Danny Garcia: Samuel Vargas bout a tribute to hometown Philly
Welterweight world titleholder Danny Garcia has much love for the City of Brotherly Love, his hometown of Philadelphia, and is excited for the opportunity to fight there once again even if most view the fight as a mismatch.
Garcia will take on Samuel Vargas in a 10-round nontitle bout on a Premier Boxing Champions card Nov. 12 (Spike, 9 p.m. ET) at the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University, where the fighters appeared Thursday at a news conference to announce the fight.
“My dad and I wanted to get one more fight in before the end of the year, and there was no doubt in my mind it had to be in Philadelphia,” said Garcia , whose father, Angel Garcia, is also his son’s trainer. “My team got it done, and it’s a great feeling to fight at home over the holidays. I’m excited to use this opportunity to give back to the community and put on a show on Nov. 12.”
Garcia announced his partnership with the charity organization Philabundance, a regional hunger relief organization. Garcia encouraged fans to drop off canned goods at the Liacouras Center his DSG Gym in the city and also said that $10 from each ticket sold will be donated and provide 20 meals per ticket for people in need.
“This city means everything to me,” Garcia said. “I hope everyone comes out, but shows up with cans of food too. Being able to partner with Philabundance is a tremendous thing. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. When you’re fortunate, your job is to give back and change someone else’s life. I’m looking forward to a great night and a great turnout.
“Everyone has gone through hard times. Everyone has gone through times where they need extra help. We’re going to make a big difference that night, and it’ll be for a lot of people that really need it.”
Said Angel Garcia: “I came to Philadelphia at 6 years old. I had no food. Only you know your pain. I ate a lot of food from a can growing up, so if you guys donate anything or buy a ticket that donates money, you’ll be doing something great. We pray every day for the hungry kids, not just in America but the whole world.”
Garcia, 28, has not fought in Philadelphia since 2010 and will be fighting in his hometown for the fourth time in his nine-year career. But he is coming home with a fight that is not expected to be competitive. It is admittedly a tuneup fight for a much bigger one.
If Garcia wins, he will face fellow world titleholder Keith Thurman in a unification fight in the first quarter of 2017, most likely in March. It’s one of the biggest fights that can be made in one of boxing’s deepest divisions.
“I’m gearing up for a big fight with Keith Thurman next year that’s going to be a can’t-miss event,” Garcia said. “First, I’m going to fight for my city on Nov. 12. I can’t look past Samuel Vargas, and I know his trainer (Billy Briscoe) has a couple tricks up his sleeve. I know they’re going to come to fight, but I will never underestimate anyone.
“I’ve learned my lessons to become the champion I am today. I know Vargas knows how to win. He’s won a lot in his career. I’m going to go out there and just fight. If it goes the distance, then it does. I can’t underestimate him. I’m going to put on a great show and dominate.”
Vargas (25-2-1, 13 KOs), who is from Colombia and based in Toronto, stepped up in the level of his opposition once before. He got battered in a fourth-round knockout loss in April 2015 to then-prospect Errol Spence Jr., now a top contender who is the mandatory challenger for the belt held by Kell Brook. Vargas, 27, knows Garcia is very tough.
“This fight could change my whole life, the lives of my family,” he said. “Danny is a great fighter and I have to give it my all. I have to take advantage of this. I’m an underdog and I have been my whole life. There are very few options for a Latin immigrant all the way up in Canada. I beat the odds to make it up there and have a life and a family.
“I’m a guy with just over 10 amateur fights and I’ve made it this far. Danny Garcia is my chance. I have to make the best of it and give it my all. This is everything for me. This is going to be a Rocky story in Rocky’s town.”
Briscoe added: “We’re fighting, in my opinion, the best welterweight in the world. This is no easy task and we’re not fooling ourselves. We won’t leave any stone unturned. We’ll find a way and we’ll make a way.”
Garcia (32-0, 18 KOs) has been heavily criticized by fans, especially on social media, for his soft schedule since a big win against Lucas Matthysse in their 2013 junior welterweight championship fight. Since then, he has faced one top opponent, winning a debatable 12-round majority decision against Lamont Peterson in April 2015. Other than that, Garcia has beaten faded Robert Guerrero for a vacant welterweight belt in January, long-faded former titleholder Paulie Malignaggi, club fighter Rod Salka and fringe contender Mauricio Herrera, who many thought deserved the decision against Garcia.
Even Thurman and Spence mocked the selection of Vargas on Twitter.
Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) is coming off a close decision win over former titleholder Shawn Porter to retain a belt on June 25 in a fight-of-the-year contender. Many outspoken fans have accused Garcia of cherry-picking his opponents. Thurman followed suit.
Garcia has seen and heard the critics but said he pays no attention to them.
“People are acting like Keith Thurman has a cape like Superman and can fly,” Garcia said. “I want the other champions to think I’m vulnerable. Those are my easiest fights. I have to get past this fight to get to the next one.
“I have a good team around me. There should be no distractions leading up to this fight. I’m 100 percent focused on this matchup. Come Nov. 12, we want to give the city of Philadelphia a night to remember. I can’t overlook this fight, but I guarantee that I’m going to unify titles at 147 pounds soon.”
There are also two other bouts scheduled for the telecast: up-and-coming middleweight Jarrett Hurd (18-0, 12 KOs), 26, of Accokeek, Maryland, against Mexico’s Jorge Cota (25-1, 22 KOs), 27, in a 12-round fight; and former junior lightweight titlist Javier Fortuna (30-1-1, 22 KOs), 27, of the Dominican Republic, against Omar Douglas (17-0, 12 KOs), 25, of Wilmington, Delaware, in a scheduled 10-rounder.