By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Robert Garcia made it to Barclays Center on Saturday night after all.
Garica initially was not going to work Josesito Lopez’s corner for Lopez’s shot at Keith Thurman’s WBA world welterweight title at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Garcia, Lopez’s head trainer, had planned to attend his’ daughter’s quinceanera, a traditional birthday ceremony for a 15-year-old girl, before the Thurman-Lopez fight was scheduled.
His daughter turned 15 on Saturday. Her quinceanera ultimately was postponed to accommodate her father’s hectic boxing schedule.
Robert Garcia’s father, Eduardo Garcia, was going to be Lopez’s chief second for his 12-round, 147-pound title match versus Thurman. Robert and Eduardo Garcia now will work Lopez’s corner together.
“I wasn’t [going to come], but I decided to cancel that fiesta,” Robert Garcia told ESNews on Saturday. “I couldn’t miss Josesito’s fight. I was there. I was like, ‘F*** this. Mike, I need to go.’ Fly me out there. … I just told them, ‘Get me a flight Friday, Friday morning.’ And they got me the flight for [Friday] night.”
Before learning Robert Garcia changed his mind, Lopez expressed confidence, even though his head trainer wasn’t supposed to work his corner.
“It’s not an issue,” Lopez said during a press conference Thursday at Barclays Center. “In training camp, we train in a family atmosphere. So, I’ve got the boxing guru, Mr. Big G, here with me, around me. And we might have a little surprise for you come this weekend, with some virtual image of my trainer, Robert Garcia.”
Lopez appreciates how Robert Garcia has helped transform him into a more complete, smarter fighter than he was when Andre Berto stopped him in the sixth round of their March 2015 fight in Ontario, California. Eduardo Garcia also has been present throughout Lopez’s transformation at the Garcias’ gym in Riverside, California, Lopez’s hometown.
“Robert Garcia, he’s basically my chief second,” Lopez said. “Big G, he’s there in the gym. But he doesn’t really work anyone’s corner, and I feel special that he’s out here today. Because he’s only with Mikey Garcia, man, and it’s really an honor to have Big G in my corner. Extra motivation, and like I said before, he’s a boxing guru, man, and when he speaks, you soak in everything you can. He gives you that extra push, that extra feel that you need.”
The 34-year-old Lopez has won three straight fights since Berto beat him. In his last bout, Lopez upset previously unbeaten prospect Miguel Cruz (then 17-0) by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder April 28 in El Paso, Texas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.