Personal? Now it is!
Story & photos by Chris Cozzone
Longtime Durango, Colo. veteran Elco “The Animal” Garcia considered his fight with Joe “Ironman” Gomez, of Bloomfield, N.M., “just another fight.”
Until heard about Gomez’s account of a sparring session two years ago.
“He’s telling people that he dropped me?” spat an sizzling Garcia, usually calm, always humble.
“That’s a big, big, big lie. He never dropped me . . . Those sparring sessions, all he ever did was run and run and run. He never hurt me. Never.
“Now, I can’t wait to fight Saturday. Now, it’s personal.”
On Saturday, Garcia, 20-7, 9 KOs, will go ten with Gomez, 16-1-1, 8 KOs, in the main event of “Four Corners Showdown!,” at the Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio, Colo.
Both Garcia and Gomez have been the top two draws in the local arena during the past ten years.
“I’m sure he thinks I’m old and washed up,” says Garcia, who’s been fighting since 1997—eight years longer than Gomez, as a pro.
“But Joe, on a scale of one-to-ten on the guys I’ve faced, is a ‘1.’ Who has he fought? Nobody.
“The only guy he ever fought well, he lost to—and that was Vicente Garcia, may he rest up above. They gave him the win but he lost that fight.”
In contrast, Garcia has fought several big names on televised cards—from Vernon Forrest (loss by TKO) to Raul Marquez (loss by KO) to Lajuan Simon (loss by decision.)
“So what if I lost, I’ve fought much better opponents, and it’s going to show Saturday night. This is just another fight for me, and I’m not even nervous about it.
“I’m just peeved that he’s going around telling people he dropped me in sparring. I guess he’s trying to psyche himself up.
“Now, if he drops me, or beats me, Saturday night, wearing smaller gloves, I’ll be the first to shake his hand. But things are going to be interesting now.”
Garcia will be coming off an 11-month layoff, since headlining a Sky Ute card last May.
“Training has been great,” says Garcia. “I’m already on target. I’m sure they think I won’t get to weight, but right when you called, I was weighing myself—I’m 156 right now after a meal.”
Caliber of opposition and weight aside, Garcia’s only concern has been Gomez’s style.
“I just hope I don’t have to chase him all night,” says Garcia. “He has that run-run-run style. If he does that, it won’t be good for the fans.
“If he’s a man, and bangs it out with me, one of us will go down. He knows my style—I never go backward. The question is, will be run all night, or will he stand and fight?
“If he beats me, he’s ready for the next step. If not, there will be question marks about him. We’ll see Saturday night—I can’t wait.”