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.

VIDEO: Strength & Conditioning Changes in Pacquiao Camp


By Rudy Mondragon 

In a recent trip to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of some team changes. As I was talking to some of Manny Paquiao’s fans from Texas, strength and conditioning coach Cecilo Flores walked right by me. I was naturally shocked! This is the man who had been working with Robert Garcia in Oxnard, California. Shocked because I saw him in my last two trips to Garcia’s gym. Is he now working for the rival gym? He sure is.

It all made sense when Cecilio broke it down. The arrival of Alex Ariza in Robert Garcia’s gym meant two strength and conditioning coaches under the same roof. It was time for Cecilio to look for a new challenge and move on. Alex Ariza is the former strength and conditioning coach for Freddie Roach and some of his fighters, including Manny Pacquiao. In a funny way, it was like the gyms traded each other’s strength and conditioning coaches. I’m sure it’s more complex than that as context is every bit important in a situation like this.

Good for Cecilio. He is a stand up guy and a professional. He had nothing but great things to say about Robert Garcia, Garcia’s Boxing Academy, Alex Ariza, and the boxers in that stable. He looked happy, excited, and motivated to work with Freddie Roach and Manny. Blood Money Boxing wishes Cecilio Flores the best of luck in preparing Manny Pacquiao for his upcoming fight and in Cecilio’s future training endeavors. He even gave Blood Money Boxing a quick shout out, check it out here:

PHOTOS: A Day @ Wild Card Gym

Image By Rudy Mondragon 

Every time I visit California, I always make my way to two gyms: Wild Card Gym and Robert Garcia Boxing Academy. I didn’t have much luck with Robert’s gym, as my schedule was crazy and the gym closed before I could make it up. I was able to check out Freddie Roach’s gym, which made for an insightful day.

I called the gym before I made the commute to be sure that Freddie was there and that they Wild Card Gym t-shirts in stock. I was told that Freddie’s presences was not certain, but was assured the gym had plenty of t-shirts. One out of two is not bad. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in the gym and saw Freddie behind the welcome desk.

ImageBusy day at Wild Card Gym 

Freddie and The State of Washington 

I walked up to Freddie and greeted the legendary trainer. He was in a great mood and was more than willing to talk. I told him I was visiting from Seattle, Washington and he was quick to share that he once fought in Lynnwood. I then mentioned  that Greg Haugen is recognized as one of the most famous boxers of the state of Washington, having once fought the great Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. He looked at me and laughed. “I know him,” Freddie said. “He knocked me out once.” We both laughed and continued our conversation.

Miguel Cotto 

I asked him about Miguel Cotto and his thoughts on his upcoming fight. He said Cotto was walking around in a healthy weight and highly motivated for his upcoming fight against Sergio Martinez. Freddie shared that Cotto was out of it mentally in his loss to Austin Trout. That was the last fight Cotto had with Cuban trainer, Pedro Diaz. Cotto then seeked the services of Freddie Roach. I shared that Cotto looked great in his first fight with him, but in all honesty, Delvin Rodriguez was no competition. He was simply a stepping stone and body bag for Cotto to punch out. Roach flipped the script on me and stated that he guided Miguel Cotto to take on an awkward fighter and make easy work of him. To make easy work of an awkward fighter is no easy task, let alone doing it in TKO fashion in 3 rounds.

Great confidence in his ability as a trainer, no doubt. I was curious to hear his thoughts on where Cotto goes after his fight with Sergio Martinez. Roach smiled and said that with a win, a rematch with Floyd Mayweather is definitely possible. Miguel has shared with Roach that he feels he would have beat Floyd had he come in better shape. I agreed to an extentm as I thought  Miguel did a great job imposing his size and using his jab to draw blood on Money May. With Freddie in his corner, a rematch would not only be exciting, but competitive as well.

Amir Khan

I switched up the conversation from Miguel Cotto to Amir Khan. Lately, I have been letting people know that Amir is not the new Victor Ortiz. The guy has heart, passion, skill, speed, technique, and gives fans an exciting show every time he steps in the ring. He does not quit, therefore he is no Victor. He does, however, have a “glass chin”. You can’t train for that. You either have it or you don’t. I shared that with Roach and he agreed. I also asked him what he thought about the lies Amir shared about sparring and taking Andre Ward and Alfredo Angulo’s punches. He laughed and said, “Manny Pacquiao dropped him twice in sparring.” Amir “Glass Chin” Khan has been exposed. Damn.

Manny Pacquiao Contract 

This last piece of information is deep. It is information that will suck for those who want to see Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather. There have been rumors of Manny Pacquiao having resigned from Top Rank. The truth, according to Roach, is that Manny has not signed anything. There is, however, a deal on the table. Roach didn’t share details of that new contract. But think of the possibilities of that deal. If Top Rank and HBO hook up, they can offer Manny Paquiao a deal that tops Floyd’s deal with Showtime. If Manny resigns, the only way he can fight Floyd is if Top Rank allows him to be a free agent to pursue a fight with Floyd. Roach said that Pacquiao can’t run for President for another couple of years, which means that Manny will need to keep fighting to remain in the public eye. Remaining in the spotlight is what politicians do.  Boxing will be Manny’s platform to gain further support for his political endeavors. I just hope his boxing ability does not fade any further. That would be a horrible way to go out of the game.

