Danny Garcia returns in one of the best boxing cards in recent years


 Puerto Rico is an island with a rich boxing tradition, having produced dozens of world champions, but it's in a dry spell after its only remaining titleholder, Rocky Martinez, lost his belt in November.

But unified junior welterweight world champion Danny Garcia, who is from Philadelphia but whose parents are both from Puerto Rico, is the No. 1 140-pounder in the world and has wanted to fight there for quite some time. Now he will have his chance.

Garcia, who still has relatives in Puerto Rico, will make his fifth title defense when he faces Mauricio Herrera on March 15 (Showtime) at the Rubin Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com after getting the deal done on Tuesday.

"Danny has talked to me for the last year and a half, saying, 'We have to look at doing one of my fights in Puerto Rico.' This is something he really wanted so, finally, I felt that this was a great opportunity for Danny to go to Puerto Rico and defend his title," Schaefer told ESPN.com. "I am sure Puerto Rico will welcome him with open arms. He wants to represent the U.S. and Puerto Rico, given the heritage that he has. I am very happy to be able to fulfill his dream to bring him to the island and have him fight there."

A news conference is scheduled in Puerto Rico to make the formal announcement on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs) was a strong candidate for 2013 fighter of the year honors after outpointing former titlist Zab Judah in a tough fight in April and then upsetting powerful Lucas Matthysse, whom he knocked down and defeated by unanimous decision, in September.

Herrera (20-3, 7 KOs), 33, of Riverside, Calif., lost back-to-back fights by decision in 2012 to undefeated fighters Mike Alvarado -- in a fight of the year candidate -- and Karim Mayfield. Alvarado later won a world title.

Herrera bounced back with a pair of wins in 2013, outpointing fringe contender Ji-Hoon Kim and journeyman Miguel Angel Huerta.

But Herrera's biggest win came in January 2011 when he won a competitive unanimous decision against Ruslan Provodnikov, who would go on to knock out Alvarado in October to win a junior welterweight world title.

"Herrera is a good fighter and he beat Provodnikov," said Schaefer, adding that Golden Boy signed him about 10 days ago. "Herrera is very excited about this fight. He sees it as a tremendous opportunity and is not worried at all about fighting Danny in Puerto Rico."

Herrera is a step down in competition compared to the opponents Garcia has been facing.

"Danny has fought everybody the past few years," Schaefer said. "He is clearly the man at 140 pounds and when you are the man you have a big target on your back. Whether Mauricio Herrera will be able to do something about it I don't know. But I do know Mauricio Herrera comes to fight and will be ready.

"He knows what it means for him, his career and his family. He's totally fired up for this opportunity. Herrera doesn't have the same name recognition or the same credentials like Matthysse or Judah, but it is those kinds of fights that are sometimes most dangerous is Danny is looking past him."

Schaefer said he also finalized two other bouts for the card:

• Top American heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder (30-0, 30 KOs), 28, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Tuscaloosa, Ala., will take a major step up in opposition against Malik Scott (36-1-1, 13 KOs), 33, of Philadelphia in the opening Showtime bout.

• In a fight that will be part of the Showtime Extreme coverage of preliminary fights, Juan Manuel Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, and Mexico's Daniel Ponce De Leon (45-5, 35 KOs), 33, both former junior featherweight and featherweight titleholders, will meet in a rematch at junior lightweight. Lopez knocked out Ponce De Leon in the first round in 2008 in Atlantic City, N.J., to win a junior featherweight title.

Lopez, however, has not looked good in recent fights and is coming off a one-sided fourth-round knockout loss to Mikey Garcia in a June featherweight title challenge. Ponce De Leon lost his featherweight title by ninth-round knockout to Abner Mares last May and rebounded to outpoint Joksan Hernandez in November.

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