras, and Dr. Roger Anderson will work Josesito’s corner,” said Robert Garcia.
“We asked if we could get another date for the fight, but they told us we had to take the fight that day or else we would loose it. So we decided to take it even though I won’t be in his corner. I’m driving from Fresno [3 ½ hours] to Ramirez’s fight after the Mares fight.”
Robert Garcia is confident of victories for Lopez, Mares and Mikey Garcia.
“Josesito Lopez is stronger than ever and has a great chance because people don’t know what we’ve seen in the gym," said Garcia. "Yesterday [December 21] my son called me and told me, ‘Dad, you’re gonna have to get more sparring partners because Josesito hurt one of them real bad and he had to go to the hospital.’ I know people are counting him out, but I think Josesito's chances are very, very big. I think he’ll be my next world champion.”
Among Mares’ sparring partners are southpaws Ruben Villa (14-0, 5 KOs) and Isidro Ochoa (6-0, 2 KOs), with Mikey Garcia using 2012 Brazilian Olympic silver medalist Esquiva Falcao (22-0, 15 KOs) and Alexis Rocha (12-0, 8KOs).
“All three are very difficult fights against very physical opponents," said Robert Garcia. "All three are the underdogs, but believe me and don’t be surprised if all three pull the wins off."