SAN DIEGO, March 14, 2014 – Puerto Rico has a proud tradition of producing great boxing champions. Wilfred Benitez, Wilfredo Gomez, Edwin Rosario, and perhaps the greatest of all, three division champion Felix Trinidad inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame this year.
There are no current Puerto Rican champions in any division. One American of Puerto Rican heritage holds a title belt, and he will defend that belt on Puerto Rican soil Saturday night on Showtime, 9 p.m. ET.
Danny “Swift” Garcia of Philadelphia (27-0, 16 KOs) finds a way to win even when he’s been an underdog. On Saturday, Garcia will step into the ring as the favorite against Mauricio Herrera (20-3-0, 7 KOs) of Riverside, California.
The contest looks on the surface like a tune-up fight for Garcia and a show for boxing crazy Puerto Rican fans who are looking for someone to root for. But tune-up contests don’t always follow the script. Herrera handed the tough Ruslan Provodnikov one of his two losses in a close unanimous decision in 2011. Herrera showed smart ring generalship, was aggressive early and kept Provodnikov’s offense under control to win.
Can Herrera do it again with Garcia? Garcis is not easily intimidated. He won an impressive decision against Lucas Matthysse last fall, another against a tough Zab Judah, and knocked out Amir Khan. Boxing fans have tossed aside their “Groundhog Day” thinking when it comes to Garcia.
It’s taken a few years, but Garcia proved he is the undisputed champion at 140-pounds in an exciting, action-packed fight against Matthysse, who couldn’t find the target. Meanwhile, Garcia turned the tables around and challenged Matthysse’s ability to take a punch, causing Matthysse’s right eye to swell up to the point Matthysse couldn’t see out of it.
Garcia said after his fight with Matthysse he had no opponents left at 140 pounds, and intended to move up to 147 pounds. With no one in the new welterweight neighborhood around to welcome him, he’s taken on Herrera as part of a long term strategy to win the loyalty of Puerto Rican boxing fans. We will see if Herrera can derail this train.
The undercard fight features the intriguing American heavyweights Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder (30-0, 30 KO) and Malik Scott (36-1-1, 13 KO). While Wilder is an impressive physical presence with an equally impressive record on paper, boxing observers have long criticized the quality of Wilder’s opponents. Nevertheless, he has dispatched every single one of them in four rounds or less, sometimes much less.
Scott is 33 years old and not getting better with age. He has a loss and a draw in his last three fights, and barely a third of his fights have been knockouts. He’s a cautious, defense oriented fighter which seems odd for a guy who weighed in at 238 pounds. He may force Wilder to fight a few more rounds than he’s used to, but Wilder is likely to get the win whether it’s another spectacular early KO or an ugly grind.
Also on the undercard and televised earlier in the evening on Showtime Extreme starting at 7 p.m. Eastern, Juan Manuel Lopez (33-3, 30 KO) and Daniel Ponce de Leon (45-5, 35 KO) fight a 10-round 130-pound rematch of their 2008 fight, won by Lopez with an electric first round knockout.
Middleweight Danny Jacobs (26-1, 23 KO) squares off against Milton Nunez (26-9-1, 24 KO) in a 10-round bout at a 162-pound catchweight. Jacobs has an amazing story, coming back after successfully overcoming spinal cancer and partial paralysis. He was told to quit boxing but resumed training after surgery and rehabilitation, and has won all his fights since then. It’s hard not to root for this relentlessly upbeat young man who shows the power of positive thinking.
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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