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By Steve Kim Updated on August 05, 2021

RGBA Spreads out on August 14th

Both Joshua Franco and Vergil Ortiz headline cards on the night of August 14. Franco defends his WBA junior bantamweight title against Andrew Moloney in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While rising welterweight contender, Vergil Ortiz, faces Egidijus Kavaliauskas in Frisco, Texas.

Both are under the direction of Robert Garcia, who works with them on a daily basis in Riverside, California.

While admitting that this circumstance is a bit inconvenient, its far from impossible to overcome.

"We're fortunate to have (Vergil's) dad," the noted trainer explained, at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, on the morning of July 30 at his gym, as they began their days work. Ortiz and his father, Vergil Sr., were actually the first ones inside the facility as they prepared for sparring. 

"He's been part of his training camp all his life. He's pretty much the person that has made Vergil what he is, right now," continued Garcia. as the elder Ortiz wrapped his sons hands near the side ring. "So that's a big advantage."

A bit later, Franco and his ultra-talented younger sibling, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez, walked in. 

Garcia says that next week his father, Eduardo -- the patriarch of this boxing family -- and his son Pita (Robert Jr.) will be in Texas to assist Ortiz Sr, as they take on 'the Mean Machine' at the Ford Center in the Star. While he will be at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, with Jose Angel Contreras as his second in charge in the corner. 

Being spread out is part of the business, and it's a sign that business is good for RGBA.

"We call it a blessing because we have two big, very important fights in different locations. That's a lot of work for us. It's actually a blessing that we're able to have these kind of fights," said Garcia, who later on in the day will work with his brother, Mikey, who comes in during the late afternoon shift.

While boxers like Franco and Ortiz diligently prepare for upcoming battles, long-time welterweight contender, Josesito Lopez, also drops by the RGBA to stay ready. He says he has, "nothing concrete, yet, but something coming real soon."

As for who he wants to face next, Lopez, who defeated Francisco 'Chia' Santana via 10th rd TKO, states simply, ''a top guy at 147."

Today, 'the Riverside Rocky' serves as a sparring partner for Ortiz, who goes 12 rounds with three separate boxers. The 23 year old native of Grand Prairie, Texas, is considered one of the best young boxers in the sport. Thus far, he has stopped all 17 foes inside the distance, and has faced increasingly difficult competition in the process. He's no longer a prospect, but a legitimate contender at 147. Currently, he is ranked number one by the WBO (who's belt is held by Terence Crawford).

 

Garcia is bullish on Ortiz's future: "I think he's ready for any of the champions."

After Lopez wrapped up his days sparring and began his floor drills, Franco began his day sparring in the main ring. Last summer, he won the WBA crown by pulling away from Moloney in their first match-up. Then the rematch in November was shrouded in controversy as the fight was stopped in the second round as the fight was stopped after two rounds after referee Russell Mora ruled that the swelling around Franco's left eye was caused by an accidental clash of heads, and not a legal punch.

What followed was a prolonged instant replay review, and a lot of confusion ringside. Eventually, Franco retained his title.

Franco recalls, "I just remember getting hit with the head butt and my eye getting swelled up and shut. I couldn't see out of it any more." According to him, it was follow up jabs that caused his eye to blow up further.

It's clear that this has now become a bit of a grudge match.

"I feel like it's personal," admitted Franco, who says it took a few months for what ended up being an orbital fracture to fully heal. "He's been talking, saying that he deserves the title. He thinks he should've won by TKO. How are you going to deserve a title by just two rounds? I have something to prove, not only to my fans, but to him, as well, that's he's not on my level."

 

As Garcia's son supervised Franco's sparring, on the ring that is adjacent to them, Rodriguez goes through the paces with stablemates Luis Coria and Saul Rodriguez. 'Bam' is currently 13-0 (9 KOs) and just looks like a future blue-chip boxer, the kind what will one day be on pound-for-pound lists to years to come. 

If there is an heir apparent to guys like Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada, it's this 21 year old junior flyweight from San Antonio, who's as strong and powerful from his southpaw stance, as he is smooth and graceful.

"The kid can be a four or five division champion, without question,'' states Garcia, who says he is wrapping up a promotional deal for Rodriguez that will soon have him in the title mix at 108.

This is just another day at work for Garcia and his camp. Where a host of world-class fighters sharpen their tools and prepare for upcoming assignments. And with a roster like this, there are bound to be weekends when Garcia will be separated from certain boxers. 

"Brian Viloria and Steven Luevano both had title defenses the same night, different coaches," Garcia recalled. "We split up. My dad went with Luevano, and I went with Viloria. So it's not the first time -- and I hope it's not the last."

SNAC ATTACK

Like many boxers under the guidance of Garcia, both Lopez and Franco utilize SNAC products. So what are their favorites?

"I'm consistently with the ZMA, now," said Lopez. "It really helps me sleep at night well and rest. So ZMA I take every night."

While Franco says, "I like the protein (Proglycosyn) and the ZMA. The ZMA helps me sleep at night and the protein after good, hard training. It helps me recover, but all of them work really great. I love all the products."

3KR

This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule', Mario Lopez and I were joined by ESPN's Tim Bradley, who discussed a myriad of boxing issues with us:

https://dcs.megaphone.fm/HSW9527528285.mp3?key=344997eca81ae1899c8fc505fa8ba106

FINAL FLURRIES

A purse bid was avoided and a deal was struck for WBO 130 pound titlist, Jamel Herring, to face Shakur Stevenson. This match-up will take place some time between late October and early November...On Friday afternoon, ESPN+ has a card from Northern Ireland that has a main event between Michael Conlan and TJ Doheny.... Saturday has a full roster of boxing (check your local listings), Matchroom's 'Fight Camp' resumes on DAZN (Kid Galahad-Jazza Dickens for the vacant IBF belt), ESPN+ has a card from Russia featuring Fedor Papazov-Arslan Magomedov, and then PBC on Fox returns to Minneapolis where Eimantas Stanionis takes on veteran Luis Collazo....I'm looking forward to seeing Miami Hurricane greats, Edgerrin James and Jimmy Johnson get their permanent place in Canton.....I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com....

 

About Author
RGBA Spreads out on August 14th
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for UCNlive.com.
  • Was a boxing reporter for ESPN.com from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.