PHILADELPHIA -- With a looming junior welterweight title defense against Mauricio Herrera (20-3, 7 KO) just days away, Danny Garcia is thinking about going back home after having concluded another training session in his own gym, DSG Gym.
Garcia (27-0, 16 KO), who was born in Philadelphia of Puerto Rican parents, is not going back to his place in Philly but to Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where he'll fight in front of friends and family for the first time in his career.
Garcia is going to Puerto Rico to continue in the footsteps of the great fighters who have represented the island over the decades, whose pictures are part of a mural right in his own gym where he trains.
You're two weeks away from your fight with Mauricio Herrera. What's your outlook going into this bout?
He's a good fighter. He's a tough fighter. He's going to come to fight, but I'm going to go in there and give him the business.
He does sport an impressive win over ...
The Russian kid [Ruslan Provodnikov], yeah, yeah. I mean that's his biggest win. But other than that he's just a regular fighter to me.
How has your training camp been coming along?
My training camp has been great, man. I've been training hard. I've been putting that work in. I'm ready. I'll already ready. I'm just counting down to fight night.
What's changed, if anything, since your first title fight?
More smarter. More experienced. More confident. Everything just went up. It's just the fights you go through make you more dedicated. When you face adversity and stuff like that, you know what it feels like to be in that ring. That's what pushes you to train harder when you feel like you can't go no more and a guy just keeps coming at you, that's what you think about when you're training -- you push yourself to another level.
How significant is this fight being that it will be taking place in Puerto Rico?
It's very important for me, man. [I'm] going to be making a statement in front of my Puerto Rican fans. We're going in there [to] get the job done on March 15.
When people come inside this gym, one of the first things that people notice, aside from the ring, obviously, is the mural on the wall. We got [Miguel] Cotto up there. We got [Wilfred] Gomez, [Felix 'Tito'] Trinidad. We got Bernard Hopkins up there. Who else we got up there? Oh, [Hector 'Macho'] Camacho. We got me up there. I'm just showing respect, man.
Are you looking to continue that great boxing lineage of great Puerto Rican fighters who have represented the island over the years?
Yeah, no doubt, man. March 15 is the start of that, and we're looking to go in and make a statement.
There's also a frame hung up alongside that other wall of you and "Macho" Camacho. What do you recall of him?
I've seen his fights. When I was younger, he was at the end of his career. But it goes to show you that picture means a lot to me. It's kind of like history repeats itself. I got the chain, he had the chain on. We're kind of the same Puerto Ricans. That picture is motivational to me.
Was there a fight in which you told yourself, "I've arrived on the scene. Other boxers better look out."
The fight -- I would have to say was the fight after [Nate Campbell in 2011] ... where I knew I was ready, when I beat Kendall Holt. I think that's the fight were I knew I could be a champion, and the very next fight after that I fought for the world title.
Not many boxers lay claim to having their own gym, their own facility where they work out. What does this place mean to you?
It's very important. It's always been a dream of mine to have my own boxing gym. It's a dream come true, man. What more can I say. I'm happy. I worked hard for it, and I'm going to keep going for more.
You've mentioned working on setting your own legacy, and many kids, without a doubt, will come through this gym maybe as young as you were when you first stepped inside the ring as a 10-year-old. How special is that?
It's very important. There's a lot of talent out there. There's a lot of talent, but a lot of kids get caught up in the streets. They don't have a good foundation at home, and boxing was like my second home. So I think there's a lot of fighters can come here today. Young fighters got the potential to do that. They just got to stay focused and make boxing a home and love it. Anything is possible.
Do you see it as your obligation to go out into these streets and get kids in the gym?
Every day there are kids in here if you come early. You'll see there's a lot of kids here from the streets that come every day and train. It's up to them to stay focused and make their dreams come true.
Let go back to that first day with your dad in the gym. What do you recall?
I remember the first day I walked into a boxing gym, I was actually alone. My brother Erick used to come to the gym with my two cousins because they boxed before me, too. Then, one day I came to the gym. I've always been a fan of boxing, and I wanted to sign up. I had to wait because, financially, my dad wasn't doing good. So as soon as we were good enough to do that, I got in the gym and him and me never stopped.
How's has your relationship with your dad evolved?
My dad is an inspiration to me. He's been through a lot in life. We learned together. We built together. It's just a special relationship.
What's it like on fight nights? Is it still a dad-son relationship or trainer-boxer?
It's both to be honest with you: He's my dad. He's my trainer. So he always going to be there basically.
You've proven the ability to deliver the knockout punch in two of your past four fights, but the past two have gone the distance.
I need a knockout. [Laughs.] Yeah. I'm not looking for a knockout. Well, I always look for the knockout, but I will love to get a knockout because I haven't got one in a year. If I don't, I am happy with a 12-round decision. I always got the mentality of knocking somebody out.
But if you do get the knockout early, then your fans in Puerto Rico won't get to see that much of you in the ring.
I think they will be happy if it's short and simple. [Laughs.] It's going to be crazy. Everybody loves a knockout. A knockout is what always makes your stock go higher. So, yeah, I would love to go in there and knock him out.
You sit at the top of this division, but what fuels your hunger?
It's just the beginning, man. It's just the beginning. I would love to just keep doing this for the rest of my life. Getting paid and all that. It's the beginning. I'm hungry. I'm going to keep on going.
You've been pretty successful in this weight class. What's the possibility of going up [fighting at 147 pounds] and facing some of the bigger names in the sport.
I would love to do it, but right now we got to worry about March 15. I'm feeling good about March 15. I'm focused, and I can't wait to get the job done.
Do you believe you're being overlooked at all for bigger fights, pay-per-view fights you could headline?
Nah. It's just all about timing. It's all about timing, to be honest with you. Everything is about time. My time is coming.