He backed up the challenger into the ropes and landed a flurry of left hooks, his signature blow. Garcia absorbed Herrera's return shots. The awkwardness of Garcia's early rounds had dissipated by then, as he opened up Herrera's defense. And the crowd loved every bit of it.
"I know now every time I step in the ring what I've got to do because my opponent is going to bring it," Garcia said. "I had to make adjustments to the way he was fighting me, but that's what champions do. They adjust."
Garcia entered the ring accompanied by Puerto Rican rapper Daddy Yankee. His team waved the island's flag and a man danced wearing a folkloric vejigante mask. Garcia had a Puerto Rican flag stitched onto his red-and-black trunks.
The crowd booed Herrera and drowned out Garcia's introduction with a loud ovation. The 10,152 fans chanted "Danny, Danny" before the bell had even rung.
He cut Herrera midway through the eighth round, sending the challenger to his corner with blood under his left eye. Herrera opened the next round with force, however, tagging Garcia with a left hand over the top. He backed Garcia into the ropes with another left hand late in Round 9, but the champ escaped. He drew Herrera into the middle of the ring, and the two traded blows until the bell ended the round.
In the first round, Garcia used a swift combination before putting Herrera into the ropes with a right hand. He then followed the challenger to the next corner and threw a wild right - that just missed - to open the final 60 seconds.
The champion returned to his right hand early in the second round as he tried to make room for the powerful left hook. Herrera cracked him with a left to the face, but Garcia powered through and returned two right blows.
Herrera (20-4) started to crack in the sixth round after Garcia slowed him with a combination to the body. He then found Herrera with a left to the face after the challenger tried to duck away. Garcia backed himself into the ropes throughout the fight - even once square into his own corner - but his leg speed let him dance away unscathed.
On the undercard, heavyweight Deontay Wilder collapsed North Philadelphia's Malik Scott with a one-two combination in the first round to earn the technical knockout win. Wilder hit Scott with a left hook to the side of the head and followed with a straight right to the face. Scott (36-2-1) fell into the ropes and tried unsuccessfully to get up. Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs) celebrated with a salsa dance.
Scott said it was the left hook that caused the trouble.
"I got caught. I don't really remember what happened. I didn't see the shot coming," Scott said. "I'm so disappointed."
The win makes Wilder the No. 1 contender for the World Boxing Council title, which is vacant.
"I've got power, natural power that you can't buy," Wilder said. "I didn't expect the fight to go this fast, but you have to understand that I've got power in both hands and speed. And because of that you're liable to get knocked out."
Middleweight Daniel Jacobs moved closer to a world-title shot with a first-round knockout of Milton Nunez. The 27-year-old Jacobs (26-1, 23 KOs) is hoping to fight fellow New Yorker and WBO titlist Peter Quillin this summer at Brooklyn's Barclays Center.