Garcia: ‘I have big dreams to become the next big Mexican star in boxing’

Undefeated 19-year-old rising middleweight sensation Elijah Garcia will look to move one step closer to achieving his “big dreams” of boxing stardom and becoming one of the future faces of Mexican boxing when he takes on Kevin Salgado in the pay-per-view telecast opener of the highly anticipated Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia SHOWTIME PPV® production on Saturday, April 22 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

“It’s simple, a victory gets me bigger fights against top level competition,” said Garcia (14-0, 12 KOs). “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.”

Fighting out of Phoenix, Ariz., Garcia earned a career-best victory in March, blasting out the previously unbeaten Amilcar Vidal in the fourth-round on SHOWTIME® to announce his presence in the 160-pound division. Now he’ll step up to compete on boxing’s biggest stage, kicking off the pay-per-view telecast leading up to a long-awaited main event.

“Words can’t describe how excited I am,” said Garcia. “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. I want to personally thank everyone who made this fight happen. 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.”

Prior to bursting on the scene in March, Garcia had a busy 2022, racking up four victories, including three knockouts, punctuated by a second-round TKO over Cruse Stewart that streamed live on SHOWTIME SPORTS® digital platforms. As he prepares for April 22, led by his trainers, father George and grandpa George, Sr., Garcia believes that he’ll step into the ring an improved fighter from his last appearance.

“Everyone will see a better version of me when I step in the ring next week,” 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.”

Across from him on April 22 will be the veteran Mexico City-native Salgado (15-1-1, 10 KOs), who is the younger brother of former super featherweight world champion Juan Carlos Salgado. Now training in San Antonio, Texas, Salgado most recently earned a knockout in December and according to Garcia will provide his most difficult challenge.

“This will be the toughest fight of my career,” said Garcia. “Salgado has gone ten 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.”

Photos: Franklin Ruiz/Team Garcia

Spencer-Salgado, Aleem-Plania added to Ruiz-Ortiz undercard

Unbeaten super welterweight Joey Spencer will battle Mexican contender Kevin Salgado in a 10-round showdown highlighting PBC action live on FOX and FOX Deportes beginning at  8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on September 4 during Labor Day Weekend from Arena in Los Angeles.

Prior to the FOX broadcast, undefeated top super bantamweight contender Ra’eese Aleem takes on Mike Plania in a 10-round attraction live on FS1 and FOX Deportes beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

These two exciting matchups will lead up to a stacked FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View event at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT which is headlined by the highly-anticipated heavyweight clash between former unified heavyweight world champion Andy “The Destroyer” Ruiz Jr. and hard-hitting top contender Luis “King Kong” Ortiz meeting in a WBC Heavyweight Title Eliminator.

The 22-year-old Spencer (15-0, 10 KOs) turned pro in February 2017 and immediately caught the eye of fans and pundits with his combination of speed, power and athleticism. Following an impressive 2020 campaign, the Linden, Michigan native added three more victories to his ledger in 2021, including his first eight-round fight as he earned a unanimous decision over James Martin in July. Most recently, Spencer kicked off his 2022 with another unanimous decision victory, this time besting Ravshan Hudaynazaro in March.

“I can’t wait to get back in the ring on September 4,” said Spencer. “I’m training extremely hard and I’m in amazing shape. This is a great opportunity for me to shine on a big stage and really show what I’m capable of. I’m looking forward to bringing the fans lots of excitement!”

A native of Mexico City, Salgado (14-0-1, 9 KOs) is the younger brother of former super featherweight champion Juan Carlos Salgado and now fights out of San Antonio, Texas. The 24-year-old turned pro in late 2016 and delivered knockouts in six of his first nine outings. After scoring three-straight knockouts between September 2019 and February 2021, Salgado returned to the ring in October 2021 to defeat Ricardo Banuelos Cernas by unanimous decision before most recently fighting Bryant Perrella to a split-draw in his U.S. debut in April.

“Training camp has been great and I’m way ahead of schedule heading into this fight,” said Salgado. “I know I’m facing a solid fighter who’s a good counter puncher, but I’m preparing to counter that style. This is going to be a very interesting fight, because I’m training to deliver a knockout and win in tremendous fashion.”

Owning a top-10 ranking at 122-pounds from multiple sanctioning bodies, Aleem (19-0, 12 KOs) put on the most impressive performance of his career in January 2021 to capture the interim WBA title. Aleem dominated in a battle of unbeatens, dropping Victor Pasillas four times before eventually stopping him in round 11. Raised in Michigan and training out of Las Vegas, the 31-year-old Aleem had stopped his past seven opponents inside the distance before most recently earning a decision victory over Eduardo Baez in November 2021. 

“The time is now to take that next step in my career toward a world title shot and I know that a win in this fight will put me on the right path,” said Aleem. “I’ve been waiting for the chance to show everyone why I’m the best super bantamweight in the world. I’m never in a boring fight and you can expect fireworks once again on September 4. I’m going to let my hands send a message to the rest of the division.”

The 25-year-old Plania (26-1, 13 KOs) dropped Joshua Greer twice in their June 2020 clash on his way to a career-best decision victory, which he followed up in April 2021 by defeating Emmanuel Mogawa, before stopping Ricardo Nunez in November. A native of General Santos City in the Philippines, Plania has put together an 11-fight winning streak since a 2018 decision loss against former champion Juan Carlos Payano. Plania has fought professionally since 2014, with five of his last six outings taking place stateside.

“Ever since I beat Joshua Greer to put myself in the world rankings, I have been looking for an opportunity to fight the best at 122 pounds and to secure a world title shot,” said Plania. “On September 4, I will show everyone I deserve to fight for the title. I want to thank my whole team for putting me in this position and I can’t wait to get in there and show what I can do.”