Garcia takes exception at the idea that Puerto Rico is - for the first time in
a long time - without a boxing champion to call its own.
don’t think it’s fair that you can say I’m not a Puerto Rican fighter because I
wasn’t born in Puerto Rico, when my blood is Puerto Rican. So I had to let the
fans know; hey, I’m a Puerto Rican fighter and that’s just the way it is and
March 15, that’s why we got this fight in Puerto Rico, to solidify me as a
Puerto Rican champion,” said Garcia on a recent conference call.
Philadelphia-born and raised fighter (whose parents were both born in Puerto
Rico) happens to be, at the tender age of 25, the WBA and WBC junior
welterweight champion of the world. At 27-0 (16) and with the 140-pound
division (at least in the Golden Boy Promotions/Showtime/Al Haymon Universe) on
lockdown, Garcia is now seeking to add another element to the accolades piling
up around him: respect. And he'll attempt to do it this Saturday by returning
to his ancestral homeland at the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in
Bayamon, Puerto Rico to defend his belts
against cagey veteran Mauricio Herrera, 20-3 (7).
always been a dream of mine to fight in Puerto Rico, just to reach out to my
fans in Puerto Rico because I am Puerto Rican and they don’t have a champion
right now, so I think this gave me the perfect time for me to go over there and
show the Puerto Rican fans that they have a true champion. And I’m excited
about it. It’s always been a dream of mine to fight in Puerto Rico - and it
happened - and I thank Golden Boy for that, for making it happen,” Garcia said.
odd to think that Danny Garcia needs to gain any respect at all from boxing
fans. Garcia won his belts by effectively upending Erik Morales' career,
beating him twice, while mixing in an explosive fourth round TKO upset of Amir
Khan in between. Garcia followed up the rematch with Morales by going
dominating Zab Judah early and going tooth-and-nail late, getting wobbled in
the process while prevailing by unanimous decision. And while that win left
some questions, the follow-up certainly should not.
the co-feature to Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Saul Alvarez last September, Garcia
was pitted against the boxing media and fans' favorite boxer-puncher of the
last five minutes, Lucas Matthysse. For no apparent reason beyond perhaps a
dislike for the outspoken nature of his father/trainer, Angel (or for Garcia's
extracurricular activities such as rapping), fans and media alike treated the
fight as if it were a walkover for
Matthysse, who had yet to win big at the elite level.
fairly dominated the action, defusing “The Machine's” explosive offense and
damaging one of his eyes in the process. It was a mature, intelligent
performance by a young fighter who has successfully transitioned from contender
to titleholder to a champion capable of adapting.
still, the public hasn't caught on. Golden Boy, Garcia's promoter, hasn't
exactly pushed him to the fore either. “He was being fed to Khan and Matthysse,”
was the general consensus.
all this is for the best as Garcia keeps winning yet has yet to reach the accepted
end of the proving ground.
I train hard for every fight. I put 110 percent in the gym,” Garcia said on a
recent conference call. “All I know is hard work and dedication, so there’s no
thought in my mind saying that I’m going to let anybody down because I know
what I bring to the fight. I know how hard I work in the gym and no matter who
believes in me or who thinks I’m a winner or who thinks I’m not going to win in
future or past fights, I know what I’m capable of doing. I know how hard I
work. And that’s why every time at the end of the fight, I come out victorious
because I know the pain and the sacrifice that I put my body through to win
these fights and excite my fans.”
hunger could come in handy versus a fighter like Herrera, who can grab you,
hold you, smother your offense and generally play the spoiler all night long.
a good, tough fighter. I know he wants to be world champion and I know he’s
going to come to fight but I fought many amateur fights. I fought the best pros
in the world and I don’t think there’s anything he can show me differently than
I already do. So I’m going to go in there and do what I do best and that’s go
in there, make adjustments and get the crowd excited,” said Garcia of Herrera.
Garcia is hoping to look good in order to impress the Puerto Rican fans and
gain the respect of boxing fans the Matthysse fight didn't give him, he has an
uphill battle in front him, stylistically. Herrera knows very well how
frustrating his style can be, being the last guy to beat current WBO junior
welterweight champion Ruslan Provodnikov.
think my style does that to the guys, especially the stronger guys. My style
tends to come out and blossom even more,” Herrera told the press on a
conference call. “And I feel that this fight, I know when Danny fights, he is
fighting tough and no-namers but I don’t think it takes a really tough guy and
a big name to beat Danny. It could just be a random guy like me who has some
skills, some smartness in their arsenal and again, an awkward style that can
defeat Danny. And that’s what I’m going in really confident for.”
is a herky-jerky fighter who can in-fight or fight at long range. A fighter who
came to the sport late and learned on the job, Herrera fights at his own
rhythm, making it very hard to prepare for him.
think the biggest difference between me and those guys is a lot of those guys
had a lot of amateur backgrounds,” Herrera responded when asked to compare
himself to the résumé of Garcia. “You know, I don’t have a big amateur
background, so I’m not following with the basic punches and rhythms as those
guys have and that Danny can see and is used to; you know. I’m a little off-rhythm
on my shots. And also I drill with power at times and sometimes, I have no
power. Sometimes I go with speed and I can go inside. I can control distance
and I’m hard to hit if you’ve seen my fights, so I think all of that will make
a big difference from those fights and from me.”
