Two days before he was supposed to fight Shawn Porter in March, Roberto Garcia sat at a press roundtable in Southern California slumped in his chair, baseball hat pulled low over his eyes, fleece zipped up around his neck despite the moderate spring temperatures.
He looked drawn. He barely moved. It wasn’t a surprise at the next day’s weigh-in that Garcia had to pull out, stuck in the hospital suffering from an excess of vitamin B complex, administered repeatedly by an overzealous coach. Turns out doctors should oversee injections. Who knew?
A little more than a month later he was back in the ring against James Stevenson, slugging it out. A nasty uppercut put Garcia on the deck in the first round, but he quickly found his legs and took control of the fight en route to winning an eight-round unanimous decision.
“That was a quick-fix fight,” Garcia said. “I wasn’t in the best shape of my life. I just got out of the hospital. I was home for two weeks, and real quick I came to New Jersey for 23 days to train real quick and spar real quick. It wasn’t like a real camp or anything. It was just ‘let’s get a fight in.’ Even like that, for a quick little 23 days of training, we fought a guy who was 22-1 with 15 knockouts. That’s not a tuneup.”
Now, when Roberto Garcia (37-3, 23 KOs) takes on Errol Spence Jr. (16-0, 13 KOs) on June 20 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, which will air live on NBC (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT), he’ll be coming in with a full camp under his belt.
This matchup is the toughest fight of Spence’s young career, but it just might also be the stiffest competition Garcia has faced since a 2010 loss to Antonio Margarito. Not that Garcia minds.
“Nothing changes,” he said. “I always get fights like this. They don’t give me no cupcakes. I don’t have a problem with that. This is good. I feel I need this kind of fight. These types of fights are what I need. I need big fights, big wins. A big solid win over a guy like Spence is exactly what we need.”
Good thing, then, that Garcia, 35, is getting in a full camp this time as he prepares to face a man 10 years his junior. With age, though, comes experience, and the steady knowledge that you know there are things out there you don’t know—instead of ignoring that truth thanks to the chesty confidence of youth. Just your classic known unknown against the unknown unknown, to get Rumsfeldian with it.
“I like the fact that I’m polishing up in camp,” Garcia said. “We’re working on things. Not just working hard, but working smart. I’m still learning as we speak. I’m still trying to move forward in life and in my style as a fighter.”
For up-to-the-minute coverage of Spence vs Garcia, follow along at our fight page.