The New Head Trainer In Brandon Rios’ Corner
February 12, 2018
Nancy Rodriguez (329 articles)

The New Head Trainer In Brandon Rios’ Corner

As everyone showers over Robert Garcia when it comes to “Bam Bam” Brandon Rios, there is another man in the corner that not many realize is the primary trainer of the former world champion this time around.

Donald Leary was once an amateur boxer himself and was pulled into the training position by Rios. It was the connection, confidence and trust that the 31-year-old Rios had in Leary that started the journey.

“Brandon got me into it. I told him I just wanted to be friends, I didn’t want to get involved with it and he said ‘Nah, you’re getting involved’ and we all started climbing up the ladder,” Leary recalled on the jumpstart with Rios. “I told him ‘I don’t want to ruin your career cause I don’t know anything,’ he was like ‘Nah, bro you been around me long enough, you’re learning, you’re learning.’ And that’s where it happened, but I had to learn quick.”

Leary, who is a quarter Irish and three quarters Mexican, met Brandon at the gym in Oxnard when he would take his son in to train. The two became friends, Brandon moved in with Leary for a couple of years and the journey brought them into a team. At that time, Garcia was the head trainer, and Leary was learning under his belt. “Brandon had brought me in and Robert had needed an assistant and that’s why I had to learn things fast,” said Leary. “It’s been like seven, eight years, and I know what’s going on now. Back then I really didn’t know. “

Leary (Right) sits next to Garcia (Center) while being interviewed. Photo by Luis Mejia/Supreme Boxing.

Rios briefly left Garcia and Leary to start fresh with Ricky Funez at Ten Goose Boxing Gym in Van Nuys, CA. Funez prepared Rios for his comeback fight against Aaron Herrera. The Herrera fight followed after 19-months that Rios decided to take a sit in boxing and stated his retirement at the post press conference after losing to Timothy Bradley via stoppage in Las Vegas. It was the first time Rios had ever been stopped in his professional career. Rios decided to return to his original root after travel took a lot of time away from his family, having to drive from Oxnard to Van Nuys and back. Oxnard was where Rios needed to be.

“Brandon had told Robert and me that he didn’t want to train with Ricky anymore because it was too long of a drive,” said Leary. “So Robert had came over and we had a meeting. He said, ‘Let Donald take care of you, he’s head trained, I’ve taught him everything, he knows what he’s doing.’ He (Rios) wouldn’t have to go back and forth to Riverside all the time.”

It’s been a better journey this time around for the Rios camp. The change was needed and the return has been refreshing. Leary says Brandon is determined and very happy now. “Like I said everything happens for a reason. I missed him, he missed me,” said Leary. “There was a couple of fights that we weren’t in and then we realized we needed each other and I think that played a real big part of it.”

Leary said they didn’t run off what Brandon learned from Funez. They continued on the same roots they’ve done before, but they have bounced back stronger. Rios has a great conditioning coach, Junior, and is in the best shape of his life. His nutritionist, Dave, has helped Rios’ wife, Vicky, keep him on track with his diet and weight.

Team Rios huddle together during Rios’ media workout in Los Angeles. Photo by Decomp/Supreme Boxing.

When Danny Garcia’s name came up, the team knew Rios had to be prepared mentally, remain focused and stay in the best shape. At Rios’ media workout last week in Los Angeles, it was obvious the hard work and dedication that Rios has put in. Everyone knows the caliber of Danny Garcia. They know he is a good fighter, one of the top elite and he isn’t one to slack on. So, they’ve prepared for everything. Rios also sparred with younger boxers that Robert trains in his gym in Riverside, CA. It’s helped him condition and stay on his toes.

“We are preparing for everything. That’s why I watch tapes. I find any flaw we will exploit it,” said Leary. “To be honest they should expect a war. He’s determined to fight. He’s the old Brandon, he’s happy. He wants it. There is more maturity, he wants it.”

Brandon Rios and Danny Garcia will meet in the boxing ring, Saturday, February 17th in a 12-round bout for the final WBC welterweight title eliminator. The bout will be aired on Showtime as the main event live from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The rematch between David Benavidez and Ronald Gavril for Benavidez’s WBC World super middleweight title will be the co-main event. It all starts at 6p PT/9p ET.

Cover Photo by Mikey Williams/Team Rios. Article by Anna Aguilar/Supreme Boxing.



Nancy Rodriguez