THERE IS a school of thought that love and boxing don't mix, that a fighter needs to remains tough and just a little bit mean to bring his most effective self to the task at hand.
Former WBC/WBA super lightweight champion Danny "Swift" Garcia, proud father of a 5-month-old baby girl, clearly doesn't subscribe to that theory. Garcia (31-0, 18 KOs) takes on another former world champ, onetime IBF super featherweight titlist Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero (33-3-1, 18 KOs) Saturday night for the vacant WBC welterweight crown at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the first prime-time main event to be televised by Premier Boxing Champions on Fox.
The co-feature pits Amir "Hardcore" Mansour (22-1-1, 16 KOs), the Wilmington, Del., heavyweight contender who trains in Philadelphia, against 2012 U.S. Olympian Dominic Breazeale (16-0, 14 KOs), a former quarterback at Northern Colorado.
Garcia, who smiles a lot under normal circumstances, has much to be happy about these days. For one thing, the WBC earlier this month announced that it had vacated the 147-pound title previously held by the presumably retired Floyd Mayweather Jr., and was elevating Garcia-Guerrero to a bout to anoint Mayweather's successor. It was a fortuitous development for Garcia, who has made only one ring appearance as a full-fledged welterweight, a ninth-round stoppage of Paulie Malignaggi on Aug. 1 in Brooklyn, N.Y.
"This takes me a step closer to fighting for another title, if not in my next (fight), maybe the one after that," Garcia said in early January, before the WBC gave him what amounts to a late Christmas present, or maybe an early Valentine Day's gift.
The 27-year-old Garcia, Philadelphia's first Latino world champion (he is of Puerto Rican descent), figures to be the one celebrating when the action stops. Hailing from the city's Juniata Park section, he is undefeated, in his prime and, oh, yeah, a nearly 7-1 favorite over Guerrero, 32, a Mexican-American southpaw who has lost two of his last four bouts, for welterweight titles held by Mayweather and WBA champ Keith Thurman.
But this fight, perhaps more than any that have come before, is special to Garcia because of the emotions he has for his little daughter, girlfriend Erica Mendez, father-trainer Angel and powerful but secretive promoter Al Haymon. That's a lot of love to spread around, but Garcia figures he's up to the task. So does Angel Garcia, who notes of his son, "A happy fighter is a great fighter, because he has something to fight for. Danny's a very happy fighter now."
Begin with Philly Swift Garcia, a welcome addition to the Garcia family on Aug. 15, only 14 days after her pop handled Malignaggi.
Uh, about that name . . .
"That's how much I love my hometown," said Garcia, grinning widely. "I named her after the city that made me."
With fatherhood comes certain responsibilities, as Angel Garcia has told his son. Any man can be a father, but it takes so much more to be a dad.
"You don't know what it's like to be a dad until you become a dad," Angel said. "It's a special kind of love. It changes a man because you see the real meaning of life."
Danny has heard the message and taken it to heart, so much so that he is dedicating this fight to his daughter. He can't wait until she's old enough to understand that she's an important part of the boxing legacy he still is in the process of creating.
"I spend time with her every day," he said of Philly Swift, who lives with her mother, a model-singer. "It's a great feeling. I'm a father now. I got to man up and be the best father I can be, which means I have to fight smarter. I can't take a lot of unnecessary punishment. I got to protect my future, and my child's future."
The always-quotable Angel is known for his fierce protectiveness of Danny, whom he would pick to win against, well, anybody. And he figures that's the way it's supposed to be.
"One time we went to an Eagles game," Angel said. "I think Michael Vick was the quarterback. We were in the locker room before it started and some of the players were saying how tough the game was going to be, how good the other team was. I thought to myself, 'Wow, these guys are going to lose.' Why even say that kind of stuff about the other team? You want to boost your own team, make them believe they're untouchable, no matter what.
"When Danny fought (Lucas) Matthysse, they wanted me to say that the guy was so good, Danny might lose. I understood. But at the end of the day, you got to practice what you preach. When they wanted me to say what a tough fight Danny was going to have, I said, 'No, it's Matthysse who's in for a tough fight.' Danny won. The way I look at it, if you don't believe in yourself, who will?"
The Garcias also are lavish in their praise of Haymon, the mystery man whose deep retinue of fighters (150-plus) has made him a frequent target of criticism from other promoters, two of whom - Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya - filed nine-figure lawsuits against him on antitrust grounds..
"Before I went with Al, I was 19-0 and the most I made for any fight was $12,000," Danny said. "Two fights later, I was fighting for and winning a world championship. What does that tell you?"
The Garcia-Guerrero winner has been ordered by the WBC to defend the title against mandatory challenger Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs), whom Garcia stopped in four rounds when they fought on July 14, 2012.