RING, WBA and WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia vowed to deliver "another epic performance" on March 15 against the rugged Mauricio Herrera, who doesn't "see Danny Garcia as any different than anyone else."
Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder called his "heavyweight showdown" with veteran Malik Scott "one of the best to come this year," and Juan Manuel Lopez expects "a difficult fight" in his 130-pound clash with Daniel Ponce de Leon, a fellow two-division titleholder whom Lopez stopped in the first round for the WBO junior featherweight title in June 2008.
The three fights will be the focus of a Showtime-televised card that is scheduled for the historic Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez, in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. The participants shared their thoughts in a release by Golden Boy Promotionsfrom their respective training facilities.
A 25-year-old Philadelphia resident who is trained by his father, Angel, 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 Jr.-Canelo Alvarez last September.
"I've been training in Philadelphia for about eight weeks. Losing weight and sparring is always the toughest challenge in training camp," said Garcia, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico.
"Fighting in Puerto Rico is a dream come true. I'm very excited and I can't wait to give my fans in Puerto Rico a great show. Mauricio is a tough fighter but I am 110 percent ready; come March 15 it will be another epic performance by me."
The 33-year-old Herrera (20-3, 7 KOs) will be after his third straight win after a pair of losses. He 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 by decision in April 2012.
"I started training the day I signed for this fight. I've been training out of Riverside, Calif., at a gym called Capital Punishment Gym with my trainer, Jose Torres. This camp has not only been the toughest, but it's been the smartest. I have changed things that didn't work for me in my past camps and implemented more things that work. I don't see Danny Garcia as any different than anyone else," said Herrera.
"I don't want to hold him way up on a pedestal the way his dad does. Danny Garcia is just like me. We both bleed and we both feel pain. I feel great about fighting in Puerto Rico. There is a lot of love for the sport of boxing in Puerto Rico, so that gives me more incentive to bring everything I've got to the ring. In the end, I'll fight anywhere. The ring can be in Puerto Rico, Riverside or Las Vegas. It's a different crowd but the ring and my desire to win is the same."
Opening the Garcia-Herrera broadcast on Showtime, which will follow the Lopez-Ponce de Leon Showtime Extreme telecast, will be a heavyweight WBC title eliminator bout between Scott (36-1-1, 13 KOs) and Wilder (30-0, 30 KOs), a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.
Wilder said that he is up for the challenge agianst Scott, despite the fact that they share a sibling-like bond.
"I think Malik will come to fight and make this heavyweight showdown one of the best to come this year. So many people are super excited about this matchup that they can't stop talking about it, and that's what the heavyweight division needs," said Wilder, who turned 28 on Oct. 22 — six days after Scott's 33rd birthday.
"I love the excitement, and I'm very happy to be a part of bringing the division back to where it once was. I'm training back home in Tuscaloosa, Ala.. I've been training nonstop since my last fight but officially started sparring on Feb. 17."
Wilder met Scott during the summer of 2011, when the American heavyweights were serving 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.
"I've been training at the Ten Goose Boxing Gym since about mid-January. We've had a smooth training camp," said Scott. "All my thoughts are on staying focused and getting ready for March 15. All I know is that inside the ring it will be like home."
LOPEZ-PONCE DE LEON
Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs) and Ponce de Leon (45-5, 35 KOs) have been matched in a crossroads bout between sluggers.
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 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.
"I've been training for about a month at my gym in Montebello, Calif. The most difficult situation for a fighter is to make weight. I recognize that I was struggling in my last two fights to make the junior featherweight division," said Ponce de Leon, who will be fighting in Lopez's native Puerto Rico.
"Juan Manuel Lopez is a tough fighter. He has power and I know he will never lose his power. I expect a tough fight. I feel fine about fighting in Puerto Rico. I don't have any pressure. I know I am in his house, but a lot of people will enjoy the fight."
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 Mikey Garcia in June.
"I have been training at the Caimito Gym since the beginning of January. It is the same gym used by Tito Trinidad for many of his fights and also by Oscar De La Hoya while he was in Puerto Rico. The whole camp has been somewhat challenging," said Lopez.
"Because it is the first time, I am training in a different gym that is far from the one I normally use. This will be a difficult fight for me. I am sure that it will be different than the first one. I am super happy to be fighting in Puerto Rico and I see it as a great opportunity for my career."
Photo by Naoki Fukuda