Trainer happy to hear Pavlik on board

October, 27, 2011
10/27/11
12:47
PM ET
Robert GarciaCraig Bennett/FightWireImages.comRobert Garcia was surprised -- but happy -- to hear the news that he would be training Kelly Pavlik.
While all the limelight (such as it was) shone on Nonito Donaire on Saturday night, the man charged with making the "Filipino Flash" sparkle before the expectant crowd was head trainer Robert Garcia.

But even as Donaire's bout with Omar Narvaez began to sour, the plot thickened for Garcia when it was reported that former middleweight titlist Kelly Pavlik -- who was visiting New York on fight weekend to repair relations with promoter Top Rank and formulate a plan with manager Cameron Dunkin to reinvigorate his career -- would be the newest addition to Garcia's stable.

Strangely enough, this was news to Garcia.

"People have told me that they've been told about this," he said, "but I've still not spoken to his manager or promoter."

Garcia, whose fighters also include lightweight Brandon Rios and top prospect Mikey Garcia, was pleasantly surprised to hear of the development. Speaking from Mexico, where he is training Antonio Margarito for his Dec. 3 bout against Miguel Cotto, Garcia said he is more than happy about the prospect of training Pavlik.

"I'm comfortable with any style," Garcia said. "I'll sit down and study footage of his past few fights. Seeing fights as a fan is different than as a trainer, so I'll watch tapes and see what I can do."

Pavlik, a former champion who has had a well-publicized struggle with alcohol, is looking to move away from his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, where he has admitted there are too many distractions. Garcia, who is renowned for his tough regimen, speculated on how Pavlik may find his training camps.

"We'll find out if he can handle it. He might not like it," Garcia said. "But my gym is fun and I'm sure he'll enjoy it. Look at our fighters -- Brandon, Mikey. Everyone figures that we're doing something right. We win fights, and that's something that captures the attention of other guys."

Nothing flashy, please


Given boxing's recent bevy of overly respectful hugging, legal sucker-punching and shoulder-dislodging throwdowns, fans were hoping for an increasingly rare cherry when Donaire and Narvaez met Saturday in the Theater at Madison Square Garden on HBO's "Boxing After Dark." Going in, Donaire was commonly regarded as the No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and the experienced Narvaez was an unbeaten champion. What could go wrong?

So of course, the thousands in attendance who were excited for a slugfest were forced to endure 12 rounds of Donaire stalking Narvaez to no avail. Narvaez's highest CompuBox connect percentage during the fight was a very respectable 38 percent. That sounds pretty good, except it came on a grand total of 13 punches. The bantamweight average for punches thrown per round is 60; Narvaez averaged 24. Narvaez came to move, slide, duck and weave for 12 rounds -- anything but try to actively win. He lost unanimously, and so did boxing fans. Again.

Make no mistake, though: Although Narvaez shoulders the blame for making life difficult for Donaire (and for those in attendance), Donaire isn't completely without fault. It was far from a stellar performance for Donaire, who utterly failed to unlock the unwilling Argentinian Rubik's cube.

On the plus side, we got to see a Manny Pacquiao impostor fool and pump up the crowd. We also got a great set of national anthems. Silver linings, eh?

Just being 'Iron'-ic?


During the announcement of their heavyweight title bout scheduled for Dec. 10 in Dusseldorf, Germany, Wladimir Klitschko had this to say of opponent Jean-Marc Mormeck: "I would compare him to Mike Tyson."

Fighters and promoters sometimes have to say some outlandish things to sell fights, but this is pretty amusing even by boxing's standards. Jean-Marc Mormeck was a very good cruiserweight. And now he is a chronically inactive former cruiserweight who has tried his luck, and found none, at heavyweight.

The Klitschko brothers recently have followed a very clear pattern of fighting cruiserweights who have stepped up to heavyweight. But at least David Haye and Tomasz Adamek were credible foes.

Johnson an old (and good) pro


"I don't plan on returning to 175 anytime soon." Glen Johnson recently told BoxingScene. "I'm going to stay at 168 for a while; 168 has a lot of life right now, and there are a lot of good fights for me."

How utterly remarkable is Johnson? One of the nicest fighters you could ever meet spent nearly a decade toiling at light heavyweight before inexplicably breathing life into his career by cutting weight and now, at age 42, is scheduled to face Lucian Bute in Quebec City on Nov. 5 with a super middleweight title on the line.

Johnson has career defeats to Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson, along with victories over Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver. While Hopkins is the original Peter Pan of boxing, Johnson deserves a share of recognition for proving that professionalism and determination can keep opponents and Father Time at bay.

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