Rafael Garcia, beloved cornerman known for working with Floyd Mayweather Jr., dead at 88

Kevin Iole
Combat columnist
Rafael Garcia (R), shown kissing fighter Jessie Vargas after Vargas won the world title, died Tuesday at 88. (Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS — Rafael Garcia, a long-time trainer, cut man and hand wrapper who became one of boxing’s most beloved figures, died Tuesday at 88.

Garcia is best known for working with Floyd Mayweather Jr. for nearly two decades as a cut man and hand wrapper. Mayweather has credited Garcia with helping to save his career at a time when Mayweather was plagued by hand problems. He hired Garcia to wrap his hands and Mayweather never had issues again.

Garcia, a native of Mexico, spent seven decades in the sport and worked with countless superstars. He was known for his big grin and selfless, caring nature.

“I grew up in this city and for as long as I can remember, Rafael Garcia was one of the prominent faces in town,” said former world champion Ishe Smith, who counts himself among Garcia’s legion of friends. “Before there even was ‘The Money Team,’ before he got all that fame by [working with Mayweather], he was always there helping fighters and was graceful and respectful. He always was supportive of me and my career and he will truly be missed.”

Garcia was former welterweight world champion Jessie Vargas’ godfather. Vargas praised Garcia Tuesday for his compassion, his genteel nature and his humor, but said Garcia made him the fighter he became.

“He had so much to do with me developing and becoming the fighter I am,” Vargas said. “He’s been involved in my career ever since I can remember. He had such much knowledge. He’d been around the sport for decades and he picked up a lot and he shared what he knew. I could sit here for hours telling you the things he taught me about boxing.

“He was a trainer and a father figure to me. I remember after I [defeated Sadam Ali] to win the title, I lifted him up and we celebrated and he later told me that was one of his most special moments.”

Among the other greats that Garcia worked with over the years were Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello, Wilfredo Gomez and, of course, Mayweather.

Garcia was inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame in August.

Arrangements are pending.

Rafael Garcia (second from left) celebrates with Floyd Mayweather in 2015 after Mayweather’s victory over Andre Berto. (Getty Images)

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