Photos: A Conversation with Steve Forbes

IMG_0344By Rudy Mondragon  

In my recent visit of the Wild Card Boxing Gym, I was able to chill with Steve Forbes (35-12, 11 KOs). Forbes is the boxer who fought Oscar De La Hoya and has provided valuable sparring rounds to many top fighters. Forbes mentioned that he is going to fight in early April and will be doing some sparing with Manny Pacquiao and possibly Marcos Maidana in preparation for Floyd Mayweather Jr.

My first question for Forbes was who he thought were the top trainers in the game based on these four: Joel Diaz, Freddie Roach, Virgil Hunter, and Robert Garcia. He responded by saying Freddie Roach, Robert Garcia, Joel Diaz, and Virgil Hunter. Maybe he placed Freddie at the top since we were in his gym. He said Freddie is consistent while Garcia is a busy trainer and Joel is growing his gym (I reminded Forbes that it appears that Victor Ortiz has joined Joel’s stable of fighters).

Victor Joel

Forbes did not say why he placed Virgil fourth. Maybe it was because of Alfredo Angulo’s recent loss to Saul Alvarez. Then I remembered what Freddie Roach told me about the attention that Virgil Hunter has been receiving as a trainer. Roach stated that Virgil is getting a lot of attention these days as a defense oriented coach. However, according to Roach, “just because you have a defensive fighter in Ward, does not necessarily make you a defensive style coach.” Furthermore, trainers do not change the styles of their fighters and expecting Virgil to change Angulo, Khan, and Berto (all offensive fighters) is asking for a revolutionary act.

Forbes also shared his thoughts on the late (he’s not dead, but his career might be) Victor Ortiz. Steve and Ortiz go way back. They have worked together and are good friends. According to Forbes, Victor has been hit with harder punches in training camp than in his recent fight against Collazo. He thinks that Victor has lost his passion and is no longer motivated to fight since he is more focused on doing movies and promoting his own cologne. I agree with Forbes. Victor is in a situation where he needs to be resurrected by a new trainer and a new promotional banner. It was a mystery as to who trained him for his last fight against Luis Collazo, let alone the fact that Oscar De La Hoya tweeted immediately after his last fight that he should basically retire.

The last thing we discussed was Floyd Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana. We both agreed that Marcos Maidana could be in similar danger as Ricky Hatton. In Ricky’s fight against Mayweather, he kept trying to walk through Mayweather. Eventually, Floyd adjusted and used Ricky’s momentum against him and knocked him out with a nasty left. Forbes said that Maidana will need to be aggressive, but not reckless.

It was a good moment to share with Steve Forbes. He is one of the hardest working guys out there. He has dedicated himself to the game and hustles to make a living. Not only did I seen him at Wild Card, but I had also seen him at Robert Garcia Boxing Academy sparring with Marcos Maidana. This is the life of an industrial fighter. The hustle and struggle is real both in the competition and in practice ring. One has to do what one has to do in order to survive and thrive in the game of boxing.

Robert Garcia Boxing Academy Experience

By Rudy Mondragon 

On Tuesday afternoon, I called the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy to see if Robert Garcia would be at his gym. A woman answered the phone (later to find out it was Robert’s wife!) and said the gym didn’t open to the public till 4 pm. She let me know I was welcomed to the gym and could stop by if I liked. I looked at my friend, Hector Limon and asked him if he was up for a 1.5 hour drive to Oxnard. He responded, “Yeah, I’m down!”

We made it to Oxnard in less than 2 hours, surprised by the lack of Los Angeles traffic (Shocker!). As we pulled up, the gym appeared to be super quiet and actually dead. We walked around and took pictures. I walked up to a dog training business and asked a man there if he knew what time the gym opened. “Oh, that gym? It went out of business. Robert relocated down the street (points at another building).” It took me a minute to realize that the man meant that Robert out grew his old gym and relocated to a larger space. I thanked the man and we made our way down the street.

Image

We pulled up to the new spot and there was definitely more life and energy here. A couple of BMW’s, Mercedes and Audi’s parked outside gave us a sense that there were some pros in the building. We walked in and were greeted by a young girl at the front desk.

