Wednesday August 17th, 2011

VENTURA, Calif. -- Trainers have become big in boxing. In the U.S., Freddie Roach is nearly as recognizable as Manny Pacquiao. Emanuel Steward has parlayed his success as a cornerman into a cushy job as a commentator for HBO. Teddy Atlas, Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Ronnie Shields have seen their profiles grow as a result of expanding online and video coverage.

Danny Garcia? He's as anonymous as a caller on a 900 number. Victor Ortiz isn't Garcia's best fighter -- he's his only fighter. It's all he can handle, really. Unlike most high-level trainers, Garcia has a day job. Five days a week he hauls pallets of Coca-Cola products around Ventura County. His day starts at 4 in the morning and ends in the early afternoon. When he's finished he hustles to the gym, where Ortiz is stretched out and ready to work.

It's not the perfect system. Ideally, Ortiz would run in the morning, train in the early afternoon and take the rest of the day to recuperate. Ortiz, though, doesn't complain. He wants Garcia. He chose Garcia.

Years ago Ortiz came to California to work with Garcia's brother, Robert, and his father, Eduardo. The relationship worked for a while. Then it didn't. Ortiz chafed at the Garcias' abrasive coaching style and they in turn questioned whether Ortiz had it in him to become a champion.

Danny didn't. From the first day he saw Ortiz, he believed he would become a world champion. He told his father Ortiz would become a champion. He told his brother. He told his wife, his friends and his co-workers. So when Ortiz asked Danny to be his full-time trainer, he jumped at the chance.

The decision came with a price. A big one. The relationship between Ortiz, Robert and Eduardo was fractured beyond repair. Robert and Eduardo wanted Ortiz gone. Danny refused. Eduardo didn't speak to Danny for more than a year after that. Robert still doesn't. It has been two-and-a-half years since the brothers last spoke. They are next-door neighbors in Oxnard. They have barbecues and watch their kids play in the backyard.

But they don't talk.

Ever.

Ask Danny Garcia about Ortiz and his eyes light up. Ask him about his brother and the sadness is splashed all over his face. See, Garcia is a simple man. He goes to work, he trains his fighter and he goes home to spend time with his wife, a woman he says, with unquestionable authenticity, that he loves more today than the day they were married more than 20 years ago. His biggest goal in life is to see all four of his kids go to college. His oldest, Danny Jr., is about to start law school. His daughter, Yanelye, is going into her freshman year at a local college. His son Manuel and daughter Edith are in high school and, says Garcia, "are very smart."

He is proud that he can help them do something he never could. Boxing has always been in Garcia's blood. He took up the sport at 13, had 18 pro fights and quit when he decided he wasn't going to have much of a future in it. He worked the night shift as a loader at Pepsi before his job at Coke, and helped his brother and father out at the gym when he could find the time.

He remained loyal to Ortiz, a kid who has not seen much loyalty in his life. He helped him win the welterweight title from Andre Berto last April, and now is charged with devising a strategy to beat the unbeaten Mayweather.

But he misses his brother. He says it. His face says it. All those times he has looked across the yard at his brother and his family have worn on him. According to a family friend, Danny recently walked over to Robert's yard and offered his hand. Robert refused.

"I feel pretty bad," Danny said. "I feel bad because I love him. I love my brother. I'm eight years older than him. I hope we can talk. I hope one day we can get together again."

Perhaps they will. In interviews, Robert has expressed no animosity towards his brother. Danny feels the same way. They have just reached a stalemate. Danny didn't want a fighter to come between them. But his belief in Ortiz has been validated. And if Ortiz can find a way to beat Mayweather, Danny hopes his brother will be around to help him celebrate.

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