Best I’ve trained: Robert Garcia
Robert Garcia is widely lauded as one of the top trainers in boxing today, but he didn’t start as one.
As a boxer, Garcia won the vacant IBF junior lightweight title in 1998. Surprisingly, though, he doesn’t credit the win over Harold Warren as his proudest moment in the ring.
“My greatest moment as a fighter wasn’t winning the title, it was my first title defense when I beat Ramon Ledon,” Garcia told RingTV.com. “He was very strong and dropped me in the second round and pretty much had me out. I survived a few more rounds and then in the fifth I knocked him out.”
Garcia would make two successful defenses before losing to the late Diego Corrales. He retired from boxing at 26 with a record of 34-3, 25 knockouts. But boxing had always in Garcia’s blood, having learned his craft from his father, Eduardo, who was celebrated for his work with Fernando Vargas.
Robert, 39, always felt his true calling was as a trainer.
Since turning to training in 2004 Garcia has worked with countless world champions, though has been actively involved in nine fighters winning world titles.
Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, situated in Oxnard, California, is now home to many of the best boxers in the world, including Marcos Maidana, Nonito Donaire, Mikey Garcia (Robert’s little brother), Brandon Rios, Evgeny Gradovich and others.
And while many inside boxing align themselves with certain people and companies, Garcia remains impartial.
“I’m the only trainer that works good with everyone,” he said. “I’m fortunate to have a good relationship with Golden Boy, Top Rank and Lou DiBella. I’m the type of trainer that doesn’t pick sides. I work with everybody, I get along with everybody.”
Relationships are what Garcia values most. The three-time RING Magazine Trainer of the Year creates a family vibe in his gym and has a close bond with many of his fighters. He says he appreciates his many accolades but says it’s a team effort.
“My goal is to have all my fighters taken care of for the rest of their lives and all my assistants in the gym taken care of, seeing their happy faces after the win. That’s my goal, just to keep my family, friends and team happy.”
Garcia kindly agreed to speak with RingTV.com about the best he trained in 10 key categories.
Best Boxing Skills – Joan Guzman, Nonito Donaire and Mikey Garcia – Years ago when I was working with Joan Guzman he was very skilful. Now Nonito Donaire and Mikey Garcia are very skilful. I can’t really pick one from another but all three are very skilful fighters. Oleksandr Gvozdyk, he’s a 2012 [Olympic] bronze medalist, that guy has tremendous skills.
Best Jab – Brandon Rios – Mikey works the jab very well, that’s the punch we always taught him, everything off the jab. But Brandon Rios has hurt a lot of fighters with the jab. I would say Brandon has a solid jab. Mikey has the jab to time and then land the right hand. Both have a great jabs but Brandon has hurt a lot of fighters with the jab and dropped a few so I would have to pick Brandon.
Best Defense – Guzman and Garcia – Guzman had tremendous defense when I had him for a couple of fights, he was very smart. Right now Mikey is a very defensive fighter, hardly ever gets hit.
Best Chin – Rios – We’ve got to go with Brandon Rios. That guy gets hit and he doesn’t even blink. ‘Chino’ Maidana has a tremendous chin but he’s been dropped a couple of times. He gets up but he’s been dropped a few times so I’d say Brandon Rios.
Best Puncher – Marcos Maidana – If we go by the records, Brandon Rios has a lot of knockouts, Nonito Donaire has a lot of knockouts, Mikey Garcia has mostly knockouts. Egidijus Kavaliauskas (a Lithuanian welterweight prospect) has tremendous power, that kid is a monster. I’ve had Kelly Pavlik, he was a tremendous puncher, but we’ve got to also say Chino Maidana is the one that hits hardest.
Fastest Hands – Donaire – Has a lot of speed. I would probably say Nonito is the fastest of all.
Fastest Feet – Thomas Dulorme – I’d say Dulorme, he moves very well. Nonito Donaire has very good footwork. Mikey has very good feet but I’d say Dulorme is very fast, he uses the ring very well.
Smartest – Garcia – Mikey’s very smart. He’s very smart when it comes to being inside the ring, through training camp, everything that has to do with boxing Mikey’s probably the one.
Strongest – Egidijus Kavaliauskas – He’s a strong guy, physically and mentally very strong. He thinks there’s nobody that can beat him. He knocks out sparring partners in the gym.
Best Overall – That’s a hard one for me to answer. I’m very happy with what we’ve done with Brandon Rios, he’s made a lot of big fights, a lot of money. Nonito Donaire has won world titles in four weight divisions being with me. Mikey is already two-time world champion. (Evgeny) Gradovich is a fighter that is very dedicated, he’s probably the one that’s the most dedicated. With Maidana what we did with (Adrien) Broner and then (Floyd) Mayweather. I can’t really say who is the best because I don’t want them to feel bad but they’re all really talented. We are all one.