Legendary trainer Robert Garcia joins HBO Boxing Insiders Eric Raskin and Kieran Mulvaney on the podcast to discuss his fighter Brandon Rios' upcoming bout with Mike Alvarado, how he transitioned from a fighter to a trainer, and his rivalry with Freddie Roach.
HBO Boxing's Kieran Mulvaney goes one on one with Mikey Garcia and Robert Garcia ahead of Saturday's 9:45pm ET/PT fight against Juan Carlos Burgos:
Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland
With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, HBO Trainer of the Year.
Kieran Mulvaney: Javan "Sugar" Hill
Abel Sanchez has overseen the emerging superstardom of Gennady Golovkin, but as effective as he has been in molding his charge into the fan-friendly fighter we see today, the raw material with which he had to work was of the highest quality. Adonis Stevenson, on the other hand, was more of a diamond in the rough. The great Emanuel Steward barely had time to begin polishing that diamond before his untimely passing; Hill, Steward's nephew, has taken over the work his uncle started and has helped create a versatile and fan-friendly star in the making.
Eric Raskin: Javan "Sugar" Hill
In a year in which the most recognizable trainers with deep stables—Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia, Virgil Hunter—had too many ups and downs to keep track of, Hill is my pick because of what Adonis Stevenson achieved. Also, by picking Hill, I'm giving a bit of a posthumous award to the best trainer of recent decades, Emanuel Steward, who worked with Stevenson and Hill prior to his untimely passing in 2012.
Nat Gottlieb: Robert Garcia.
He's the hottest young trainer in the business, and he had a great year. Among the A-list of fighters he worked with this year were Nonito Donaire, Evgeny Gradovich, Brandon Rios, and his own younger brother, Mikey.
Tim Smith: Javan "Sugar'' Hill
The trainer for Adonis Stevenson set himself apart in 2013. Hill, the nephew of the late Emanuel Steward, took over training Stevenson after Steward passed away. Hill built on the foundation that Steward established and has set Stevenson on a path for greatness.
Hamilton Nolan: Abel Sanchez
There are plenty of good trainers and plenty of good fighters. But since no trainer this year can really claim two fighters who had incredible years, I have to go with the trainer whose one fighter--Golovkin--had the most incredible year. Sanchez is relaxed, cerebral, and knows what he's doing. Golovkin is lucky to have him.
Michael Gluckstadt: Freddie Roach
Just because someone's the best player year after year, doesn't mean you stop giving them the MVP. Roach continued to ply his trade as the best trainer in the game, overseeing the emergence of Ruslan Provodnikov, the resurgence of Miguel Cotto, and the return of Manny Pacquiao, among other feats. And the former boxer also showed he can still take a blow -- in this case, a kick to the stomach from Alex Ariza.
by Kieran Mulvaney
Freddie Roach and Robert Garcia - Photo Credit: Will Hart
Before they became the stars of their own main event, when the trainers of Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios spoke to the press, it was about their fighters and their plans for Saturday night's contest here at the Venetian Macao. And when they were questioned, it was to inquire about their plans and strategies for that fight, and to ascertain how their charges were feeling. But even then, the signs of tension between the camps percolated beneath the surface.
On Monday, Robert Garcia, chief second for Rios, spoke with a few reporters in his fighter's hotel suite. Pacquiao, he was at pains to point out, "has been a great champion, considered perhaps one of the best in history, and we might not ever again see a fighter accomplish what he has accomplished." But, he added, "we've seen the last two years, the last two fights, there are some differences, there are some changes, and especially his last fight when he got knocked out. We don't know, nobody knows, how that really affected him. We've seen other fighters, and I would say nine out of 10 are never the same, but we don't know."
Then there came a point in the discussion when Garcia, who was 2012's Boxing Writers Association of America trainer of the Year, turned his focus unbidden to Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach.
