RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia has declared himself "a proud Puerto Rican" in advance of his March 15 defense against Mexican-American Mauricio Herrera that will happen on on Showtime at the historic Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
"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 (27-0, 16 knockouts), a 25-year-old Philadelphia resident whose father and trainer, Angel Garcia, was born in Puerto Rico, as was his mother.
"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."
In Herrera (20-3, 7 KOs), 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.
"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," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions.
"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. Plus, we have the most exciting heavyweight in the world, Deontay Wilder, taking on a tough challenger in Malik Scott. If Deontay wins this fight, he can't be denied much longer for a world title fight."
"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. "I love the underdog role and I'm going to shock the world on March 15."
It has been declared that the victor in the Wilder-Scott bout will be the mandatory challenger to the winner of the Bermane Stiverne-Chris Arreola fight, which is for the title vacated by Vitali Klitschko.
Wilder went 4-0 over the course of 2013, starting with a second-round stoppage of Matthew Greer in Mexico last January.
In his next two fights, 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.
"I had a good year in 2013, but 2014 is going to be my biggest and best yet," said Wilder, 28. "It all starts with Malik Scott, and I respect his skill and experience, but by the end of the night, this is business."
Scott bounced back 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.
Wilder and Scott have been close friends since the summer of 2011, when they served as sparring partners for Tomasz Adamek in advance of the veteran contender's 10th-round knockout loss to Vitali Klitschko in September of that year.
"You can't deny what Wilder's done in the ring so far, and he's got a bright future," said Scott. "But we have to put our friendship aside on March 15, and it's going to be a great fight."
"In this event, we have two excellent matchups and dramatic storylines that are sure to make great television," said Stephen Espinoza, executive vice president and general manager of Showtime sports.
"Danny Garcia, the man to beat at 140 pounds, making his debut in Puerto Rico, plus another step up in competition for Deontay Wilder, a man who carries the hopes of those waiting for the next great American heavyweight champion, make this the quintessential Showtime Championship Boxing event."
Also, on the Showtime Extreme telecast preceding the Garcia-Herrera, Wilder-Scott event, double-header, therre will be 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). In June of 2008, Ponce de Leon was stopped in the first round by Lopez, who took his WBO junior featherweight title.
A 33-year-old Mexican Olympian, Ponce de Leon is coming off of a unanimous decision victory over Joksan Hernandez in November after having been dethroned as WBC featherweight beltholder by ninth-round knockout loss to Abner Mares last May.
Lopez, 30, of Puerto Rico, is 3-3 in his past six fights, being stopped in all of his losses. He was last in the ring for a fourth-round knockout loss to Mikey Garcia in June.
Video: Bill Emes