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Danny Garcia is back home in Philly and loving it

Fighters Network

PHILADELPHIA — Danny “Swift” Garcia could care less. He knew he was going to hear about the quality of opponent he’ll be facing Saturday, Nov. 12, when he fights in his hometown of Philadelphia for the fourth time in his career – and first time in over six years, since he knocked out Mike Arnaoutis in October 2010. Much has changed for the undefeated WBC welterweight titleholder in that span.

He won the WBC and WBA junior welter titles. He stopped Amir Khan – when few thought he could. Then he beat Lucas Matthysse – when few thought he could. His rise up the boxing food chain placed him in the running of the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes. He’s recognized as one of boxing’s best young superstars. The one thing that had been missing, the piece that gnawed at him during that upward arc, was not being able to share his success with his “peeps,” the Philly fans and extended boxing family that watched him since he first put on gloves fighting at the amateur level.

And the 28-year-old is a father now, the proud papa of 2-year-old daughter Philly Swift Garcia. Yeah, Garcia named her after the city he grew up in.

So when the announcement came on Thursday at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in North Philly that Garcia (32-0, 18 knockouts) will be fighting Samuel Vargas (25-2-1, 13 KOs) in a 10-round nontitle fight, it was greeted with tepid, ho-hum golf claps. But to Garcia, whose fight will headline a Premier Boxing Champions card on Spike TV, fighting in Philly is what the show will be about, not so much the opponent he’ll be facing.

“It’s a big deal to me, and why I think it’s very important to have your hometown behind you,” Garcia said. “I think the people in Philadelphia love me although I haven’t given them a championship fight before. Even though this fight won’t be, I’m in a much better place than I was six years ago when I was fighting on undercards. I’ve only had (three previous) professional fights here, but I had my whole amateur career here. You always want to build yourself up in your hometown. That’s the best way to do it. You just have to cross-promote.

“I spoke to (manager) Al (Haymon) about getting me a fight in Philly. Al knew it was a big priority for me, and we’re looking to set something up even larger ahead. I want to fight Keith Thurman. I would love for that fight to be in Philly, too, but the way that’s looking it will probably be in Las Vegas or New York, although I’d prefer for it to be in Philadelphia.”

It looks like Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs), the WBA welterweight titleholder, and Garcia will have a unification fight sometime within the first four months of 2017. Of course, Garcia first needs to get by Vargas, who was knocked out by Errol Spence last year and doesn’t really have much of a chance. For Garcia, this appears to be more like a spirited sparring session to knock off some of the rust in preparation for “One Time.” Garcia last fought in January, scoring a decision win over an unsurprisingly tough Robert Guerrero.

“This happened so fast, I have nowhere to start,” said Vargas, originally from Colombia and now fighting out of Toronto, Canada. “I better take this opportunity now. Danny can underestimate me. That’s fine. But he’ll pay if he does.”

Some critics point to the fact that Garcia hasn’t really jumped on the momentum he built after beating Khan and Matthysse. After shocking the boxing world by destroying Khan in four in July 2012, Swift fought a pair of shopworn former titlists in Erik Morales and Zab Judah. After he vanquished Matthysse in arguably his best performance as a pro, Garcia struggled to a majority decision over Mauricio Herrera (a fight many ringsiders thought he lost) and beat down soft touch Rod Salka in two after that.

It’s why Danny shakes his head when Vargas’ name is broached. His response is, “So what? You still have to respect anyone you get in the ring with. It’s another dream come true to me, to be a Latino boxing champion from Philadelphia fighting in Philly.

“It doesn’t matter who we face, Danny will be ready and he’ll win,” said Angel Garcia, Danny’s trainer and outspoken father. “Danny wants to give back. That’s what this fight in Philly means to him. We know people still underestimate Danny. They still don’t give him the respect. That’s OK, because I like the odds to be against Danny. We had a few fights in mind (for 2016), but they fell through. No one wants to fight Danny, because they know he’ll win. Wait and see, if everything falls into place like it should for next year, Danny’s going to have all four welterweight belts and be the Fighter of the Year. It starts with this one. This one is in Philly.”

Then Angel put out a not-so-veiled threat to Thurman.

“Hey, this man Vargas is coming with two hands,” Angel said. “He’s the underdog, but Danny’s been the underdog his whole life. Hey, Thurman says this fight will be the last cherry Danny fights in 2016. Well, I’m going to create an emoji with all of the fighters that Danny beat with two cherries sticking out. Then I’m going put on their faces, ‘Chew on that now, buddy!’ I hope you buy the emoji. He’s coming at you soon.”

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