Nearly eight years ago, Garcia (12-0, 9 KOs) defected from Cuba to Mexico with fellow boxer Alexei Acosta. Garcia (12-0, 9 KOs), who settled in Cork, Ireland, made his professional debut in 2008. He now lives in Peekskill, New York.
“It was a bigger change when I moved to Ireland than it was six weeks ago when I moved here,” the 28-year-old Garcia explained. “It was a lot harder in Ireland because I didn’t speak a word of English. I learned English from the street, watching TV and reading. It’s not a big change for me to move around because I traveled all over the world when I was a member of the Cuban National Team.”
Garcia hasn’t fought in nearly four years due to previous managerial issues, but his scheduled return is this Saturday night, December 5, against an opponent to be determined in a six-round bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His last fight was a win by eight-round unanimous decision over previously undefeated (12-0) Alexander Johnson on December 30, 2011 in Cabazon, California.
“It wasn’t my decision not to fight the past four years,” Garcia added. “Something happened with my now former manager and promoter. I trained all the time, sparred a lot, and did as much as I could do in the gym. I still had a contract until it expired. I’ve known Kevin for 2-3 years. He asked me why I wasn’t fighting and I told him everything. He said to call him when my contract expired because he wanted to manage me and that’s what I did.
“America offers me a good opportunity, better than England or Ireland, and I’m going to finish my boxing career here. I’m fighting December 5th and taking things step by step. I’m not going to rush. There are a lot of great fighters in the light heavyweight division and I hope to be in the mix next year.”
Garcia’s two fights prior to his last against Johnson were impressive 2010 technical knockouts of former world champion Byron Mitchell (28-6-1) and Jorge Rodriguez Olivera (19-1), respectively, in the second and sixth rounds.
“I left boxing with a bad taste in my mouth but I was looking to get back into boxing,” said Kevin Dever, who co-manages Garcia with Patrick Brown. “I knew him from Ireland and I always wanted to manage this kid. He called to tell me his contract had expired and we worked out a deal that brought him here to live in New York.
“I honestly don’t see any rust watching him spar. I know sparring isn’t fighting but everybody in the gym stops to watch him workout. I honestly think that, once he has some good fights under his belt, he’ll be a top contender in the light heavyweight division. Luis Garcia is the best fighter I’ve ever worked with.”
Garcia, a World Junior Championship gold medalist, defected because he was disillusioned after being denied a spot on the 2008 Cuban Olympic Team, despite him defeating eventual Olympic silver medalist Emelio Correa, Jr. in the Cuban Olympic Qualifier. Correa is the son of 1972 Olympic champion Emelio Correa, Sr., who was still involved in Cuban amateur boxing when his son was selected over Garcia to represent Cuba in the 2008 Olympics. Correa lost in the championship final to James DeGale, the Brit who presently is the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super middleweight titlist.
Not a typical defense-first Cuban boxer, Garcia is known as a crisp puncher that many insiders believed had more upside than any Cuban boxers who’ve defected, outside of Guillermo Rigondeaux and Yuriorkis Gamboa, who both have become multiple-time world champions as professionals.
Garcia is working out of the Be First Boxing in Peekskill and Westchester Boxing Club in White Plains (NY), where he is trained by Nick “Knuckles” Delury and his assistant, former world title challenger Larry Barnes (44-3, 17 KOs). A former No. 1 ranked welterweight contender in the world, Barnes’ only three losses as a pro were to world champions Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Saoul Mamby and Luis Ramon “Yuri Boy” Campas.
“He’s a great kid, very smart and respectful,” Delury commented. “There’s some rust from being off four years, but Luis lives a good, healthy lifestyle and he hasn’t suffered any damage in the ring. He’s 28, educated, and a true gentleman. It’s been a pleasure working with him. Luis is a gifted boxer. He’s extremely exciting to watch and has a perfect blend of offense and defense.”