When I first started to cover boxing, a few rules existed, and my grandfather was still alive as well. Don Chargin and Paco Damian had the best local shows – check. Bruno Escalante was a local superstar – check. Andy Vences’ rise from a club fighter to signed Top Rank fighter was one of legend. Gabriel Flores Jr, Ruben Villa, Brent Venegas III, Eros Correa and Marc Castro were our great amateurs. Herb Stone was the manager who seemingly could get anything done. And Luis Garcia has been present for much of my ride.
There I was, working for very little money at a charter school at one of the last BART stops on the outskirts of San Francisco, and commuting back to Concord, California, four days-a-week. One of the first gyms I got to go to all the time was World-Class Boxing Gym, near 16th Street and Mission BART station, which no longer exists.
Jairo Escobar welcomed me in with open arms. Luis “Vicious” Garcia, when he threw a right hand, it sounded like a .45 caliber gunshot. It's useful to me to recall those humble beginnings, of seeing Casey Morton, Troy King, Bilal Mahasin, and the San Francisco legend himself, Karim Mayfield in the gym. I went to college, but my boxing college was being around the fighters and getting their respect, with or without a credible outlet backing me.
Garcia once was scheduled to fight another great fighter, Rudy Macedo, and I was bummed that I had to go to graduate, and miss it. Minor details, the fight never happened for whatever reason, but I showed up to the event with a sandwich in a brown paper bag. Everyone thought I brought liquor to the event, held at Pacific Ring Sports in the Temescal District in Oakland, California.
Garcia went pro, and learned on the job – a hard worker from a hard city. Richmond, California takes pride in violence, sadly – and it is no wonder that one of the best fighters to ever come out of that city bares the nickname “Vicious.” Garcia signed to a great promoter who no longer puts on shows, in Michael Bazan, who had SquareVision Entertainment, a revolutionary series of fights that saw many of his A-side fighters lose, because he wasn’t scared to match the fighters tough. Garcia was one of them.
After getting a draw with local San Francisco favorite Jonathan Zamudio, who at the time trained at Paul Wade’s 3rd St. Boxing Gym in San Francisco, California, Garcia bounced back. He obtained three wins before getting stopped by one of the legends of the Squarevision Entertainment era of the Bay Area, Eddie Diaz.
Diaz was a fighter with an awful record, a good trainer in Miguel Diaz, and he was unafraid. Referee Dan Stell stopped the bout in the second round and hopes of Garcia’s promise of being the next Marcos Maidana were tempered.
Garcia would train with a good coach in Filemon Contreras for the second half of his pro, after changing coaches from Jairo Escobar, no reason ever given. Garcia would employ his current coach, Kris “Lightning” Lopez at some point, but I can’t remember the exact point. It was controversial at the time, as Lopez is a very technical coach, and Garcia is someone who came into boxing late after some rough teenage years.
The pair would go on to have success– they avenged the Eddie Diaz loss together and defeated Jonathan Zamudio. After the Eddie Diaz fight, Diaz never would fight again. In fact I have never heard about him again, and Garcia would fight in Mexico three times after his 2018 win. At one point rumors of Luis Garica fighting Teofimo Lopez were proposed, but never manifested.
Now after three years away from the sport, Garcia is in the ring once again, with his coach, Kris Lopez, by his side. He is facing Danny O’Connor, who is coming off a five-year lay-off and has a story just as compelling story as Garcia's.
Garcia is the clear B-side, he is going to Boston to fight an Irish fighter, who has 33 professional fights and 174 rounds of experience compared to 15 pro fights across 55 rounds, but that is what makes this sport great. People rolling the dice. This is more than likely Garcia’s last chance, and he is stepping up to fight a southpaw on UFC Fight Pass.
I will always remember Garcia. When Fernando Paramo picked me to do commentary for a broadcast for LA TV he was the first main eventer. I also underperformed on the broadcast so much that I didn’t get invited to go to the shows in Oregon, but would be called back to do the Bay Area events. I would like to think like all people in the club shows, by the end I got better, and each every step of the way Garcia was there.
Luis Garcia is the co-main event tonight. Lots of people will look at him as just a name, next to a popular Irish fighter. I look at him as a friend, and a true professional to be respected. Give him a watch.