The best advice that Robert Garcia can offer his clients for now, is simply to stay ready so that they don’t have to get ready.
The former junior lightweight champion and current A-list trainer is doing his part to keep his vast stable up to date as the boxing schedule has been decimated in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Among his current roster, just one boxer remains in training camp—unbeaten, unified junior welterweight titlist Jose Carlos Ramirez, who for now is still slated to face Viktor Postol on May 9 in Fresno, California.
As for the rest…
“Right now, the fighters are frustrated,” Garcia noted to BoxingScene.com. “They want to know what’s going on. There’s nothing. That’s all I can say. I’m not happy about it, but it’s happening to everybody.”
The stateside fallout began in mid-March, with a pair of Top Rank shows due to take place in New York City pulled from the schedule and postponed for yet-to-be-announced dates. Among them was a March 28 DAZN show to have been headlined by Vergil Ortiz, an unbeaten welterweight and the 2019 Prospect of the Year.
Golden Boy Promotions, Ortiz’s promoter was forced to cancel the show—which was stream live from The Forum in Inglewood, California—when the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) declared that all in-state shows for March would be shut down as part of a statewide lockdown. With no fight to train for, the logical move was to get Ortiz (15-0, 15KOs) home from Garcia’s training complex in Riverside, California to the greater Dallas area before it was no longer safe or efficient to travel.
“We sent him home right away,” Garcia notes, although still remaining in contact with the rising prospect-turned-contender. “I’m not worried about him coming back ready. He’s one of those kids who always finds a way to work out. Obviously, the gyms are closed, but he’s doing things around his house, finding ways to train and do road work. He doesn’t waste days or time. I’m never worried about him.”
The one worry right now is whether Ramirez’s bout will see the light of day. The Central California-bred champ is already training for a rescheduled date, as his mandatory title defense versus Postol was originally due to take place February 1 in China, but instead became the first COVID-19 casualty as the pandemic was still rampant in nation. With the rescheduled date came a return to training camp, only to now have to embrace for the reality of another postponement and essentially a third round of preparation for the same fight.
“He’s here in the gym, preparing away from home and not really having that option to leave until we’re told that the fight’s not happening,” acknowledges Garcia. “No matter what, he’s always going to train just as hard and stay ready, even if it’s to be ready for a fight that takes place another month or two later. He’s fine with whatever happens and will do whatever it takes.
“Jose is one of the guys who doesn’t gain a lot of weight. He comes in maybe 12 pounds overweight. It doesn’t affect him. He does the normal weight cut the last two weeks. He doesn’t have (an issue with making weight), he’ll be fine.”
Garcia’s younger brother and star client, Mikey Garcia is one of the few notable boxers to have managed a fight thus far in 2020. The former four-division champ managed a 12-round win over former two-division titlist Jessie Vargas this past February, keeping alive his dream of a welterweight superfight at some point this year.
Whenever that day comes is anybody’s guess given the overwhelming backlog. All that he can do for now is sit and wait, as well as be there for those who’ve always been there for him.
“Mikey is always thinking about his future, but right now he’s more concentrated on everyone’s well-being today,” points out Garcia. “Last week, he reached out to everyone in the family, stopping by everybody’s house with big boxes of food. He had a hookup with a food supply, so he went house to house, dropping off meat, eggs and necessary products.
“As for boxing, we’re always going to be working on his future fights. For now, he’s home and doing the same as the rest of us. I told him the same as I told everyone else. Just stay safe, keep your distance and let’s hope this goes away soon. We’re all doing our part, we just have to stick together (figuratively) in doing the right thing and in a few weeks we’ll all get the phone call saying it’s back to work. We have to be ready.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox