“It Does Raise A Lot of Red Flags.” Carlos Molina’s Strength & Conditioning Coach Luis Garcia Talks PEDs
Luis Garcia is the strength and conditioning coach of undefeated Carlos Molina (17-0-1, 7KOs), who takes on former world champion Amir Khan (26-3, 18KOs) in a 12 round junior welterweight clash next week Dec. 15 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, in Los Angeles, CA, broadcast live on SHOWTIME at 7:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. ET.
Luis was a guest this past Thursday on Leave it in the RinG Radio with hosts David Duenez and Gabriel Montoya, to discuss Molina-Khan, strength and conditioning, and the controversy surrounding PEDs in the sport of boxing.
Strength and conditioning coaches have got a lot of attention lately leading up to the Pacquiao-Marquez IV clash, as both men’s S&C coaches have experienced controversy in terms of performance enhancing drugs. The volatile Alex Ariza is Manny Pacquiao’s S&C coach, and after Pacquiao bulked up significantly and started moving up weight classes, blasting out each one’s top fighters, like Ricky Hatton, Oscar De la Hoya and Miguel Cotto, many wondered if everything Ariza was doing for Pacquiao was above board.
After Juan Manuel Marquez felt he got a couple raw deals in two contest with Pacquiao, neither of which went his way, Juan hired the services of S&C coach Angel “Memo” Hernandez, who was formerly known as Angel “Memo” Heredia. The same Memo Heredia that turned states witness in the US government’s 2008 case against Trevor Graham, in connection with the BALCO scandal. Angel admitted to supplying his athletes, like Olympian track star Marion Jones, and several others, with PEDs, in return for leniency during his judicial process.
Marquez brought on Memo for his third fight with Pacman, and Juan bulked up significantly, while also looking cut-to-the-core. There were concerns that because Juan was working with Memo, and his physique had noticeably changed for the bigger, maybe it needed to be looked into. Pacquiao won that third fight by controversial split decision — this writer thought Juan gave Manny a boxing lesson — but didn’t really seem to hurt Manny in a way that would raise concerns. This past Saturday night Pacquiao and Marquez got down for a fourth time and leading into the bout Juan looked that much bigger and trimmer than even his third fight with Pacquiao, raising eyebrows. Saturday night, Juan’s punches definitely seemed to have more effect on the Filipino icon, as he dropped Pacquiao — for the first time ever — hard in the 3rd round, and finished him off with a devastating right hand in the 6th that Pacman walked right into, sending him to the canvas face first, completely unconscious. Pacquaio has always shown a great chin and hadn’t been seriously hurt in many moons before Marquez whacked him out of there.
Not to say Marquez did anything wrong, he’s a legend with impeccable skills, who has always dedicated himself to the most stringent of physical conditioning regimens and hard work. Taking nothing away from Marquez, that might very well be why we saw what we saw Saturday night. The unforgettable image of the Pacman completely stretched out on the canvas, face down, and out. In was a tremendous performance in the legendary career of Juan Manuel Marquez. A brilliant tactician and ultimate Mexican warrior.
The story of Memo has been well documented and if you’d like to read more on it — as well as the PED controversy in general — I suggest this MaxBoxing Gabriel Montoya piece.
As well as this two-part story from Thomas Hauser.
Neither Alex Ariza, or Memo Hernandez have been found to be doing anything illegal with their clients Pacquiao, and Marquez, respectively.
Times have changed in boxing and S&C coaches offer a lot of positive advantages in terms of getting an athlete in peak condition with cutting edge training techniques, and guiding proper nutrition. On the other hand, many of these guys have chemistry backgrounds with the knowledge and ability to provide undetectable substances to their clients, that the drug testing agencies cannot detect. As goes with anything in life, with the good, comes the bad. While there are many S&C coaches out there conducting themselves like professionals and going about their business on the up-and-up, you’ll always have a few bad apples, which upset the cart full of good ones.
Here are the quotes from Thursday’s show between Dave, Gabe, and strength and conditioning coach Luis Garcia — who also works with undefeated WBC super bantamweight champion Abner Mares.
Garcia: “I couldn’t have asked for better. I think Carlos has definitely grown these last two camps, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with him these last few fights. In the first fight… thank God we had an opportunity to do so, I really have to just thank Frank Espinoza and Frankie Espinoza Jr. for buying into that idea that some of these fighters need some help, and really need to take it up a notch, and go to their extra level. Its professionalism more than anything else, and I think the first fight that Carlos and I did, was setting some of the ground work for this fight. And luckily it all came to fruition when Amir Khan took the fight with Carlos. And I’m going to tell him, it was a big mistake because… Carlos, after that, not only did he have the support from his team, [Frank], but also myself. [It's been] taken to a different level.”
“Everybody is really underestimating Carlos, and I do not think that Amir Khan, in his mind, is fighting Carlos Molina. I think in his own mind he’s fighting himself. He’s fighting his own doubts. Doubts about, will his chin hold up to the task? Will he be able to make the changes necessary to fight at this level? I mean, there’s no doubt that he can produce in spots for a certain period of time in any fight, [but] can he fight at a high level? Can he make it a consistent thing? And honestly, I think that in any thing we do, there’s a point where we question what we’re capable of or not, and [Amir's] trying to answer those questions. He’s fighting two people in the ring, himself, and Carlos. And let me tell you, you guys have never seen Carlos in great shape. I don’t think you guys have seen even half of what Carlos can do. But I’m telling you, this guy’s going to be another boxing star.”
HIS THOUGHTS ON ALEX ARIZA & MEMO HERNANDEZ, THE PED CONTROVERSY, AND WHETHER IT HURTS HIS BUSINESS AS A PROFESSIONAL
Garcia: “They both come from different backgrounds. I don’t mean to downplay any one of them, because I can’t say that I know them personally, or know them well. I don’t think they speak anything good about the sport, in the sense that they do not bring anything to the table [that's] positive. I’m not going to accuse Memo blatantly of cheating in the sport of boxing, but , I mean, he’s done it before, and what’s going to stop him from doing it again. I was reading an article on… LA Times, saying that he still [advises] people on PEDs, but just won’t in the US. My first thought was that, that was kind of funny because Marquez didn’t train in the US, first of all. And second of all, if that’s your mind set, and that’s your comfort level with it, just desensitized to the fact of the matter that, on any level, [using] performance enhancing drugs is cheating. And what does that say about you? And why would you do that? At the end of the day I think it’s an ego thing. To consistently raise your arms in victory, and be okay with the fact that it wasn’t a legitimate victory. Who are you fooling but yourself? And what you’re doing to the sport is not good.”
“Alex Ariza on the other hand, I think… um, nothing’s been proven to say that him and Manny have cheated. And obviously [with] Memo and Marquez, we can’t prove that they’ve cheated, and used drugs or what not. It’s all speculation at this point. But I think that just overall conduct, in the sport, I don’t think they bring anything good to whatever it is I do, and it’s sad.”
David Duenez: “Freddie Roach, we had him on last week, and he didn’t say… because he doesn’t want to get sued or anything like that, but you could almost hear between [his] sentences, that he was really just in regret of allowing this guy [Ariza] to come into camp. And [Freddie] threw it out there that strength and conditioning coaches, they’re the ones that brought drugs to the sport. And at the same time I thought, wow, that really sucks because there are really good guys, like Darryl Hudson and yourself, that do not do that, and bring a lot of good to the sport.”
WHETHER HE THINKS THE SIZE THAT MARQUEZ PUT ON, IN THE QUICK TIME PERIOD THAT HE DID SO, AT HIS AGE, SHOULD BE QUESTIONED?
Garcia: “Yes, definitely. Yes, yes and yes. You hit on some key points. It’s a natural thing aging. When you age, one of the main factors is a difference in [the] hormone levels your body does produce, [with] that being directly related to your muscular skeletal system and everything else. It has to do with recovery… a lot of that is hormone based. So yes, of course, later on in life, to get that much better, definitely has to raise questions. Even if you just look at the 24/7 [Pacquiao-Marquez series] there was a really important small comment, that maybe a lot of people didn’t catch, within what Nacho Beristain [Marquez trainer] said. He said, ‘this time when Marquez came into camp, he came into camp very explosive. He had this strength and explosiveness like I’ve never seen before. And you know, and for those that don’t know, especially in the sport of boxing, you would use PEDs in the off-season when nobody’s looking, and do all that ground work before you even signed that fight. And then you have those two or three months of training, then you would have your eight week training — your boxing training. So if he’s [Marquez] coming into training this way… because they know that these questions will be raised, obviously they could have used before. So yes, you could say that it does raise a lot of red flags, whether it’s true or not, or [whether] they’re really that great at what they do. But honestly… genetically, naturally, it’s not… I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, but pretty close to impossible.”
“And now they’re [Marquez camp] talking about [Marquez] possibly retiring after this fight win or lose. Well, yeah, of course, because now they’re watching [Marquez] next time around. You think that they’re going to give him the leeway of saying, ‘you just beat up on Pacquiao by this wide margin, you knocked him out, or something happened in the fight, which you looked so great.’ Would they then allow you to just fight any other fighter and not be tested ahead of time? Of course not.”
Writers note: This interview was conducted before Saturday’s Pacquiao-Marquez IV
Gabriel Montoya: “I have so much respect for Marquez, I don’t want that [PED rumors] to be true.”
“This isn’t so much a question as an observation… A lot of these guys, the people that either took drugs, or didn’t take drugs; they all said the same thing. They felt pressured to because that was the norm, that’s what the level playing field really is. That everybody else is out there… the majority of them [are] not on the level. And the guys that want to go to the next level, have to make that decision, am I going to be clean, or am I going to be dirty? Now for you as a strength coach, do you just not subscribe to that?… And that there are natural ways out there to boost your testosterone, and to do all these things, and compete at that high level naturally?”
Garcia: “Yes definitely. I mean, it’s difficult to say that if everybody is on something, and you’re not… I mean to compete it will be difficult, but I think there’s a lot of ways of doing it. You can be a better fighter, and a smarter fighter. You still have the ability to win. [And] as I’ve said time and time again, I want to continue to [be in] this sport and I would never do anything to taint the sport of boxing.
“These guys are putting their lives on the line, and [PEDs] is just not something I’m for.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Esteban Walters is a deadline writer for “Leave it in the RinG” and journalist for Undisputed Fight Magazine . A Native San Dieg0 California and an Aspiring novelist . Walters enjoys studying politics, history and astronomy . A Die-hard boxing fan since witnessing Mike Tyson knockout Michael Spinks in 88′ and Die-hard San Diego Chargers fan ! Walter also likes following MMA, fishing, snowboarding, playing horse-shoes and spending time with my family, friends and pit-bulls.
Goals: Care for my loved one’s, do my part to enhance the sport of boxing, travel the world, assists children and the less fortunate, and contribute to making the earth a better place.