By Michael Marley
Pre-fight fussing and feuding with his own brother and his ex-fighter "Vicious" Victor Ortiz aside, trainer Robert Garcia is taking the high road in the wake of his former pupil's smashing, upset victory over previously unbeaten WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto.
Robert, whose older brother Danny charted the fight plan for the much maligned Ortiz, was at ringside in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, for another ring shocker Saturday night as also unbeaten Juan Manuel Lopez got shellacked by Mexico's oft-beaten (11 losses) Orlando Salido.
"So I did not see it live," Robert said Wednesday night by phone from Oxnard. "But we can't make excuses now, we can't say what Berto did not do. Yes, Berto gave up a little in the fight but it was Victor who made him do that.
"Honestly, when I heard the result...I was happy because of my brother. I was happy for him. Our problems weren't with my brother but over Victor, it was personal with Victor.
"My brother, he's a hard worker who gets up to drive a Coca Cola truck at 5 a.m. My brother did a good job, a very good job and Victor obviously trained very hard. Victor's always had the ability. I've know that since he was age 16 and I brought him out here from (Garden City) Kansas," Robert said.
"Victor had flaws, a lot of flaws, that showed up in sparring and in some fights, particularly the (Marcos) Maidana fight but Victor has always has the talent. That's never been in question."
Robert added that his lightweight champion and former Ortiz pal from Garden City, Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios also conceded that Ortiz gave a great performance against the heavily favored Berto.
(Speculation continues that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was at ringside at Foxwoods with a Berto-Mayweather match in mind. Ortiz did not follow that script.)
Robert said he was impressed how the 24 year old Ortiz took a licking, including two knockdowns,. and fought his way through it all.
"Sure, I was because Victor got up after taking some hard, real hard punches. Those kind of knockdowns often finish a guy off but he got up and came back fighting hard."
Robert had gone to PR to watch JuanMa in what many thought would be easy work.
"I think JuanMa expected something easy, in his hometown an against a guy with 11 losses. He was slow, he had no legs in the fight and he had those personal (divorce) problems," Robert said. "Some fighters can put personal issues--problems with the wife, with a manager or a promoter--aside in the gym and in the ring and some can't. It does affect most fighters, those issues."
Vicious Victor Ortiz "repped" neighboring Ventura, not Oxnard, in his victory over Berto.
But some people in Oxnard still rooted for Vicious Victor.
"I rooted against Victor, not for Berto and not against my own brother," Robert said. "But it was a great performance."