Elijah Garcia (left) and Kevin Salgado at Friday’s weigh-in. (Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime)
Middleweight Elijah Garcia may be 19 years of age, but his mindset is that of a cagey veteran.
Garcia hopes to build on the success of his last fight as he faces Kevin Salgado tonight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 10-round bout will open the Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast that will be headlined by the anticipated fight between unbeaten lightweights Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia.
At Friday’s weigh-in, Garcia weighed in at 159.2 pounds. Salgado weighed 159.3 pounds.
Garcia (14-0, 12 knockouts), who resides in Phoenix, Arizona, had a breakthrough performance in his last bout on March 4, scoring a knockout win over Amilcar Vidal in a clash of unbeaten middleweight prospects. Garcia’s previous fight took place on December 17, when he knocked out once-beaten Cruse Stewart in the second round.
Standing across from Garcia tonight will be Salgado (15-1-1, 10 KOs), who is coming off a knockout win over journeyman Gilberto Flores on December 15. In his previous fight on September 4, Salgado, who is originally from Mexico City and now resides in San Antonio, Texas, lost a unanimous decision to junior middleweight prospect Joey Spencer.
Despite the success in recent fights, particularly his last performance against Vidal, Garcia understands that he can’t overlook Salgado.
“This will be the toughest fight of my career,” said Garcia earlier this week. “Salgado has gone 10 rounds before and has never been knocked out, so I know he’s got a great chin. My plan is to have my hand raised by any means possible. If the knockout comes, I’ll be happy, but I’m prepared to go the distance, if need be.”
Garcia’s career is moving fast, having already fought 15 times since turning pro in 2020. After fighting on club shows in Mexico, followed by larger cards promoted by Matchroom Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), he made his Showtime debut in his win over Vidal. He understands an impressive victory would bring about even more opportunities later this year.
“It’s simple: A victory [over Salgado] gets me bigger fights against top-level competition,” said Garcia, who is trained by his father, George. “I know if I keep winning, all the big fights will happen. I have big dreams to become the next big Mexican star in boxing, but I’m going to take it one fight at a time.
“I’m only 19 years old, so for me to be fighting on the big stage like this is a testament to my team and all the hard work we’ve put in.”
Garcia has an TV/fan-friendly style that makes for action fights. However, he knows that this stage of his career is all about developing to become a better all-around fighter.
Becoming a legit contender is still several months and fights away, but the path he is on now, as long as he continues to win, is becoming more certain with each fight. Garcia understands that the journey is more a marathon than a race and is willing to commit to that goal to make his dream come true.
“Everyone will see a better version of me when I step in the ring [Saturday night],” said Garcia. Every day in training camp is another day closer to making my dream of becoming a world champion a reality. I have a long way to go, but I take my training very seriously, because I know how hard it is to get to the top. It’s a family affair with my dad and my grandpa guiding my corner, and we’ve been going hard at our gym in Arizona, where all the magic is happening.
“I’m so grateful to everyone involved in my career, and my plan is to make everyone proud with a monumental performance on April 22.”
Full Davis-Garcia card weigh-in results
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]