Boxing is all about keeping pace and the thrill of an incredible win, while not necessarily short-lived, must be met with the reality that work is never done. And just as trainer Robert Garcia is soaking up the aftermath of his charge Brandon Rios’ electric win over Urbano Antillon last weekend in Carson, California, he has other fights on the horizon that will soon require his undivided attention.
Aside from training the WBA lightweight champion Rios, Garcia also works with bantamweight champion Nonito Donaire, featherweight contender and his younger brother Mikey Garcia, and former champion Antonio Margarito. At the moment Margarito appears headed for a December 3rd rematch with Miguel Cotto and it’s a fight that has its share of buzz despite being months away.
Margarito was in attendance to watch his stable mate Rios triumph over Antillon and Garcia confirms that he reconnected with the Tijuana fighter while he was in town.
“Definitely,” stated Garcia. “We talked for a while about the fight and training camp. I don’t know if the fight is a done deal; I don’t know if the contracts are signed but it looks like the fight is basically done. But we talked about training camp and how we’re going to train. Of course, we’ll go maybe two and a half months before the fight.”
There definitely is a history between Margarito and Cotto. They first fought in July of 2008 inside of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, with Margarito overcoming a slow start to drop the Puerto Rican twice late on his way to capturing an 11th round TKO. It was Margarito’s greatest win as a pro but controversy was just around the corner.
In his following fight Margarito was found to have tampered hands wraps in his dressing room prior to his January 2009 loss to Shane Mosley in Los Angeles and was subsequently suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for one year. Those developments started speculation that perhaps Margarito had been performing illegally for his previous fights, especially the Cotto bout.
Cotto has since shown a serious disdain towards Margarito and there certainly are bitter feelings coming from Miguel. While Vegas is in the running to land the fight again it appears that Madison Square Garden in New York has the inside track at the moment, which would certainly create a hostile environment for Margarito seeing as though Cotto has a huge following on the East Coast.
It goes without saying that Garcia would rather have the fight go down in Nevada but it prepared for whatever may come.
“Of course we would like it to be in Vegas. It’s basically in the West Coast, it’s close to home. I know it’s going to be freezing cold in New York and it’s a long flight but it doesn’t make a difference. I know Madison Square Garden is going to be full of mostly Puerto Ricans but that’s not a problem. Margarito’s ready to fight and he would love to fight him, it doesn’t make a difference. He wants to prove everybody wrong,” Garcia stated with conviction.
Following his loss to Margarito, Cotto would go on to edge out Joshua Clottey at the Garden via split-decision before being halted in brutal fashion by Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in November of 2009. That loss had many questioning his future but he has since rebounded impressively by moving up in weight and stopping Yuri Foreman to snatch the WBA junior middleweight crown and defended his title last March with a 12th round TKO over Ricardo Mayorga.
Margarito himself took a severe beating at the hands of Pacquiao last November and even suffered a broken orbital bone that was looked at as possibly career-threatening at one point. And while the 33-year old has had clearance to fight again, he will have been out of the ring for over a year by the time he challenges Cotto again.
Any concerns from Garcia about such a layoff at this stage in Margarito’s career?
“No, not at all. [Margarito] hasn’t been sparring but he’s still been keeping in shape. He’s not that heavy and he just has to get to work. But that doesn’t concern me at all,” claimed Garcia.
Before we finished up our talk I wanted to let Garcia clear the air about some recent rumblings that he had claimed Donaire was close to returning to Top Rank after a failed attempt at jumping ship to Golden Boy Promotions that ended up in an ugly legal mess. It was initially reported by Jhonny Gonzalez at BoxingScene.com that Garcia told Sal Rodriguez that a deal was in the works but the 36-year old trainer claims to have no knowledge of such claims.
“I never read it but they told me that I had said he had already worked things out with Top Rank. But I never said that. That’s something that I never mentioned and that is not my job. He has his manager, he has an attorney who is handling that, so I’m not worried. Whether it’s Top Rank or Golden Boy, I will train him to beat anybody that’s in front of him.”
(Writer’s note: MaxBoxing and CSNBayArea columnist Ryan Maquinana also covered the Donaire issue with Garcia. To check out Maquinana’s video please click HERE)
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected]