The career of Quirino Garcia – a loser who broke the mold, began as a nightmare before ending as a champion just short of world title glory.
Boxing needs many things. It needs promoters, managers, trainers and of course, boxers.
Big names, big winners, big earners.
Boxers whose ring walks are accompanied by flashing lights and a cacophony of ear-splitting music and on whom the sports showers praise and awards.
There is another group that boxing cannot function without. One over-shadowed and often over-looked, mere bit players like extras in a mega movie with a part to play a part without fanfares, riches, or award just pain and sometimes derision. Boxing needs losers.
Losers come in all shapes, sizes, and types. Some will be former top-line boxers on the slide, some will of being limited ability who might have a 30/70 record. Some will be out and out losers who should really try another profession and probably would if they could.
Promoters need losers to build their future attractions, but they need to find a balance. They want their man to win. Ideally, they want him to have fights that allow him to grow as a boxer, but winning is the main thrust. They want an opponent who will not threaten the precious “0” in their boxer’s record, and if that loser can lose and entertain and give his man a few rounds of work, that’s a bonus.
Based in Spain, a group of Nicaraguan boxers get regular work in Britain and elsewhere in Europe. Apart from not being expensive, their attraction is that they have enough ability to go the distance but not to be a threat. Two examples are middleweight Geiboord Omier with a 4-50-1 record, but only 8 inside the distance losses, and Edwin Tellez, who has lost 61 of his 79 fights but only six of those losses have been by KO/TKO.
That’s the “acceptable” face of losers. Unfortunately, there is another category of losers those who are horror stories such as Dominicans Juan Ramon Santos 0-25 (24 losses by KO/TKO), Elias Polanco 0-18 (15 losses by KO/TKO), and Ghanaians Francis Mensah 4-30-1(30 losses by KO/TKO), Emmanuel Odoi 4-37(33 losses by KO/TKO) and John Dugu 5-23 (21 losses by KO/TKO). There are too many like that in the sport.
If there is one certain thing, it is that anyone who starts his career with a whole pile of losses will only get worse-or will he?
There has been one loser who has broken that mold. Let me introduce you to Mexican Jose Quirino Garcia.
Garcia was born in Ciudad Juarez and lived there all of his life. He was 21 before he decided to make some money as a boxer.
He had his first bout across the border in Tucson, Arizona, in April 1990 and was stopped in four rounds by novice Bobby Gunn. Both weighed inside the light-middleweight poundage.
Gunn would be stopped inside a round by Enzo Maccarinelli for the WBO cruiser title and lose to Tomasz Adamek in a challenge for the IBF cruiser title.
Back in Ciudad Juarez, Garcia was stopped and then knocked in four rounds by Raul Gonzalez and lost a four-round decision again in Tucson, ending his first year as a professional with a 0-4 record with 3 losses by KO/TKO.
Things did not improve in 1991 as he had five fights in the USA and lost them all. Amongst the fighters he lost to that year were Paul Vaden, who would win the IBF super welter title, and Tim Littles, who fought for the IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles.
The other three fighters who beat him in 1991 were novices with only three fights between him. So Garcia was 0-9 with 4 losses by KO/TKO.
There were four more losses in 1992, with Garcia building future IBO champion Lonnie Beasley and Billy Lewis. He took what job he could get as he weighed 154lbs for the Beasley fight and 168lbs when being stopped in 56 seconds by Daniel Perez in what was supposed to be his first ten round fight in September.
It was the same again in 1993, a year that began with his second consecutive first round defeat followed by losses to two novices with only five fights between them and a loss to substitute Dominick Carter.
Quirino’s record was now 0-17. It was not just that he had lost 17 fights, but in those that had gone the distance, he had lost almost every round of every fight. His friends considered him mad for taking beatings for a living.
His first fight in 1994 saw him lose over ten rounds against 28-0-1 Chad Parker, and then he was matched in September with Norberto Bueno, who had been in with fighters such as Marlon Starling and Darrin Van Horn and had won his last seven fights.
In Bueno’s home territory of Mexico City and over the first three rounds, it was on its way to becoming loss No 19 in a row for Garcia.
From the fourth, Bueno started to tire, and Garcia sensed the possibility of actually winning a fight, and he turned things around and stopped Bueno in the sixth.
In itself, that win was hardly the maker of legends, but it was the start of one of the most remarkable career reversals in boxing history. Garcia won his next four-fight by KO/TKO and then drew with Eduard Gutierrez for the Mexican middleweight title in October 1995.
He won the title in December that year with a third-round kayo of former WBC welterweight champion Jorge Vaca.
By the end of 1995, he was on an unbeaten string of seven fights, and in 1996, he scored five more wins, including inside the distance victories over Gutierrez and Vaca again.
In 1997 he outpointed experienced Terrence Alli to win the WBC International title. Still, the run came to an end when he was stopped on a cut against Rene Herrera, which cost him his WBC International title. Garcia protested the decision successfully and was re-instated as champion and knocked Herrera out in four-round in November 1997.
Garcia had gone from 0-18 to 16-1-1. Remarkable, but the best was yet to come. In 1998 Garcia scored five wins, then started 1999 with wins over former world champions Meldrick Taylor and Simon Brown.
There was a bump in the road in the shape of an inside the distance loss to Ghanaian Alfred Ankamah where he lost his WBC International title, but he put that right with a stoppage of Ankamah in 2000.
That year, he stopped Buck Smith, meaning he had gone from 0-18-0 to 28-2-1, but he dropped a very close decision to David Reid, who had lost on points to Felix Trinidad in his last fight for the WBA super welterweight title. Reid had won most of the way against Garcia but was gassed by the eighth and floored in the tenth and only just made it to the bell.
He scored another win over a former world champion when he stopped Frankie Randall in 2001. In 2002 won the Mexican middleweight title by stopping Eduardo Gutierrez again but lost to Steve Roberts for the WBFederation world title and Julio Garcia with those two having combined records of 49-1-2.
Now in his 30’s and putting on weight, the best was over for Garcia. He won the Mexican light heavyweight title but was easily beaten by Australian Danny Green and finally retired in 2009.
His final career record of 40-28-4 would hardly be worth a glance, but that disguises going from a perennial no-hoper a loser on his way to boxing oblivion with a 0-18 record of 28-2-1 with wins over four former world champions and stopping the two men who beat him and the one who held him to a draw.
Dean Louis, who gave me some invaluable information for this piece, indicated no secret formula for Garcia’s sudden reversal of his fortunes, no Popeye’s spinach or Superman’s telephone box.
At 5’11,” Garcia was big and strong for his division, and perhaps all he needed was to get one single win to give him the self-belief that took him on his amazing run.
Once a loser-always a loser – no way!
Eric Armit is a contributor to World Boxing News.