"I went out on my own, with my own gym, five years ago, and in the last five years everything that I've done, that I've accomplished with my team, especially the last two years, has been great," he began. "For Roach to be worried about, 'I want to prove that I'm the best trainer. I want to prove that my gym is the best,' I'd be ashamed to say that about a 38 year old who started five years ago. I think they're the ones who have everything to lose."
So was Roach -- who won the same Trainer of the Year award five times before Garcia assumed his mantle -- as tweaked by his young rival's success as Garcia claimed? Asked about it the next day, the veteran cornerman didn't exactly seem consumed with anxiety, but he did acknowledge that, "I'd like to beat him, yeah," and referenced Ring Magazine listing Roach as being "out" and Garcia being "in" in its year-end list.
Which brings us to the present, and the scene Wednesday morning when Roach entered the gym area beneath the Venetian Arena that the two camps are sharing during fight week. Rios and Garcia have the gym booked from 9 to 11 each day, and Pacquiao and Rios from 11 to 4. (That, in itself, was the source of some tension, given that Roach made the first pick: "Five hours?" exclaimed Garcia. "Who trains for five hours?") But on this day, Team Rios was still in the gym past 11 – a consequence, they said, of having to take 15 minutes to shoot an interview for ESPN's SportsCenter, and Roach wanted them out.
The result would not have been out of place in a schoolyard face-off.
"Get the fuck out."
"I'm not going anywhere."
"Piece of shit."
"Don't call me a piece of shit."
There was shoving, pushing, the hurling of at least one racial epithet, some apparent mocking of Roach's Parkinson's disease, a kick to Roach's stomach, and a near-brawl that was only quelled by the intervention of security. It was altogether unedifying, but for the rest of the day it was pretty much the only topic of conversation around the media room. Videos of the clash, filmed from different angles, were dissected with an intensity normally associated with scholars of the Zapruder film.
Later in the evening, at the final press conference, neither trainer took the opportunity to walk things back. Garcia said not to trust any video of the scuffle except for one. "I want to invite everyone to go to ESNewsReporting.com, because that's where you will see exactly what happened, " he said. When it was his turn at the podium Roach countered, "Yeah, go watch that website because that's his friend and he edited it for him. How dumb is that?" Promoter Bob Arum joked that he would be bringing in Judge Judy to settle the matter. Viewers will get a chance to decide for themselves when 24/7 airs Thursday night.
But if writing an account of the shenanigans felt oddly like detailing the settling of grievances after recess, the conflict was real, the volcanic release of simmering tensions. Whether it will affect the fighters, or the fight, is another matter.
Photo Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank
Shoves, kicks, and slurs were exchanged this morning when the Rios and Pacquiao camps crossed paths between training sessions at The Venetian Macau ahead of this weekend's fight. Hall-of-Fame trainer Freddie Roach got into it with his counterpart Robert Garcia as well as several members of Rios's entourage, include Alex Ariza, who used to work with Roach.
With the 24/7 cameras on-site for the melee, Thursday night's finale of '24/7 Pacquiao/Rios,' airing at 10 PM ET/PT, just got even more interesting.
by Kieran Mulvaney
Officially, Manny Pacquiao has won two of his three meetings with Juan Manuel Marquez, and Marquez has won none. But there are plenty of different opinions over who “really’ should have won their previous fights, and there are plenty of different opinions over who will win their fourth one. We hit the phone and patrolled the media room at the MGM Grand to gather the predictions of some fighters and writers.
Robert Guerrero, welterweight titlist
I like Marquez by decision. I think it’s going to be a lot like the last fight, I just think the determination that Marquez has to pull out a win will be the difference. He knows he has to pull it off big to get the win, and he looks in great shape. In the last fight, his trainer told him to ease off at the end; this time, he’ll have that pedal to the metal all the way.
Lem Satterfield, RingTV.com
I think it’s going to be Marquez by decision. I think the element of the two new judges, who last week scored a fight for Austin Trout (against Miguel Cotto) on what is basically Miguel Cotto’s home turf, gives me the perception that they’re going to come in here with a balanced view of the fight. This tells me that if Marquez fights as well as he did last time – given that the majority of the media and everyone else who saw the fight thought that he won – he has a good chance.
