On May 13, unbeaten junior welterweight prospect Danny "Swift" Garcia sat down on the couch with his father/trainer, Angel Garcia, turned on the TV to watch "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2 and was struck by a peculiar premonition as the main-event fighters, Kendall Holt and Julio Diaz, stepped into the ring.
"You know what?" Danny said to his dad. "I think I'm going to fight the winner of this fight."
Holt prevailed by spectacular third-round knockout in the battle of veteran former titleholders, reinserting himself into the fringes of the 140-pound title picture. A few weeks passed. Then Garcia's phone rang.
"They called and were like, 'You want to fight Kendall Holt?'" Garcia recalled. "And I was like, 'Yeah, let's do it, baby!'"
The crossroads fight will take place on Oct. 15, on the pay-per-view undercard of the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson light heavyweight championship bout in Los Angeles. It's undoubtedly a step-up test for the 23-year-old Garcia (21-0, 14 KOs), whose most noteworthy opponents so far were the faded likes of Mike Arnaoutis and Nate Campbell, both of whom were riding three-fight winless streaks coming in. Holt (27-4, 15 KOs) has scored knockouts in each of his past two fights and possesses the punching power to invoke the "be careful what you wish for" cliché.
Garcia is confident, however, that he can escape the fate that befell Diaz.
"I saw that knockout, it was a great knockout, but I said to myself, 'He's not going to touch me with that!'" Garcia said. "You can't hit what you can't see. Diaz was coming forward, landing shots, and then Diaz got overanxious and ran into a shot. Next thing you know, it's over. But Diaz was smaller; he couldn't hurt Kendall Holt. Now Holt is fighting a guy with skills and with speed, and I just know I'm going to beat him."
The Philadelphia-born Garcia is exactly half the age of the fellow Philadelphian headlining the card. Philly isn't the fight town it once was -- the gyms are no longer teeming with Joe Fraziers and Matthew Saad Muhammads and Meldrick Taylors, and the South Philadelphia Sports Complex hasn't hosted a major card in nine years. But Garcia is out to show that the city's boxing lineage will not die with Hopkins. He looks at this high-profile undercard fight as a chance to begin receiving the torch.
"I'm just blessed to have this opportunity," Garcia said. "I'm strong, I'm fit, I'm cut up, I'm ready to go. And I know one thing: Philadelphia will be in the house on Oct. 15."
How much of Philadelphia will be in the stands at Staples Center, in a fight card that most boxing folks agree belonged on the East Coast, remains to be seen. But Philly will be well-represented in the ring, with a promising prospect stepping up against an opponent who can reveal a thing or two about whether Garcia will be his hometown's next elite fighter.