Image

“How you doing? Are there any rules for the gym?” I asked her.

“No, you can go inside if you like.” She replied.

I looked inside the gym and saw a man in red shorts, white t-shirt and mits. “Is that Robert Garcia in the ring?” I asked her.

“YEAH, THATS MY DAD!” She replied with joy.

Shortly after, Robert Garcia’s wife comes out of an office space and lets us know it is totally fine to enter the gym and take pictures after Robert is done working with his fighters. We walked in and stood next to the ring to observe Robert Garcia doing work with none other than the Mexican Russian, Evgeny Gradovich. Robert finished a set of mits with Evgeny and came over to the ropes closest to us to greet us. Asked us where we were from and that we were more than welcome to take pictures of him working.

Image

At that point I was more comfortable walking around the gym and began to explore. At the opposite ring was middleweight contender, Marco Antonio Rubio from Torreon, Mexico. At the end of his training session, I was able to briefly talk with Marco. I let him know that he did a hell of a job against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr back in 2012 and that the extra weight Chavez Jr walked in with was not just. The humble warrior that Marco is responded by saying it was a good fight, but Chavez Jr beat me that night. We took a picture together and he went back to packing up his bag as he was done training for the day.

ImageRobert finished his work with the Mexican Russian and came down to talk with me and Hector. I kid you not, we spent the next 1.5 hours talking about boxing politics, upcoming fights, dream fights, and promotion companies. The one thing I brought up was the claim that Victor Ortiz made about Robert taking him out to party at 2am the week of his fights. Every claim and story has two sides and I wanted to hear Roberts. He shared multiple examples of  inconsistencies in Victor’s hardship story as well as how Victor tried to ruin Robert’s reputation in Oxnard. As I suspected, Victor is a victim of media manipulation, taking his story and identity, twisting it and forcing Victor to uphold false stories that the media has created on his behalf. Put lightly, as a result of Victor’s actions, Robert lost a city job at La Colonia Gym and in a near by school where he worked with youth. A blessing in disguise however, as that struggle allowed Robert to open up his own gym. A gym that to this day has been nothing short of successful.

As we continued talking, Elie Seckbach showed up to the gym. For those who don’t know Elie, he is an unconventional and fun reporter who has been following boxing for many years and does great video work. He is the creator of the Robert Garcia Documentary series and is at every boxing match you can think of.

Robert and I started talking about Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. He shared with us that there is a possibility that he may train Chavez Jr in the future. Robert strongly feels that if they work together, 2-3 fights down the line, Chavez Jr can beat Gennady Golovkin (GGG). Knowing that Chavez Jr likes to train in the evenings, Robert converted a second floor space in his gym into a new training space. Robert walked us up there and showed us the brand new ring that would be used for evening workouts as the first floor is reserved for the youth. To me, this was a strong sign that Robert and Chavez Jr might be closer to working together than many currently think.

Image

We continued our conversation on the second floor gym space and then Elie Seckbach joined us. He asked if I could help him out with a Q & A segment for his reporting. I agreed and here it is:

I was very impressed with my experience at the gym. Not only was I impressed with how hard the Mexican Russian and Marco A Rubio were training, but I was highly impressed with the vibe and energy in that gym. As a fan and blogger of boxing, I felt like family walking into that gym. Robert had no hesitation in talking to me like his equal. We talked boxing and laughed like we had known each other for years. I let Robert know that one thing I have noticed about him that separates him from all other trainers is his ability to connect with his fighters. In other words, the way he speaks to Brandon is different than how he connects with Nonito and with his brother Mikey Garcia. Robert appreciated the love and said that the reason it works out that way is that he has a strong bond with his fighters beyond the professional relationship. From joking around to breaking bread together, Robert Garcia does an outstanding job being a holistic trainer that takes a personalized approach to a professional business.

For those reading this blog, if you have an opportunity to carve out half a day in your schedule, visit this gym. You will not simply visit a gym, you will have an experience at the gym. Enjoy the pictures below of the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy.

ImageImageImageImage