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Doghouse Boxing Catches Up with Former Heavyweight Contender Alex Garcia
By Sean Newman (May 7, 2004) 
In 1999, former heavyweight contender Alex Garcia had his last fight….well, sort of. You see, Garcia, though 42 years old now, never really retired from the ring. Not officially, anyway. “I took some time off, I never announced my retirement from anything, especially not from boxing,” Garcia tells Doghouse Boxing. Now Garcia says he wants to return to the ring in hopes that a new lease on boxing can give him what he missed out on in the past.

Garcia had already done a stint in prison before he ever gave much thought to boxing. He names Bobby Chacon as a fighter who he looked up to, but it was not until after his release from the big house that he ever considered boxing as a way to make a living.

“When I got out of jail, I ran into a friend of mine who told me about a gym close to my house,” Garcia remembers. “It was called the Jett Center, and it had kickboxing and boxing. I didn’t know it was a boxing gym, I thought it was a weightlifting gym. I went over there, and that was it. I went in on a Wednesday and the guy there told me if I was serious to be back on Monday. I said, ‘why Monday? I’ll come back tomorrow.’ Until then I had never stepped in a ring before in my life, never put on a boxing glove. My only fights were in the street.”

Apparently, the lessons learned fighting in the streets served Garcia well, as he made a quick and very successful transition to amateur boxing. In his limited experience in the unpaid ranks, Garcia racked up titles in the Silver and Golden Gloves in Los Angeles, before winning the National Championships. He then advanced to the World Championships, where he would lose to the Cuban legend Teofilo Stevenson.

Turning pro in 1987, Garcia got off to a good start, but now says he regrets jumping right into the professional game. “Instead of turning pro in 1987, I should have gone to the Olympics in 1988 because I was a national champion and second in the world amateur rankings,” Garcia says. “Someone should have slapped me around and told me to open my eyes. Don’t turn pro, go to the Olympics. It really puts your name out there.”

After winning his first eight fights, Garcia would suffer his first setback against a nameless fighter. He was undeterred, however, and continued on in the game, showing for the first time the heart that he has shown throughout his career. He went on a tear, knocking out touted white hope Jerry Goff and building a name for himself along the way. He would become a regular on the USA Network’s now defunct “Tuesday Night Fights” series, and was so popular that he was second only to George Foreman and Larry Holmes in terms of television ratings. Asked about his popularity, Garcia responds flatly, “When I fought on USA, I would fight, rather than box and run.”

On his journey to the top of the heavyweight division in the early 1990’s, an era loaded with talent, Garcia won the NABF heavyweight title from Jerry Jones, a fighter who defeated Carl “The Truth” Williams, and stopped trialhorses like Mike Williams, Mike “The Giant” White, and Eric Curry. There was even talk of Garcia becoming the first heavyweight champion of Latino persuasion, and in fact, negotiations were being made for the highly ranked Garcia to fight for the world heavyweight title.

“Becoming the first Latino heavyweight champion was one of my dreams, and I just never got the chance to fight for it,” Garcia laments today. The reason he never got to fight for the title is twofold. One is the oft-repeated story of a manager or promoter screwing over a fighter. “I was offered a fight with Riddick Bowe, and my manager said the fight was for $500,000, and that we should wait until it got to $1 million,” says Garcia. “Little did I know, they were already offering me a million and a half and my manager was trying to get two million, and he was going to get some of the money under the table. If the fight had gone through, he probably would have wound up with more money than me. I found out that because my manager was getting too greedy, so they passed me up.”

Then there was the Mike Dixon fight. Dixon was your basic journeyman, a fighter who was not expected to put up much of a fight, but would give an advancing fighter some much needed rounds of experience. No one, save perhaps for Dixon (and even he might have had doubts), expected anything other than a routine win for Garcia. But then, in the second round of their fight, the wheels came off.

“I just got caught,” says Garcia. “I looked at the tape over and over. I brought my hand up to block the left hook, and it’s like a habit carrying the right hand by your face. When I watched the tape, I noticed that I backed up and my hand, instead of staying where it should have, moved back a few inches toward the back of my head. He caught me right on my temple. I felt the punch, and then I took a couple of steps, and then I felt my legs just go out from under me. It was just one of those punches where he hit the lotto. I figured in the next round I would get him.”

