ONTARIO, California – Elijah Garcia’s gamble paid dividends Saturday night.
The 19-year-old middleweight prospect dropped and stopped previously undefeated contender Amilcar Vidal in the fourth round of their 10-round fight on the Brandon Figueroa-Mark Magsayo undercard at Toyota Arena. Referee Jack Reiss stopped their bout at 2:17 of the fourth round, as soon as Vidal fell to the canvas after Garcia landed a barrage of punches.
Garcia (14-0, 12 KOs), of Wittmann, Arizona, beat by far the most formidable opponent of his three-year professional career. Vidal, of Montevideo, Uruguay, lost for the first time as a pro (16-1, 12 KOs).
Fighting Vidal was an ambitious, unusual move for a fighter who’s still a teenager and entered the ring with just 13 professional fights on his record. Garcia, who made his pro debut as a 16-year-old in Mexico, wants to fight for a middleweight title by the time he is 21 or 22, however, and Vidal came into their bout ranked ninth among the WBC’s 160-pound contenders.
“I stay ready and mentally I’m strong,” Garcia told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the ring. “I know mentally I might have lost the first couple of rounds, but I was breaking him down. He started backing up. He’s a great opponent. No disrespect to him. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Garcia’s straight left landed with just under 1:40 on the clock in the fourth round. It was his right hook, however, that wobbled Vidal with 51 seconds to go in the fourth round.
Garcia knew Vidal was badly hurt by that shot and attacked him. He landed two left-right combinations that helped knock Vidal to his gloves and knees with 43 seconds remaining in the fourth round.
Reiss stopped the fight as soon as Vidal went down.
“I caught him and I finished him,” Garcia said. “I’m not sure what I hurt him with, but I know I hurt him and for me being 19, I have the maturity to tell if they’re hurt or not.”
Garcia landed a thudding left to Vidal’s body with less than a minute remaining in the third round. A straight left by Garcia split Vidal’s guard and knocked him backward 50 seconds into the third round.
Backed against the ropes, Vidal landed several straight rights and a left hook during the final minute of the second round. Garcia began bleeding from his nose during that sequence, but he didn’t appear hurt by any of the flush punches Vidal landed.
Garcia connected with a straight left a little more than a minute into the second round. Vidal lunged forward and landed a left hook 30 seconds into the second round.
Garcia tried to go to Vidal’s body in the opening minute of their fight. Both boxers mostly kept their defense tight during the first round, but Garcia landed a left and then a right to Vidal’s body just before it ended.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.