Roberto Garcia has worked as a sparring partner for Shawn Porter, and he considers the former 147-pound champion a friend. But all that has been put aside as Garcia prepares to fight Porter in Ontario, California, on Friday night.
Garcia (36-3, 23 KOs) will face Porter (24-1-1, 15 KOs) at Citizens Business Bank Arena in the debut of the Premier Boxing Champions series on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
The two men first met at the Wild Card Boxing gym in Hollywood, California, owned by trainer Freddie Roach. Porter sparred with Garcia before winning a unanimous decision over former titleholder Julio Diaz in September 2013, and again before his loss to Kell Brook last August.
"Shawn and I have been sparring together, but I've been boxing him as a friend. On Friday, I'm not going to get in there as his friend,” said Garcia, who turns 35 years old on March 26. “I don't even know him anymore. He's just another guy in front of me that I've got to take care of, and I'm going in there to do my job and to make it better for my family."
Porter, 27, dismissed any concerns over Garcia's familiarity with him.
"I don't count rounds. It was quick experience, and it was good experience, but it's time to get in there and take care of the real business. It's as simple as that," Porter said. "I'm familiar with him and I expect him to treat this fight as if this is the biggest fight of his life, but we treat every fight like it's the biggest fight of my life."
Porter became a world champion by defeating Devon Alexander in December 2013, and he defended his title with a fourth-round technical knockout of Paulie Malignaggi last April before suffering his first professional loss against Brook.
Porter said he would use his familiarity with Garcia to his advantage Friday night.
"He's a brawler. He's a tough fighter. He's a hard-nosed competitor, and we know that and we're prepared for that. We can bang, but we can also box. I'm a very versatile fighter, and in this fight, you will see some different things," Porter said.
"There's going to be a lot of fast stuff, and a lot of quick stuff and a lot of powerful stuff. You're going to get it all from 'Showtime' Shawn Porter for this fight."
A winner of eight straight fights who has competed from 147 to 160 pounds, Garcia is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Breidis Prescott in July. He last suffered defeat by unanimous decision to former titleholder Antonio Margarito at 154 pounds in May 2010.
Garcia fought three times in 2014, including February 7, when he earned a split-decision victory at 158 pounds over Norberto Gonzalez on 12 days’ notice.
"Members of my team, we know how to move like Shawn and to imitate Shawn. We know exactly who Shawn is. He's a good fighter, don't get me wrong, but at this level, everything is competitive," Garcia said.
"He's never fought a guy like me. I've fought a variety of styles. I'm happy that they made this fight. We've wanted this for a long time. It's a big thing that I'm fighting a known guy like Shawn Porter. Afterward, they'll say, 'That's the guy that beat Shawn Porter.' We're just counting the days."