Last Moment at Wild Card

I decided to stay a bit longer, as I found out that Manny Pacquiao was scheduled to train at 1pm. I chilled and made friends with other fans who came as far as Texas to see Manny. An hour passed and it was close to 2pm and still no Manny. I decided to grab a snack at the convenience store on the other side of Wild Card. I walked over and saw all of Manny’s team inside a Thai restaurant. Buboy Fernandez was there, as well as Manny’s brother and auntie. Michael Koncz was there too. He passed by me while on the phone, probably negotiating a new deal for Manny that would benefit his pockets first and foremost.

Still no Manny. I walked back to the parking lot close to the entrance of the gym. Marie Spivey (Freddie’s X and Gym Manager?) was there, ordering different fighters around in preparation for Manny’s arrival. Media was there waiting. I saw Roger “Speedy” Gonzalez and started talking to him. We talked about his fight against Andrew Cancio and being intentional about his diet. As a result, making weight has been easy for him. For those who don’t know, Speedy is known for having fought Yuriorkis Gamboa and Jhonny Gonzalez.

All of a sudden, Marie asked me if I was media. I let her know, “yeah, I represent an independent blog called Blood Money Boxing.” She then let me know that I could not be there since I was not invited, and that I would have to leave. I didn’t argue with her, I simply asked her if I could stay since I had come down all the way from Seattle. She made an exception and suggested I stay inside the gym and stay out of the invited media’s way.

I was grateful and stayed out of their way. I chilled inside the gym and began conversations with other fighters. Big mistake. Next thing I know, the door to the downstairs private gym closed and I was told Manny Pacquiao had entered the building.

ImageAn unfortunate moment, but a great learning opportunity to not leave my post!  What was also revealing was the magnitude of attention Manny Pacquiao commands. Everyone working at Wild Card was on deck and ready to receive Manny. Everyone that had nothing to do with the gym or Manny was kicked out (except me fortunately). Not in a bad way, but the reality is that Manny attracts vast numbers of fans from all over the world. These types of measures are needed when the king enters his workspace.

*Stay tuned for more stories about my day at the Wild Card Gym*

An Afternoon @ Wild Card Gym

By Rudy Mondragon

I just spent a couple of days in Los Angeles and I could not leave without paying a visit to the world famous Wild Card Boxing Gym. Located off Santa Monica Blvd and Lillian Way in Los Angeles is a second floor space where champions are made and champions train.

After a good 15 minute search for street parking, I finally made my way down Santa Monica Blvd towards Wild Card. I walked through the gate and to my left was Freddie’s signature Mercedes that has been made famous in many HBO 24/7 episodes.


Filled with excitement and hope that Freddie Roach would be present at the gym, I decided to walk the outside of the gym first. This way my excitement and hype would settle down before possibly meeting the world famous trainer. I walked past the famous stairs that Manny Pacquiao has walked up and down during his many training camps as documented by many news sources.


I walked to the front of the property and saw boxers and trainers talking boxing outside. The “1123” building sign that read “Wild Card Boxing Club” right next to the “Grupo Akron AA” sign.  Approaching me was a man who looked like he was on his way to train at Wild Card. I struck a short conversation with him and it turns out I was talking to Super Featherweight boxer, Roger ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez. He let me know that I could walk up to the gym and simply check out the scene.



At this point I was chill and ready to walk into the gym. After many years of learning about the gym via HBO 24/7 episodes and other boxing reporters, I was finally there. I wanted to be respectful of the gym, so I asked the first person I saw about the gym rules. It was none other than Rob Peters. He quickly let me know that no pictures were allowed in the gym. I said I was okay with that and sat down in a near by bench to watch guys train. As I walked to the bench I noticed Michael Farenas had just finished his training for the day and was leaving the gym. I sat down on the bench and looked up to see who was chillin in the front desk. Surrounded by other boxing fans was Freddie Roach himself. He appeared to be very calm and relaxed. Signs of parkinson were absent. A man walked in selling strawberries and Freddie purchased 2 boxes full of fresh berries for those hanging out with him.

I wasn’t sure how to approach Freddie for a picture and short conversation. I decided to buy a Wild Card T-Shirt and go from there. Without hesitation, I asked Freddie if he could sign my shirt and take a picture with me. He happily agreed. As we posed side by side in the hot gym, I wiped the sweat bubbles off my forehead. The man who volunteered to take a picture of us jokingly said, “do you need to comb your hair first before you take a picture with my dad?” Freddie and I laughed together. He thanked me for visiting his gym. We shook hands and I wished him the best with his new trainee, Miguel Cotto.


Freddie is a loved man in that space. As he signed my t-shirt, fans came up to me and asked me if I knew how important that signature was? Respectfully, I let them know that I knew what I was getting. After all, this is the man who once trained (Head and Assistant) the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Chavez Jr., Rigondeaux, B-Hop, Khan, Wladimir Klitschko, Shaq, GSP, Anderson Silva, and many others. Although those were fans were directly talking to me, what they were really doing was indirectly paying their respects to Freddie. That says a lot about the hard work Freddie has put into his career.

In my opinion, it was a quiet day at the gym. Freddie’s top fighters don’t have fights until the fall of 2013. What I experienced at the gym on that day was the opposite of what the place would be like say, 2 weeks prior to a Manny Pacquiao or Miguel Cotto fight. An important question to lookout for is how will Freddie train Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto as their training schedules overlap? Miguel fights in October and Pacquiao fights in November. One fights in Florida while the other fights in China. It will be a balancing act that I am sure Freddie will handle with nothing less than professionalism.

Stay Tuned for my write up on my visit to the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy!