Robert Garcia is on a win streak that could lead to a Trainer of the Year award for 2012. If the former titleholder-turned-trainer gets his wish he might clinch that honor with a Fight of the Year candidate between his latest fighter and a former pupil.
So far this year, all of the world-class fighters that Garcia trains – Nonito Donaire, Brandon Rios, Kelly Pavlik, Marcos Maidana and younger brother Mikey Garcia – are unbeaten with him in their corners.
Garcia, who trains fighters in his hometown of Oxnard, Calif., is confident that his newest client, Hernan “Tyson” Marquez, will keep the win streak going by beating Brian Viloria in a flyweight title unification bout on Saturday at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles.
Garcia, who trained Viloria from 2008 to early 2010, knows the 24-year-old southpaw from Sonora, Mexico will be tested by the 31-year-old veteran, who has won three major titles in two divisions.
“I’m confident with the work we’ve put in over the past three months, but I also know that Brian is so fast, so talented and he hits so hard that this could turn out to be a fight-of-the-year type fight or a quick knockout for either guy,” Garcia told RingTV.com at a media workout at Azteca Boxing Club in Bell, Calif., on Tuesday.
“But the way we’ve prepared, I think Tyson has the advantage. Ever since he arrived to my gym he’s wanted to prove that he belongs with my fighters. We don’t lose. He knows my fighters are winning and he wants to keep it going.”
Marquez (34-2, 25 knockouts) is on a win streak of his own. The gutsy boxer-brawler has won seven in a row since suffering an eighth-round stoppage to Donaire in a junior bantamweight bout in July of 2010. Among his recent victories is an epic 11th-round stoppage of Luis Concepcion last April – a Fight of the Year candidate that earned him the WBA flyweight title – and a rematch decision over Richie Mepranum, the only other man to defeat him, in March.
Viloria (31-3, 18 KOs) is also on an impressive run of victories. The Filipino-American boxer-puncher has won five consecutive bouts since losing his IBF 108-pound title with a 12th-round TKO to Carlos Tamara in January of 2010. The former amateur standout from Waipahu, Hawaii, who was on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, has arguably exhibited the best form of his 11-year pro career in his last three bouts: a WBO flyweight title-winning decision over Julio Cesar Miranda last July, an eighth-round stoppage of former RING 108-pound champ Giovani Segura last December and a ninth-round TKO of former beltholder Omar Nino Romero, which avenged one of his three losses.
Marquez says his showdown with Viloria, which will be televised on Wealth TV in the U.S., is the most important fight of his seven-year career.
“Clearly, this is the biggest fight I’ve ever had,” he said through translator Miguel Maravilla. “It’s a unification bout between the two best flyweights in the world.
“Part of the reason I chose Robert as my new trainer was because he is familiar with Viloria and he’s the kind of trainer who knows how to make adjustments during a fight. My preparation with him has been the most intense of my career because I know a victory over Viloria will take me to another level.”
Marquez mentioned a showdown with undefeated 108-pound titleholder Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, who fights in the co-featured bout of Saturday’s card, as a potential “mega fight” waiting for him if he beats Viloria, but he refrained from pontificating too much about the future.
“First things first,” he said. “I have a big test ahead of me on Saturday.”
Gonzalez (33-0, 28 KOs), who has one of the best records and highest KO percentages in boxing, will defend his WBA junior flyweight belt against Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada.
The 25-year-old Nicaraguan isn’t in as tough as Marquez and Viloria. Estrada (22-1, 18 KOs), a 22-year-old flyweight/junior bantamweight from Sonora, is taller and naturally bigger than Gonzalez, but he hasn’t faced competition anywhere near the two-division titleholder.
Gonzalez won the WBA 105-pound title with a fourth-round TKO of Yutaka Niida – THE RING’s No. 1-rated strawweight at the time – in Japan in 2008. He defended that title three times before stepping up to the 108-pound division in late 2010 and then winning the WBA 108-pound belt with a decision over Mauel Vargas last March. Gonzalez has defended the title three times.
A protégé of the late, great Alexis Arguello, Gonzalez is a skilled, complete fighter with excellent technique and world-class power. Some insiders believe he is worthy of a lower-top 10 ranking in the mythical pound-for-pound ratings.
Gonzalez is too modest to agree with that opinion.
“I’m probably top 20 to 25,” he told RingTV.com through Maravilla at Tuesday’s media workout. “The best fighters in the world are veterans like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez and Sergio Martinez. I think young fighters like Nonito Donaire and Andre Ward are in the top 10, too.
“I can’t be considered top 10 until I fight fellow champions who are as accomplished as I am. A fight with the winner of Viloria-Marquez would be a good start.”
Gonzalez isn’t too modest to look past Estrada to a potential matchup with Viloria or Marquez.
“Not all fights are the same but I think my fight with either Marquez or Viloria would be an excellent, tough fight. It would be like two big trucks colliding.”
Email Fischer at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer