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Unified junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia and titleholder Lamont Peterson will appear on the same card in showcase defenses on Aug. 9 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in what is expected to be a prelude to a unification fight later in the year.
Garcia and Peterson are each facing lesser opponents with little name recognition or accomplishment, however. Golden Boy Promotions announced on Tuesday that Garcia would make his sixth title defense when he faces unheralded Rod Salka in the main event of the Showtime-televised tripleheader while Peterson will make his third title defense when he meets Edgar Santana.
The card will open with Brooklyn's Daniel Jacobs facing Jarrod Fletcher of Australia for a vacant secondary middleweight world title.
"This is my third fight at Barclays Center, and it feels like a second home to me," said Garcia, who is from Philadelphia. "I'll be ready for Rod Salka, and I'm going to give my Brooklyn fans another great show."
The 26-year-old Garcia (28-0, 16 KOs) had a big year in 2013, outpointing former titlist Zab Judah and then upsetting the powerful Lucas Matthysse. But 2014 won't go down with the same kind of accolades. In March, Garcia struggled to a majority decision win against Mauricio Herrera in a fight many thought Herrera had clearly won and now he is taking on the unknown Salka.
After the fight with Herrera, Garcia said he had trouble making 140 pounds and would think about moving up to the 147-pound welterweight division. But that plan is on hold, likely until next year with the Salka fight lined up and then a likely fight with Peterson.
Salka (19-3, 3 KOs), 31, of Bunola, Pennsylvania, dropped a majority decision (on Showtime) to Ricardo Alvarez -- Mexican star Canelo Alvarez's older brother -- in December and bounced back for a decision win against unbeaten Alexei Collado on April 18.
"This is the biggest stage I have fought on in my career, but that doesn't intimidate me," Salka said. "Danny Garcia is beatable, and I'm going to show the world how it's done. My experience has prepared me for this and I will be ready on August 9."
Peterson (32-2-1, 16 KOs), 30, of Washington, D.C., won a controversial split decision against Amir Khan in 2011 to win a title but tested positive for synthetic testosterone in a random drug test prior to the rematch in 2012, which led to the fight being canceled and a 14-month layoff.
Peterson returned to defend his title against former titlist Kendall Holt via eighth-round knockout in February 2013 but then got blown out in a third-round knockout loss to Matthysse in May 2013. However, it was a non-title bout contracted at 141 pounds, so Peterson's belt was not at stake.
Peterson successfully defended the title in January by unanimous decision against mandatory challenger Dierry Jean.
"I'm really excited about this fight and about making a statement to the boxing world that I'm the true junior welterweight world champion," Peterson said. "I know Danny will be watching me, and I'll be watching him. After August 9, there will be only one fight to make at 140 pounds."
Santana (29-4, 20 KOs), a 35-year-old New Yorker born in Puerto Rico, has won three fights in a row but never faced a top opponent. He was also idle from 2008 to 2011, in part because he was incarcerated on a drug trafficking conviction. He knows what a big opportunity he is getting.
"I want to thank Lamont Peterson and his team for giving me this opportunity. This has been a long time coming for me and I'm just so excited and thankful to finally be getting a crack at the world championship," Santana said. "This is an absolute pleasure for me to get this opportunity, especially since the fight is taking place right here in my hometown of New York. I haven't fought here in a couple of years and I expect to have a ton of people there to support me come August 9."
Jacobs (27-1, 24 KOs), 27, will be fighting for a title for the second time. In 2010, he faced Dmitry Pirog for a vacant belt and got knocked out in the fifth round. Jacobs has won seven in a row since then, although he was out of the ring for 19 months batting cancer that nearly killed him.
"This whole comeback has been a dream so far, and what better way to keep it going than with a world title fight in my borough," Jacobs said. "This is the fight I've been waiting for and no one will keep me from that belt."
Fletcher (18-1, 10 KOs), 30, will be fighting in the United States for the first time.
"I know that the hometown crowd will be in Jacob's corner, but that's fine," Fletcher said. "My goal, like Daniel's, is to win -- and regardless of where the fight is taking place, I intend on having my hand raised."