Junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia of Philadelphia, whose parents are from Puerto Rico, is very excited for his first bout on the island against Mauricio Herrera on March 15 (Showtime) at the Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum on Bayamon.
"This is going to be a night I will remember forever, and I plan on giving the fans a show they won't forget," said Garcia, who was a fighter of the year candidate in 2013 thanks to a decision win against former titlist Zab Judah and an upset decision against Lucas Matthysse. "I'm a proud Puerto Rican, and even though Herrera is a tough challenger, there is no way I'm losing in Puerto Rico. This is definitely one of the most important bouts of my professional career for my whole family. I can't wait for March 15."
Herrera (20-3, 7 KOs), who owns a 2011 decision win against junior welterweight titlist Ruslan Provodnikov, said he relishes his underdog status.
"I've waited a long time for a fight like this, and while I know Garcia is the favorite, I won't be underestimated," said Herrera, who is from Riverside, Calif. "I love the underdog role and I'm going to shock the world on March 15."
Not only did Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs) want to fight in Puerto Rico, his father/trainer Angel Garcia, who was born there, also wanted it.
"Danny Garcia and his father Angel have told me how much that a fight in Puerto Rico would mean to them, and it's going to be an emotional night for them," Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said. "When you mix Danny's desire to put on a great performance in Puerto Rico and Mauricio Herrera's hunger for a world title together, this is going to be a fight and night to remember."
The other fight on the televised doubleheader will see heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder (30-0, 30 KOs) of Tuscaloosa, Ala., take on his most notable opponent -- by far -- in Malik Scott (36-1-1, 13 KOs) of Philadelphia.
"I had a good year in 2013, but 2014 is going to be my biggest and best yet," said Wilder, a 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist. "It all starts with Malik Scott, and I respect his skill and experience, but by the end of the night, this is business."
Said Scott, who has a friendship with Wilder outside the ring, "You can't deny what Wilder has done in the ring so far, and he's got a bright future. But we have to put our friendship aside on March 15, and it's going to be a great fight."
In another undercard fight, which will be part of Showtime Extreme's coverage of preliminary bouts, former featherweight and junior featherweight titleholders Juan Manuel Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs) of Puerto Rico and Mexico's Daniel Ponce De Leon (45-5, 35 KOs) meet in a rematch at junior lightweight.
In 2008, Lopez knocked Ponce De Leon out in the first round to win a junior featherweight world title, although Lopez has looked near the end in recent fights while Ponce De Leon has still looked pretty solid, despite a ninth-round knockout to Abner Mares that cost him his featherweight title last May.