SAN DIEGO, March 16, 2014 – It wasn’t quite the homecoming Danny Garcia hoped for in Puerto Rico Saturday night.
Garcia (28-0, 16 KOs) won a split decision victory over a determined Mauricio Herrera of California (20-4-0, 7 KOs). Herrera landed a good variety of shots, set up with an active jab and doing damage in this unexpectedly good chess match.
Two judges scored it 116-112 for Garcia. The third judge and the only local judge from Puerto Rico, Gustavo Padilla, saw it as a draw, 114-114. Garcia may have gotten the champion’s benefit of the doubt.
Herrera changed up his approach throughout the fight and gave Garcia a lot more trouble than the formidable Lucas Matthysse did last September. Garcia looked worse after the fight than in any recent contest, with blood pouring out of his nose at times. For those surprised by Herrera, recall that he barely lost to the fearsome Ruslan Provodnikov in a razor thin decision in 2011. Just as in the Provodnikov fight, Herrera kept Garcia off balance and his offense under control, and unleashed enough of his own to win in the eyes of many observers incuding the entire Showtime announcing team on Saturday.
Garcia said after his fight with Matthysse in September 2013 that he intended to move up to 147 pounds. He admitted that it was getting hard to make the super lightweight limit after eight years in the division, and it might have affected him Saturday. “Fighting at 140, kind of making the weight might have affected my performance a little bit,” Garcia told Showtime’s Jim Gray. “I’ve been fighting at 140 for eight years, it’s getting a little hard. I might need to think about moving up.”
Garcia said he expected Herrera to be tough. “He’s a crafty veteran, I know every time I step in the ring, eveyrbody I fight wants what I got … That’s what it is when you’re the champion. Everyone wants what you’ve got It’s going to be like that from here on out.”
Herrera said he believed he won the fight. “I thought I was perfectly prepared for this fight. I pushed the fight, I come to box. I had to put the pressure on … I landed more punches, a lot of his punches weren’t landing. I thought I finished strong at the end too.”
The undercard fights were easy days at the office for the winners. Heavyweight Deontay Wilder scored another first round knockout with a wicked left hook to Malik Scott to remain undefeated at 31-0, all wins by knockout in four rounds or less. Wilder will face the winner of the fight between Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola, schduled May 10 on ESPN.
After the fight Wilder said on Showtime he’s not concerned by criticism that he’s never been seriously tested. He said he’s ready for a title fight. “All the testing is done in the gym to come here and make it look easy. I don’t care if I don’t go past four rounds. I don’t care if I don’t solve all the questions people have on me.”
Wilder says he’s “on a mission” to bring the heavyweight title back to America where it belongs.
Middleweight Danny Jacobs (27-1, 24 KOs) also scored a first round knockout victory over Milton Nunez (26-10-1, 24 KOs) to continue his comeback after beating spinal cancer. He has won the admiration of many fans by his actions both inside and outside the ring. Boxing needs more promising fighters like Jacobs.
In the rematch of their 2008 fight, Juan Manuel Lopez (34-3, 31 KO) thrilled his hometown Puerto Rican fans by beating Daniel Ponce de Leon of Mexico (45-6, 35 KO) again with another early knockout. It wasn’t in the first round like in 2008, but the second round isn’t too shabby either. It was a must win fight for both. Ponce De Leon drew first blood by sending JuanMa to the canvas early in the round. Lopez roared back and put Ponce de Leon on the canvas twice before the fight was stopped. It is sure to be considered for Round of the Year in 2014.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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