Dan Rafael: Philadelphia

Unified junior welterweight world champion Danny Garcia is always proud to identify himself as a Philadelphia fighter.

After all, Garcia was born and bred in the legendary fight city that has produced so many great champions, including Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins, Matthew Saad Muhammad and even the most famous fictional fighter ever, Rocky Balboa.

But Garcia (28-0, 16 KOs) has fought in his hometown only three times as a professional, once in 2009 (a second-round knockout of Enrique Colon) and twice in 2010 (a seventh-round KO of Christopher Fernandez and fourth-round KO of Mike Arnaoutis).

Golden Boy Promotions has never arranged any of his six world title bouts in Philadelphia, instead putting them in locations such as Houston, Las Vegas, New York and Puerto Rico.

Garcia again will fight in New York when he meets big-time underdog Rod Salka (19-3, 3 KOs) in a non-title bout at 142 pounds on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where Garcia will be fighting for the third time.

One of Garcia's dreams was to have a title fight in Puerto Rico, where his parents are from, and Golden Boy made that come true when he took on Mauricio Herrera in Bayamon in March in what was a tough struggle to a majority-decision win.

Garcia hopes to eventually have a world title fight in Philadelphia.

"Actually, that was a dream of mine, to fight in Philadelphia in a world title fight," Garcia said. "I don't think there has been a world title fight here in quite an amount of years. But it wasn't available at this time. We tried; it wasn't available. A lot of the venues were booked for the time, the fight that they were trying to schedule in that time period, so we went with Barclays Center.

"Barclays Center is a great place. I love it. It feels down home to me. It's a good place for the people in Philadelphia. If they want to go out, they feel like they want to get out of the city, they just take a two-hour drive to New York, watch boxing and go out in New York after the fight. So it's a good getaway for the people in Philadelphia, and a lot of people from Philly are going to be there and it's going to be like I'm fighting in Philly anyway."

Philadelphia to fete Danny Garcia

April, 20, 2012
Junior welterweight Danny Garcia claimed a world title by outpointing Mexican legend Erik Morales on March 24 in Houston. Now Garcia will be honored by his hometown of Philadelphia.

Garcia will be recognized at a reception with Philadelphia mayor Michael A. Nutter, councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez and councilman Curtis Jones Jr. on Monday at morning.

"We are proud to call 'Swift' a local hero and role model for our young people," Jones said in a statement. "We need more champions in our communities who are excelling and realizing spectacular achievements like this."

Garcia, born and bred in Philly, knows the city's storied boxing history, which includes being home to great champions such as the late Joe Frazier and light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, whom Garcia has gotten to know because they share a promoter, Golden Boy.

"I'm proud to be another Philadelphia champion, because this is a tough city," Garcia said. "I'm ready to make a historic mark as a Philadelphia fighter and make my city proud."

Garcia (23-0, 14 KOs), 24, fought off a spirited effort from Morales to claim the 140-pound belt, which had been vacated the previous day because Morales failed to make weight.

Garcia's next fight isn't set yet, but he owes a mandatory title defense to Ajose Olusegun (30-0, 14 KOs).