Ron Borges, Boston Herald
I like Marquez by decision. I think if you put them side-by-side-by-side-by-side, if that’s enough sides, the previous fights all sort of look alike. If you take the previous 36 rounds and put them in a pot, you get a draw. Move a point around here and there, and Marquez is 2-0-1 instead of 0-2-1. I don’t see any way it can go any differently.
Robert Garcia, former junior lightweight champion and current Trainer of the Year
I think we’re going to have a great fight. A lot of people think a fourth fight is already too much. I think we could have five and six and we’re always going to want to watch it because they always bring out the best in each other. The fights are always so close and I think we’re going to see another close fight. It could go either way.
Rich Marotta, KFI Radio Los Angeles
I’m taking Marquez by decision. I think the fight will be fairly similar to the first three fights. I’ve picked Juan Manuel Marquez three times, and I thought that he’s won three times. I’ve scored all the fights for him on my personal scorecard, and I don’t see any reason to go any different. I think that’s how he’ll fight tomorrow night. He might be a little bit more aggressive, but I think it’ll be a close fight but I think that Marquez’ style just confounds Pacquiao.
Joe Saraceno, USA Today
I’ll take Pacquiao by late rounds stoppage. Marquez is bigger and has more armor on him, and I think that might slow him down. I think they might end up exchanging, and I think Manny might get the better of it. I know Manny’s very serious for the fight, more than perhaps he has been for some recent fights.
Brandon Rios, junior welterweight titlist
It’s going to be a great fight, a really close fight, but I think Pacquiao will win by split decision. I see knockdowns because they’re both predicting knockouts, so it should be a good fight.
Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports
I see a fight that is very similar to the last one. And I’m taking Pacquiao by decision.
Ryan Songalia, BoxingScene.com
I think we’re going to have a fight that looks a lot like the first three. My issue is wondering whether Manny is still a hungry fighter. I think it was Joe Louis who said, ‘It’s hard to get up and go running in the morning when you’re wearing silk pajamas.’ Manny has silk pajamas with diamonds in them. I hope it doesn’t look like an older man’s fight, with both fighters throwing a lot less punches – although I think Marquez will throw fewer punches anyway because he’s bulked up. Until they get in the ring we’re talking out our asses anyway, right? But I’m going with Manny by majority decision.
Norm Frauenheim, 15Rounds.com
I’ll pick it as a draw. A lot of people think that would be terrible for the sport of boxing, but I’m not convinced of that, because I think it will cause a lot of debate and who knows? Maybe we see a fifth fight. Maybe we need a best of seven series. I think one of the issues with Pacquiao – and I do believe he’s more engaged with this fight – is that as he’s gone up in weight, he’s lost some power. I don’t believe he can knock Marquez out.
Tris Dixon, Boxing News
I’ve got three schools of thoughts on this, actually. The first is that it’s going to be real nip-and-tuck like the other three, that it’s going to go down to the wire and could go either way. The second is that Manny just had a bad night at the office the last time they met, and he is actually bigger and stronger and can just wipe out Marquez. And the third is that now Marquez has his strength and conditioning on message, that he could actually be far bigger and stronger than Manny on the night. I’m more inclined to go with the styles-make-fights thing, which is option number one. So I think it will go nip-and-tuck, and I think the judges will be crucial on the night, as they often are in Vegas, and I think they could vote for Marquez.
by Eric Raskin
In boxing circles 2011 is shaping up as the Year of the Garcia. One Garcia having a breakout year wouldn't warrant such a bold proclamation. But if two Garcias both explode to the next level-especially with a third one playing a supporting role-then it's fair to suggest this 12-month pugilistic period belongs to them.
In the late 1990s, Robert Garcia was a junior lightweight titleholder who entertained audiences with a mix of skill, punching power, and plenty of heart while campaigning under the unusual nickname "Grandpa." Now, he is one of boxing's premier trainers.