Robert Garcia Talks Donaire, Agbeko-Mares, More

By Chris Robinson

On August 13th, trainer Robert Garcia had a vested interest in the bantamweight title showdown between former champion Joseph ‘King Kong’ Agbeko and newly-crowned IBF champion Abner Mares. In front of a raucous crowd inside of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mares pulled out a majority decision verdict over his rugged foe from Ghana but the fight wasn’t without its controversy.

Two of the scorecards read 115-111 in favor of Mares, with the other tabbed at 113-113, but there were certain developments in the fight that very easily could have and should have gone the other way. Mares, despite his gallant and gutsy effort, repeatedly landed low blows on Agbeko throughout the contest and the knockdowns he scored in rounds one and eleven didn’t appear to be legitimate, as the first didn’t appear to be from a punch while the latter saw him land a right hand that was right on Agbeko’s cup. 
While the defeat was obviously a bitter pill for Agbeko to swallow, Garcia was happy to hear that the IBF has issued an immediate rematch between the two men as it will hopefully give everyone connected to the first bout some clarity. Amongst his bevy of talented fighters, Garcia works closely with WBC and WBO bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, thought by many to be the ideal opponent for the winner of the Mares-Agbeko bout, but he is unsure of whether or not Donaire will be available when the second fight is over with.
Donaire is set to defend his titles on October 22nd in Carson, California but it has been widely-reported that he will soon be eyeing a move up to the junior featherweight division. Whether or not he will be competing at 118 pounds by the time Agbeko and Mares settle their situation remains to be seen but Garcia had plenty to say on the matter.
Continue reading below for Garcia’s thoughts on the controversy that stemmed from the Mares-Agbeko fight, how Abner can prove his doubters wrong in the rematch, why he favors Donaire over both men, and more…
Rooting for Abner Mares…
“Like I said before, watching the fight and knowing Abner Mares here in Southern California, actually knowing who he is, he’s a nice kid. I know his manager real good, I know his trainer real good, and of course I was cheering for him and hoping that he was going to win his first title. I knew it was Golden Boy’s first champion that they set up so I was definitely cheering for him.”
How Mares’ low blows impacted the fight…

“Towards the end, all those low blows that kind of made people, everybody at my house, start cheering the other way. People were cheering for Agbeko. After the fight I really thought to myself and I felt that the best thing Abner could say right now or at the press conference was that he doesn’t want to fight nobody else except Agbeko. That way he could prove to everybody that he could beat him, because he actually can beat him without needing the help of the ref and just what everybody has seen. There were just too many low blows. The ref never did anything about it and that one that he called the knockdown towards the end of the round was totally wrong, I believe. I also think that the first knockdown wasn’t a knockdown. If you look at it, Agbeko was already on his way down when Abner barely tapped him and the ref called it a knockdown.”
Whether or not it will affect Mares by having a different referee in the rematch…
“I don’t think it should. He’s a professional and he’s been in the ring many times. The only thing that might happen, whoever they appoint as the ref, he is going to be very aware of low blows. Any kind of foul and any little thing he might look at and be quick to take a point away. Knowing what happened the first time, the ref is going to be very, very careful and might take points off right away. So Abner has to be very careful.”
Proving everybody wrong…
“Abner is a great fighter and I know it was a good experience for him to go through that. I know he mentioned that he has been getting a lot of messages or tweets from people who are talking bad about him. That should give him more power and it should set his mind to prove everybody wrong and do it better. I know he can.”
Thoughts on Nonito Donaire against the Mares-Agbeko winner…
”You know what? Nonito is going to return on October 22nd and I’m not 100% sure on who it is. I’ve heard a few names and they mentioned one opponent but I’m still not sure. I think 122 is going to be his best weight division. I think he will come up and take over 122. Eventually, within time, he’ll move up to featherweight. If they fight by December, Mares and Agbeko, and they work something out, Golden Boy and Top Rank, then we can definitely do it the first part of next year. I know that Nonito’s skills and power and speed is just unbelievable. I truly believe that either one of him, if he took on Agbeko or Mares, Nonito should have no problem.”
Rumors that his brother and featherweight contender Mikey Garcia will be fighting on Donaire’s undercard…
“That is correct. Right now, nothing is confirmed, we don’t have any opponents or a contract yet. Until I have a contract in my hand I can’t say it’s a done deal. It would be a great card to be on, especially one of your teammates and fighting on the same card, backing each other up. It will be an honor to be on the undercard. It’s just unbelievable to be considered up at that level.”

Dividing time training his brother in Oxnard and Donaire in San Carlos, California if they both fight on October 22nd.
“I did that with Nonito and Brandon Rios when Brandon fought for the title on February 26th. Nonito fought a week before against Montiel and I was doing that. I was driving up north once a week, for two days and sometimes for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Then I would drive back Saturday to train Brandon on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It was hard but I have great help from my people here in Oxnard. When I was down I had my people with Brandon and when I was up in the Bay area we had Jonathan [Penalosa] and everybody else in Nonito’s camp did a great job. It turned out good, we had great results, and there is nothing to worry about.”

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. An archive of his work can be found here, and he can be reached at [email protected]
User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by komandante on 08-19-2011

Darchinyan doesn't want to fight, he priced himself out. Moreno is the best option for a big money fight. Arce v Donaire easy to make:boxing:

Comment by newcastleking on 08-19-2011

mikey garcia is my favorite featherweight right now, i know he will be the one to dethrone gamboa. i would love to see him in there with broner so he can expose broner.

Comment by Hindsight 20/10 on 08-19-2011

Hopefully it won't be Narvaez, b/c he really is too small for Donaire. Hopefully it will be at least someone in the 118lbs division. Hopefully Arum will do his job and get Darchinyan for the rematch.

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