In this interview with Marcos Villegas of FightHub, trainer Robert Garcia talks about a few different topics including keeping a professional relationship with Abner Mares and what his younger brother, Mikey Garcia, is looking to do in his next outing. Check out some excerpts of the interview below.
Robert Garcia on Abner Mares’ improvements since hiring him as a trainer:
“Since day one, which we’re almost getting close to two years working with Abner, everday I’ve been seeing improvment - little by little. Every week, every month that goes by, I see him getting better and I think it’s him listening and believing in me. I think the Cuellar fight was the main reason for him to really believe in me.
“He knows he was the underdog...he heard everybody saying he was gonna get knocked out. Very few people gave him a chance. But the way he beat him and the way he was able to become world champion again was because of the way I train him and because he listened.
“We still haven’t broken that. You know, we still haven’t become friends where we could go out together. You know, after his victory against Cuellar, becoming world champion, I didn’t go celebrate with him. He wanted me to, and I told him ‘no.’ I gave him my reasons...If we go celebrate, your friends, everybody is going to want to drink beer, they’re going to want us to take a shot together, and that’s gonna ruin everything. So I’m staying away from that. I’m going to go celebrate with my wife, with my kids — that’s my celebration.
“So he was okay with that, he understood that, and that’s the way I want to keep it. I don’t want to keep a relationship where we become friends and he tells me “hey coach, I did this or I did that,” you know, I’m his trainer. And so far, it’s worked...”
On what he wants Mares to do differently in a rematch with Leo Santa Cruz:
“Look, I was there for that [first] fight and it was just a great fight...Abner went in there, fought his heart out and pleased the crowd. People were happy, they walked out of fight and enjoyed a great night of boxing. But I think Abner fought the wrong fight.
“I think Abner fighting Leo in a rematch, which should happen if we beat Gutierrez — I don’t want to look past Gutierrez because he’s a young, hungry fighter that is getting a title opportunity so he’s gonna come out and try to beat Abner — so if everything goes well, he’s gonna fight different...Abner is gonna listen and the results that I got with Cuellar, knowing very few thought we could do it, that helped build up that confidence that Abner has when it comes to me.
“He came to me thinking that I’m going to teach him maybe how to be stronger and throw more punches inside but I told him ‘no, I’m gonna teach you how to box, how to be smart.’ And at first he kind of questioned, you know why, or ‘you think we can do that?’ and the results were there with Cuellar. So he believes even more now...We’ve been training for Santa Cruz for the past five, six months already...”
On when Mikey Garcia is looking to return and against whom:
“Right now Mikey’s in a great position. Linares is there but it’s not there for December...If Linares fight happens it will be sometime in February or March, that’s what we already talked about. Linares will be ready in late February or March. As of a fight in December, we have a couple options. I think we’re waiting the next couple of days for [Miguel] Cotto to make a decision -- Cotto has other options so it all depends on what Cotto wants to do. It’s up to Cotto right now...
“If Cotto picked Lemieux then I think we’re gonna fight another fight in December, a week or two after — maybe a unification fight. Maybe the other one, from Ohio. Robert Easter...If it’s not Cotto, Mikey wants to fight the best out there. So all that is a possibility. But as of now we’re waiting on Cotto.”
On the weight difference between Mikey and Miguel:
“Cotto’s as tall as Mikey, or maybe about the same. Maybe a little bit smaller...I think Mikey has 1 inch reach advantage against Cotto...so it’s not that we’re gonna fight one of those solid junior middleweights out there. You know, it’s a guy that’s also been moving up in weight from 135 to 140, eventually now a 154 pounder. So I like the fight. Mikey said he won’t even ask for a catchweight, Mikey will let him come in at 154. Of course Mikey is not gonna come in at 154, Mikey will come in under 150, you know, but Mikey wants the fight. If Cotto picks Mikey then [our next fight] is gonna be against Cotto.”
On how he sees that fight playing out:
“It’s a tough fight. We were talking about it with my dad yesterday and Cotto’s always been one of our favorite fighters. His skills, the way he fights — he’s a helluva fighter so it won’t be an easy fight. But Mikey wants those challenges...if It’s not Cotto then Mikey wants to fight Easter...Mikey doesn’t want them to just pick an easy win...”
On how he sees a fight between Mikey and Linares playing out since people still question Linares’ ability to take a punch:
“[The cuts and chin] are the only two things — and actually they’re big things — that people are talking about, his skin and that he gets dropped pretty easy. But in boxing anybody can get dropped. Mikey’s been dropped twice.
“You know, Linares gets up and fights. Linares’ skills are pound-for-pound one of the best skilled fighters in boxing. He’s skillful. So it wouldn’t be an easy fight. I know Mikey would probably be the favorite but it won’t be that far. I think it’s a very close fight. Linares is a helluva fighter with tremendous skills and the fight would be very interesting.”