to the problems Garcia potentially faces Saturday is the homecoming to Puerto
Rico itself. Garcia hasn't been back to the island for about two years. Coming home
a contender is one thing. Coming home the only champion the island can boast is
going to be a lot of pressure on Danny during fight week, being there in Puerto
Rico, absolutely,” Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer told the press assembled on
the conference call to promote the fight. “So I think, yes, it’s great for Danny
to be fighting in Puerto Rico but since this is the first time, there
definitely will be more demands on him from a public relations standpoint, from
media, from fans and from whatsoever, so all that are points which Mauricio
Herrera I’m sure knows and is ready to exploit.”
for some fighters, homecomings can be nightmares waiting to happen. Garcia
insists that won't be the case here. His father and he have a deal that they
will remain focused until the day of the fight, eschewing meet-and-greets or
sightseeing until after the bout.
Garcia, Herrera is facing a bull-strong fighter with a malleable mind and
style. Garcia can adapt to speed and strength. He can diffuse power, box from
inside and outside. As awkward as Herrera can be, Garcia is also a puzzle to
a very good fighter. I’m going to have to watch out for everything,” said Herrera.
“He’s got a good right hand; he’s got a good left hand. I’m going to have to be
careful. I’m going to have to pick my spots, know when to fight him inside and
know when to box, so I have to be careful with everything. It’s going to be a
a versatile fighter in front of him, Herrera understands he will also have to
change things up all night in order to be successful.
as you should know, I throw a lot of punches. I use the jab very well. A lot of
fighters don’t use the jab. I don’t think Danny is used to seeing that,”
surmised Herrera. “You know, I can come out different ways. I can come out to
pressure him. I can come out to box. I’ve shown that I can do a little bit of
both and I have really great defense. I think the defense is the main key. You
know, I’m not that easy to hit and I have a very good chin. So I know I can out
punch a guy and it’s not going to be an easy fight but when it gets down and
when we have to go and exchange, you know, I can do that too. So, I’m really
ready on all angles.”
to this fight being made, there were some rumors swirling that Garcia was in
the Mayweather Sweepstakes but turned them down. Garcia insisted he simply
fights and trains, leaving the management decisions to Al Haymon and promotional
decisions to Golden Boy.
soon as they told me about it, just like any other opponent, we never turned
down an opponent. We believe in destiny, so whomever they say is the person,
that’s the person that we accept and that’s the person that we fight. It was
never, ‘No, we want to fight him,’ or ‘We want to fight him,’ because you know
we never do that. We just believe in destiny. Whoever it is, it is, and that’s
who we fight,” explained Garcia.
he is successful here, the option of unifying with Ruslan Provodnikov is there
but there’s also the possibility of a move to 147 and richer fights. But to
hear Garcia tell it, there is no need to rush to Mayweather or anyone else.
still young. I’m 25 years old and I’m growing. I’m building my own legacy and 140,
it’s a little hard to make. It’s a sacrifice but I’m pretty sure once I go up
to 147, it’s going to be hard too. So I don’t think the weight was an issue but
I feel like, you know, I grew into the 140-pound weight class and I feel really
strong. I feel real good making the weight and I feel so good in the gym, so I
didn’t feel like it was possible for me to move up yet,” said Garcia.
living a dream, Garcia now gets to live a fantasy. The lone Puerto Rican
champion goes home looking to celebrate a rich boxing culture with his people
and hopefully be crowned a king among them. We should all live our dreams so
very exciting because this is where my family’s from. This is where my roots
are and it’s something I always asked Richard,” said Garcia. “And I think this
is very special to me because this is one of my dreams that I always dreamed of
and to go over there and fight in front of all the Puerto Rican fans that are
going to be there is amazing. I’ve never fought in an arena where every single
fan was mine and it’s going to be very special to me and I’m going to deliver.”
good on my prediction that his WBO middleweight belt would in fact be a shield,
Peter Quillin will take on unheralded Lukas Konecny. The Chicago-born Quillin,
who also claims Brooklyn, lives in Los Angeles but is of Cuban descent, will be
the main support to Bernard Hopkins vs. Beibut Shumenov April 19 in Washington,
Tony Weeks made the right call in stopping Alfredo Angulo's night short in the
10th round of his one-sided loss to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. There was
no perceiving this any other way: Angulo, brave and game as he was, didn't have
it on this night. To me, the fight was effectively over after round one. Angulo
walked into a hard left hook to start the fight seconds in and was shaken to
his foundation. He hid it well but Alvarez was freed up to tee off right from
the gate and he took advantage. He laid the ground work for the night in that
first round, digging to the body, firing hands to the head and Angulo absorbed
the time Alvarez suffered his typical mid-round fatigue, Angulo had nothing to
challenge him with. When Alvarez landed a giant, telegraphed uppercut to start
the 10th, Weeks knew we'd all seen enough. “Canelo” stated his case
that with the right style in front of him, he is going to be hard to beat.
At 23, Alvarez is a commodity with great upside. And considering the rumors
swirling about a power struggle at Golden Boy Promotions, it will be
interesting to see who at Golden Boy has sewn up that relationship.
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