By Jason Pribila: Chances are that if you clicked on to this website you are a boxing fan. As a boxing fan, you would also be familiar that the final instructions shouted by a referee prior to a round of boxing action beginning are, “Seconds out!” At this moment, no matter how many people are on a boxer’s team or entourage, the fighters are left alone inside the ring.
While many outlets will use the holiday season to celebrate the best (and worst) of the drama that unfolds inside the ring during the 2017 campaign, this article is an attempt to pay tribute to one of the omnipresent chief seconds that we lost in 2017.
Rafael Garcia, who became best known for working as Floyd Mayweather Jr’s cutman and hand-wrapper, lost his battle with Leukemia in November. Garcia was born in Mexico, but he migrated to Las Vegas where he resided for several decades.
Garcia was the definition of a boxing lifer who worked with such greats as Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello, Wilfredo Gomez, Mayweather, and most recently Jessie Vargas.
Back before Mayweather became “Money” , Garcia was hired to take care of the biggest threat to derail “Pretty Boy’s” career; his own brittle hands. As Mayweather began moving up in weight, many felt that his delicate hands had a better chance of derailing his career than any hand-picked foe he would sign to fight.
Mayweather would often be heard giving credit to Garcia for wrapping his hands in a way that they always felt protected. Soon, Mayweather’s hand issues were in his rearview and rarely if ever discussed again.
The master marketing of the “Money Team” included several platforms that would give boxing fans access to Mayweather and his opponent prior to their bouts. The many pre-fight documentaries aka infomercials would feature the dysfunction of the Mayweather family and most recently the antics of Mayweather’s foe took center stage. However, it was always the presence of the smiling Garcia with his hats full of pins that made Mayweather seem a tad more real than the “TBE” persona he tried to sell.
Welterweight contender, Jessie Vargas was Garcia’s godson. He reported that Garcia’s health began to decline earlier this year when he suffered over 100 stings from a swarm of bees. He stated that Garcia also suffered a heart attack before being diagnosed with Leukemia.
"He was my godfather and he was like a father figure to me," Vargas told ESPN. "He’s been watching my back since as long as I can remember, taking care of me. Every fighter he ever worked with he did his best to make sure they were in top condition and at their best. Once he was with you he never left you.
While many outlets reserve this time of year to look back and celebrate the best and worst of what we witnessed inside the ring. 2017 will also be remembered for how many potential Hall of Famers laced up their gloves for the last time. While we will miss each of those fighters that gave us thrills, we will look forward to the next generation of pugilists that will allow us to get lost in the Sweet Science for hours at a time on Saturday Evenings yet to come.
As we look forward to the next batch of fighters and fights that will earn year-end accolades, we at Secondsout.com would like to thank Rafael Garcia for dedicating his life to ensuring that those fighters enter the ring in the best possible shape physically and mentally. Thus giving the individual fighters and the sport as a whole its best opportunity to thrive and inspire.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. He may also be followed on twitter.com @PribsBoxing