Roberto Garcia was a hell of a fighter, but the former junior lightweight titleholder may already be a better trainer.
Fans clearly recognize Garcia’s coaching talent as indicated by his razor-thin selection over the sport’s most celebrated active trainer, Freddie Roach, in RingTV.com’s poll for Trainer of the Year for 2011.
Roach, a five-time recipient of the Boxing Writer’s Association of America’s Trainer of the year Award and a recent hall of fame inductee, did not have good year by his standards, however, being the longtime coach of the most popular boxer on the planet makes him a very hard man to beat in a fan poll.
However, that’s just what Garcia did – by one point.
Garcia, who guided both Brandon Rios and Nonito Donaire to the top of THE RING’s lightweight and bantamweight rankings in 2011, received 39.3 percent of vote.
Roach, who trains Manny Pacquiao, Amir Khan, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., received 38.3 percent. Others who received votes include, Virgil Hunter (9 percent), who trains super middleweight champ Andre Ward; Emanuel Steward (7.5), who trains heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko; Barry Hunter (4.2), who trains WBA/IBF 140-pound titleholder Lamont Peterson; and Eddy Reynoso (1.8), who trains WBC 154-pound titleholder and WBA “regular” bantamweight beltholder Koki Kameda.
The poll included some of the most intelligent and accomplished trainers in the sport, and their fighters had banner years, but Garcia and his fighters had the most success in 2011.
Rios (29-0-1, 22 knockouts) stopped three RING-rated lightweights in impressive and brutal fashion. The 25-year-old slugger won the WBA title with a thrilling come-from-behind 10th-round TKO of talented Miguel Acosta in February. He defended his belt with a third-round KO of fellow pressure fighter Urbano Antillon in their abbreviated shootout in July and a bloody 11th-round stoppage of rugged British contender John Murray in December.
Donaire (27-1, 18 KOs) wasn’t as active as he wanted to be but his first fight of 2011, a chilling second-round TKO of respected dual bantamweight beltholder Fernando Montiel in February, vaulted him to the the top of most pound-for-pound lists. Donaire defended the WBC and WBO titles he won from Montiel with a shutout decision over unbeaten 115-pound beltholder Omar Narvaez in October.
Montiel and Narvarez were THE RING’s No. 1-rated bantamweight and junior bantamweight when Donaire fought them.
Garcia also co-trains his younger brother, Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia along with their father Eduardo Garcia. The undefeated featherweight contender continued his winning ways in 2011.
Garcia (27-0, 23 KOs), THE RING’s No. 8-rated featherweight, defeated undefeated prospect Matt Remillard (RTD 10) in March, late-sub Rafael Guzman (KO 4) in June and spoiler Juan Carlos Martinez (TKO 4) in October. The 24-year-old technician is in line to fight for his first title in 2012.
Rios, who is rumored to be nearing a high-profile title defense against Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Donaire, who is already scheduled to face Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for the vacant WBO 122-pound title in February, are also poised to have big years.
As is Garcia, who at 36 years old will likely be the winner of many more Trainer of the Year awards.
Today’s RingTV.com readers’ choice year-end awards poll category is “Prospect of the Year.” Go to the poll section on the right side of the homepage to cast your vote now.
Photo / Chris Cozzone-Fightwireimages.com