Ryan Maquinana had a two-part interview with reigning Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia (he won the illegitimate Bad Left Hook award, too!), and Garcia discussed topics concerning three of his top fighters (well, two and a new guy) as well as other topics.
Garcia on Nonito Donaire facing Guillermo Rigondeaux:
Robert Garcia: I don’t even think [Rigondeaux is] going to be in the picture. There’s bigger names. I’m not saying that Rigondeaux is not that big of a name. He’s a world champion now, but we have the [Jorge] Arces and [Juan Manuel] Lopezes and all these other names that Top Rank handles that make more sense for money and TV and everything.
BoxingScene.com: So are you saying you don’t think Rigondeaux has earned a shot at Nonito yet?
Robert Garcia: He still hasn’t, and that fight makes no sense. And we’re better off fighting the Arces or moving up and fighting the Lopezes and [Yuriorkis] Gamboas at featherweight than fighting Rigondeaux who nobody really cares about.
This is kind of a runaround answer from Garcia, but that doesn't surprise me at all.
We discussed the other day that while Rigondeaux is no big star and is never going to be, he is potentially a stylistic nightmare for Donaire, and here's what I said about the fight then:
Rigondeaux can beat Donaire, and stands a very good chance of doing so should he get the opportunity. In fact, he stands a good chance of shutting him down and making him look bad, which is even worse. Maybe it's a 50-50 fight. Maybe it's 60-40 in Donaire's favor. But boxing promoters don't generally like to make fights with their star fighters that are any less than 70-30 on paper for the fortunate son. It does happen, but not often.
Which is why, quite frankly, I doubt Donaire will go near him, or perhaps more accurately, why I doubt Top Rank will ever seriously consider putting that fight together. They're not dummies: Donaire has value as a potential star fighter. Rigondeaux does not. Risking Donaire's upside on a guy like Rigondeaux might be interesting boxing for many of us, but it's not your typical boxing business.
Garcia is trying to softly say the same thing here, I think: Rigondeaux is dangerous and presents too even an on-paper matchup for Donaire when you take into account Rigondeaux's total lack of marketability.
Jorge Arce is probably the absolute easiest semi-credible fight on the planet for Nonito Donaire, as he's a reckless, no-defense brawler, short, not very fast, not a cagey stylist or anything, and is there to be hit and picked apart by speed and power, which Donaire has in spades. Donaire vs Arce is a marketable mismatch -- Arce has no hope in hell of beating Nonito Donaire, but Arce is very popular and very well-known and makes for exciting fights, even when he gets his ass kicked.
Garcia does also mention Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa, but the Gamboa mention is just a press nibble, as Gamboa is headed north in weight and isn't going to be sitting at 126 much longer, while Donaire is making his debut at 122 on February 4 against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.
* * * * *
Garcia also says that Kelly Pavlik, who recently joined his camp, is "fitting in" nicely in Oxnard and is working with nutritionist Cecilio Flores, who is also working with Brandon Rios. Rios is tentatively scheduled to be back on March 3, but a potential fight with John Molina appears to be falling apart with Molina having some promotional issues again, and is using the nutritionist to try and stay at 135 pounds in the short-term and to keep healthier between fights, as he's been known, not unlike Ricky Hatton, to fatten up between bouts and get a little lazy. (Though not to Hatton's extremes, it should be said.)
Pavlik, says Garcia, weighed in at 173 recently, so they're thinking it might be possible for him to return to middleweight instead of fighting at super middleweight. There is concern that Pavlik simply isn't going to be very good over 160 pounds, and his one fight at 168 certainly wasn't impressive, nor did he look good in his 170-pound catchweight beatdown at the hands of Bernard Hopkins, and he wasn't even particularly good at 164 for his rematch with Jermain Taylor, though he did win that one.
I'm really interested to see if Garcia can maintain his success. I think Rios is really a legitimate top fighter, but also sort of a ticking time bomb who could have a very short prime. Donaire needs to be kept away from certain guys, and Garcia himself knows that, or appears to acknowledge it any rate. Pavlik is Pavlik. Antonio Margarito is functionally finished as he only has one good eye. And Mikey Garcia, who is set to face Michael Farenas on March 10 in Puerto Rico on the Salido vs Lopez II card in a WBO featherweight eliminator, still has a lot of question marks.