RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia will face rugged Mexican-American Mauricio Herrera on Showtime on March 15 in Puerto Rico, where Garcia's parents were born, Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer informed RingTV.com on Tuesday.
A 25-year-old Philadelphia resident, Garcia (27-0, 16 knockouts) was last in the ring for a unanimous decision over Lucas Matthysse in the co-featured bout to Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez last September.
The Garcia-Herrera card, which takes place at the historic Colisio Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, also features a heavyweight crossroads bout between 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (30-0, 30 KOs) and veteran Malik Scott (36-1-1, 13 KOs), as well as a 130-pound rematch between Puerto Rico's Juan Manuel Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs) and fellow two-division titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (45-5, 35 KOs).
"For Danny Garcia, this is something that he has asked me about repeatedly for the past 12-to-18 months, and that's to put on a show in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is very close and dear to his heart. Danny's mom and dad were born in Puerto Rico," said Schaefer of Garcia, who is trained by his father, Angel Garcia.
"Danny's grand parents lived in Puerto Rico, and he often visited his grand parents until they passed away. He still has relatives in Puerto Rico, so he is so excited to go to Puerto Rico. He wants to fight for Puerto Rico in Puerto Rico, and, later on, when he continues fighting in the United States. Puerto Rico currently has no world champion, and he wants to go to Puerto Rico and bring pride to the people."
In Herrera (20-3, 7 KOs), who is 33, Garcia faces a winner of two straight fights who owns a unanimous decision victory over current WBO 140-pound belt holder Ruslan Provodnikov from January of 2011.
Provodnikov scored a 10th-round stoppage in October to earn his current belt from Mike Alvarado, to whom Herrera lost his last fight by decision.
"For Mauricio Herrera, this one of those traditional rivalries between Mexico and Puerto Rico. Herrera knows that this is a chance of a lifetime. He knows a thing or two about being a spoiler as the man who beat Provodnikov, and Provodnikov came into the fight as the heavy favorite," said Schaefer.
"But Mauricio Herrera knew exactly what to do to win that fight. So here he goes again, going into a fight as the underdog. He likes that role, and has all of the motivation in the world to try to beat the undisputed 140-pound champion, Danny Garcia. To do that from Puerto Rico makes it that much more exciting."
The Garcia-Herrera card will "come on the heels" of the March 8 clash between Alvarez and Alfredo Angulo on Showtime Pay Per View, "which makes it a little like 'March Madness' on Showtime," said Schaefer, who is planning a press conference for next week in Puerto Rico.
Wilder scored two first-round knockdowns on the way to a fourth-round stoppage of Nicolai Firtha in his last fight in October. Prior to that, Wilder had back-to-back first-round KOs over ex-beltholder Sergei Liakhovich in August and 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in April, the latter of which took place in England.
"Deontay realizes that the heavyweight championship of the world is like the being the global ambassador for the sport, and he fought in England and was very warmly received in England. They are still talking about him in England, and people in England want him to come back," said Schaefer.
"Now, he's going to go and try to capture the hearts of the Puerto Ricans as well. I know that Deontay is excited to fight in a country and on an island with such a strong love and passion for boxing and for such a deep heritage for boxing. I know that he's excited about that."
Scott rebounded from a disputed sixth-round knockout loss to England's Dereck Chisora in July with a second-round stoppage of Grover Young on Jan. 24.
"With Malik Scott, you have, clearly, the biggest test for Deontay Wilder so far. This is an important fight for Deontay," said Schaefer. "Deontay is the kind of fighter who loves to fight outside of the United States. I am convinced that Deontay will become heavyweight champion of the world within the next 12 months."
Ponce de Leon was stopped in the first round by Lopez, who took his WBO junior featherweight title in June of 2008.
Ponce de Leon, a 33-year-old Mexican Olympian, is coming off of a unanimous decision victory over Joksan Hernandez in November after having been dethroned as WBC featherweight beltholder following a ninth-round knockout loss to Abner Mares last May.
Ponce de Leon had won the 126-pound belt with an eight-round technical decision over Jhonny Gonzalez last September that ended a 12-fight winning streak which included 11 knockouts for Gonzalez.
A 30-year-old resident of Caguas, Puerto Rico, Lopez is 3-3 in his past six fights, being stopped in all of his losses. Lopez was last in the ring for a fourth-round knockout loss to Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia in June.
Prior to facing Garcia, Lopez had sandwiched a second-round knockout of Mike Oliver in October of 2011 between the losses to Orlando Salido, who stopped him in April of 2011 and March of 2012. Lopez had won two straight, by ninth- and second-round stoppage, before entering the ring with Garcia.
"Obviously, for Juan Ma and Ponce, it's a crossroads fight," said Schaefer. "That fight will most likely be shown on Showtime Extreme."
Schaefer said that he still needed to discuss with Showtime sports boss Stephen Espinoza the platform on which the Lopez-Ponce de Leon fight will be televised.