Garcia was then back at square one after the second round knockout loss to Dixon. It was as if the loss had perhaps affected him mentally in subsequent outings, as he never quite seemed the same. Over his next five fights, he would win two, getting a draw with former cruiserweight champ James Warring, losing on another second round knockout to journeyman Garing Lane, and dropping a decision to tough Joe Hipp.

In May 1994, Garcia gained a measure of redemption when he took on Dixon, the man who sent his career into a tailspin, in a rematch in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “In the rematch, I just more or less tried to be careful,” says Garcia. “Once someone stops you, they have that edge over you and they want to try to make it even better the next time. So I just boxed him.” Garcia would win the ten round decision in that fight, but would lose a decision to Buster Mathis, Jr. in 1995 for the USBA heavyweight title.

Following that match, Mathis would go on to fight and be knocked out by Mike Tyson, while Garcia would not lose again, but would have an on-again, off-again career. He took off two and a half years between 1995 and 1997, fought a fight or two, and then took off again for a couple of years before fighting twice more in 1999. Still, Garcia insists that he has not retired and would like to fight again.

“I was still in the gym, and I didn’t have any doubts about it,” says Garcia. “By being in the gym all the time, sometimes you just get totally burned out. I knew I needed a layoff. It just didn’t feel right to get back in there. Different guys wanted to train me but I knew deep inside that it wouldn’t work. I’ve been talking to people in New York to see what kind of shows they are putting on, what kind of club shows. I’m just looking around to see what’s happening, looking for a fight, but nothing hard. I just want to get back in the ring again.”

Garcia, who describes himself today as “one of those fighters who lives out of a suitcase,” says that he is not doing this because of the so-called lack of talent among today’s crop of heavyweights. Further, he says that he would certainly take things one fight at a time to determine how far he will go.

“I would definitely like to get back into the ring. I’m not going to say ‘well, look at the heavyweights out there, they’re not shit.’ They are in the position they are in for a reason,” he explains. “There are a lot of guys out there who are dangerous and can hurt you with one punch. The title changes hands all the time, but these guys did the work, and got there and became champions, so they must be doing something right. Definitely the manager who puts them in position to get the title shot helps, I just wish I had the right people behind me who could have walked me right in the door and gotten that fight. If I had had the right people behind me who could have gotten me a title shot, win or lose, I would have been done with this business already.”

He is not done, however and reflecting on his career to date, Garcia says that there are things that he would change. Once offered a fight with George Foreman, Garcia says, “I would probably have taken the Foreman fight. It would have probably been easier than Riddick Bowe. The Foreman fight would have been great, and the money would have been there. I never looked at the money though, and I always worried just about fighting. But then again, if you beat Foreman, they say you beat an old man, and if you lose to him, they’ll say you’re nothing because you lost to an old man. The Riddick Bowe might have paid more, but at the time I didn’t really think much, I just did my thing in the gym. I let my manager take care of everything, which I wish I had never done since he screwed me all the time. I got tired of all the bullshit. They tell you one thing and then they turn their back on you. But you live with it and go on.”

Asked how he would ultimately like to be remembered once his career is over, Garcia responds that “I had big balls and I come to fight. I would like to be remembered as a good fighter in the ring and a gentleman outside the ring. So many fighters try to act hard and tough, and they’re not too polite to the fans. I’m always just myself outside the ring. I hope that those who remember me will remember me as a good fighter, and as a regular person.”

Whatever happens with Garcia and his boxing career, this fan will always remember him as just that. A good fighter, as well as a gentleman, and one who never got what he truly deserved.

Insert Boxing Cliché Here

Is it any surprise that a certain one-man-show boxing website continues to rub people the wrong way? Doghouse Boxing is not the first competitor that the other website has slung mud at, and almost certainly will not be the last. What is particularly troubling, however, is the other site’s practice of making unwarranted attacks on its own readers and now, apparently, fighters such as WBA Welterweight Champion Jose Antonio Rivera. This is going too far, and all in the name of those beloved website “hits,” which are second to nothing in importance to the other site, including truth, accuracy and integrity. Here at Doghouse Boxing, we treat all of our readers with the respect they deserve, and we never go on a personal tirade against boxers just because they do not wish to enter the ring at a marked physical disadvantage or against a tricky and talented southpaw on short notice. One word best describes the difference between Doghouse Boxing and the other site – class. Doghouse has it, the other does not. Therefore, I, along with the rest of the Doghouse TEAM (a foreign concept to the referenced site), would be best served to waste no more time and space engaging those who are beneath our level of decency to others.
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