By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS)—Danny Garcia flickers into the spotlight more often these days. The North Philadelphia fighter should. He’s earned the right. “Swift” is the junior welterweight world champion and the heir apparent to the legendary Bernard Hopkins to uphold the mantle of Philly fighters.
Another opportunity will come this Saturday, when the undefeated Garcia (27-0, 16 knockouts) puts his Ring Magazine, WBC and WBA belts on the line against 33-year-old Mauricio Herrera (20-3, 7 knockouts) in Puerto Rico on Showtime.
Call this the door prize for the reward Garcia should have received—a date with Floyd Mayweather. Garcia drew rave reviews by smashing the supposedly indestructible Lucas Matthysse last September, as the main undercard feature bout on the Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez card.
No one is saying here that Garcia is at a stage in his career where he’s able to beat Mayweather, but he at least deserved the chance—and more importantly, the career-high payday that would have come with a marquee Mayweather fight.
(video via Philly 360)
Instead, Garcia will headline his own card in Puerto Rico, where both of his parents were born. In Herrera, Garcia will be facing a limited fighter who is 2-2 over his last four fights. In 2011, Herrera did hand Ruslan Provodnikov his first career loss. Following that in 2012, however, Herrera suffered consecutive 10-round decision setbacks to Mike Alvarado and Karim Mayfield.
Neither Alvarado nor Mayfield are in Garcia’s class. Alvarado has gone 1-2 since beating Herrera and Mayfield has only fought once in 2013.
Still, if Garcia couldn’t get a home fight in Philly, he’s getting a chance to shine for his fans in his second home on Showtime.
“It’s an exciting feeling going to Puerto Rico. To go back where my dad was born, it means a lot to me to reach out to my Puerto Rican fans. I just want to go out there and win on March 15. The Puerto Rican fans have supported me and it means a lot. I’m a Puerto Rican just like they are. My Spanish is coming along, I understand everything. I’ve been working on becoming more confident when speaking [Spanish].
“It’s amazing to be a Puerto Rican fighter. We have a great history. I say this all the time, ‘I’m Puerto Rican, raised in Philadelphia,’ so I got the best of both worlds. I got the Puerto Rican power and the Philly toughness. It comes a long way.
“I was ready to move up a weight class, but I can still make 140. If I’m back in the ring in the summertime I know I can make 140 with the heat. I’ve always been disciplined so it’s no problem for me. I said I deserved a home fight, either Philly or Puerto Rico, since I’m always going to someone else’s place to fight. Everyone thought it was a great idea to go back to Puerto Rico. My parents always talk about Puerto Rico. My dad’s whole family lives in Puerto Rico. My great grandma lives in Puerto Rico and I got to meet her a couple years ago.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.