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Garcia Makes Home (Away from Home) Debut

(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
(Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)

By Bill Tibbs


When Danny “Swift” Garcia makes the fourth defense of his World Boxing Association (WBA) “super” and World Boxing Council (WBC) world junior welterweight titles this weekend, it won’t be a home game for the unbeaten champion but it certainly will be a homecoming.
 
Philadelphia-born and raised Garcia is proudly Puerto Rican as both parents were born on the island. Garcia has always thanked and praised his “P.R.” fan base and the champion is excited to finally fight live in front of his supporters on the beautiful Caribbean island. One would assume a date in the “City of Brotherly Love” might have been his first choice but if that couldn’t be made, the hard-hitting champion seems more than happy to fight in Puerto Rico. This weekend, “Swift” will take on California-based challenger Mauricio Herrera at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, live on Showtime.

Garcia, 27-0 (16), will put his The Ring magazine, WBC and WBA belts on the line against 33-year-old Herrera, who brings a record of 20-3 (7) to the table. Garcia is red-hot coming off his outstanding win over Lucas Matthysse in the chief support for the Floyd Mayweather-Saul Alvarez bout last September. After that exciting win, fans were calling on Garcia to move up in weight and lobby for a shot at pound-for-pound king Mayweather. Many fans assumed that after his big night out against Matthysse, Danny might have earned a spot at the front of the Mayweather queue had Garcia elected to move up in weight. However, he can still make 140 pounds and seems content (for now) to stay at the weight while building his own junior welter legacy.
 
While no one is going to accuse Garcia of taking on the best available opponent for this title defense, he is facing a rugged, awkward style that can be problematic. While Herrera is 2-2 in his last four at bat, he did hand Ruslan Provodnikov his first loss back in 2011 and has shared ring time with Mike Anchondo, Mike Dallas Jr., Karim Mayfield and Mike Alvarado. It’s also worth mentioning that none of Herrera’s three losses were within the distance.
 
While Garcia will certainly be the best “El Maestro” has ever faced, Herrera has been in the ring with strong opposition and goes in with little pressure in the “nothing to lose and everything to gain” category. This is a fight the tough Philly champion doesn’t want to get caught sleeping in but with how the humble slugger has handled himself so far in his career, that would be surprising to say the least.
 
In a recent interview, Garcia stated, “It’s going to be a tough fight but I have prepared like I always have.” While the champion is excited and proud to fighting in front of his Puerto Rican brethren, one gets the impression an exciting win on Saturday night sets the table for a bigger meal down the line. “Swift” has a victory over every fighter and style that was supposed to beat him: the boxer, the banger, the experienced veteran and everything in-between. His hit list of big-name fighters is also growing into a very impressive résumé dotted with the likes of Erik Morales, Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Matthysse among others. A win for Garcia keeps the train rolling toward bigger and better things after Saturday night. A win for Herrera turns him from “guy happy to be getting a shot” to “The Guy.
 
While Garcia would welcome the rewards that come with challenging Floyd Mayweather, he won’t rest on his laurels, content to build his own career in the meantime. And with World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov still in the 140-pound sweeps and the likes of Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter, Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao and Robert Guerrero (to name a few) just a short jump up north at 147, there is some great stuff waiting for Garcia later this year with a victory on Saturday night.
 
In the co-main event, Deontay Wilder tackles Malik Scott in a 12-round WBC heavyweight eliminator and Juan Manuel Lopez and Daniel Ponce de Leon will tangle in a 10-round rematch fraught with history and tension for the WBO International junior lightweight title.
 
Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca.
 
 
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