ONTARIO, California – Amilcar Vidal understands that he’ll encounter a powerful southpaw Saturday night who is mature beyond his 19 years.

Elijah Garcia’s ambition is obvious. The confident teenager agreed to battle an undefeated, hard-hitting middleweight contender in order to secure his first exposure on national television.

The 27-year-old Vidal is just as anxious to make a statement of his own by beating Garcia in the opener of Showtime’s tripleheader from Toyota Arena (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).  

“It’s gonna be a tough fight,” Vidal told BoxingScene.com through a translator Thursday after a press conference at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Ontario Airport. “It doesn’t matter how young or experienced my opponent is, I know it’s gonna be a war out there. And, most importantly, I’m a hundred percent both mentally and physically. I’m extremely motivated and I’m ready to roll, and show Saturday night that I’m ready to take another step up in my career.”

Uruguay’s Vidal has worked for the first time for his fight against Garcia with Bob Santos, who has become one of boxing’s more prominent trainers over the past year. Vidal impressed Santos during spirited sparring sessions at Santos’ gym in Las Vegas.

“He’s a very creative fighter on the inside,” Santos said. “I think they’re gonna be in for a shock, as far as creativity. I don’t think [Garcia] has ever fought anybody like [Vidal]. He’s very different on the inside. This kid here, I was kinda looking at like, ‘Wow! That’s God-given.’ So, you recognize that right away.

“I said, ‘OK, let’s just tweak a couple little things, but not much.’ You don’t wanna change his style, his creativity and things of that nature. I think you guys are gonna be pleasantly surprised with some of the creative things he’s gonna be able to do on the inside. I think he’s gonna give this kid things he’s never really saw before.”

Garcia (13-0, 11 KOs), of Wittmann, Arizona, hopes a victory over Vidal (16-0, 12 KOs) places him on course to fight for a 160-pound world title by the time he is 21 or 22.

“I know that he’s a strong fighter,” Vidal said, “so I’ve gotta be focused in every second of every round because, one distraction, and he’s got power. So, I’ve gotta always make sure that I’m on my tippy toes and ready to thwart anything he might try. But I also realize that if I rely on my preparation and I do what I came here to do, I’m gonna be OK.”

Vidal defeated Immanuwel Aleem by majority decision in his last appearance on American television. The Montevideo native out-pointed Aleem (18-3-2, 11 KOs), of Richmond, Virginia, on two scorecards – 97-93, 97-93, 95-95 – to win a 10-round bout Showtime aired as part of the Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano undercard in July 2021 at AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Vidal is 3-0 since he beat Aleem, but Garcia is clearly the toughest opponent he has faced since then.

“With each and every fight,” Vidal said, “I become a more mature fighter, someone that learns from his mistakes, and I keep getting better and better. And if I can keep improving like that, you know, my ceiling keeps raising higher and higher. … In the end, I’m sure you’re gonna see a different Amilcar than you saw in that fight.”

Garcia and Vidal will open a three-bout telecast during which Brandon Figueroa (23-1-1, 18 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, and Mark Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs), of Valencia, California, will fight for the WBC interim featherweight title in the 12-round main event. In the 10-round, 162-pound co-feature, former IBF/IBO/WBA 154-pound champ Jarrett Hurd (24-2, 16 KOs), of Accokeek, Maryland, will end nearly a 21-month layoff against Mexico’s Armando Resendiz (13-1, 9 KOs).

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.