T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas - Exciting middleweight Elijah Garcia (15-0, 12 KOs) grinded out a unanimous decision victory over Kevin Salgado (15-2-1, 10 KOs) after 10 rounds of action. The 19-year-old Garcia won by scores of 95-94 and 97-92 twice.
"It feels great to get this win on a big stage,” said Garcia. “I feel like I'm getting better with each fight. I know I have a long way to go, but I like where I'm at. I'm hoping to get right back in the ring soon."
“I felt like I won,” said a frustrated Salgado post-fight. “By a small margin, but I should have won.”
Mexico’s Salgado got off to a strong start in the first three rounds, breaking through Garcia’s defense and busting Garcia’s nose to take control of the early action. Late in round five, Garcia started to find spots for his power shots and was stronger defensively, holding Salgado below a 40% connect rate for each of the remaining rounds after Salgado hit that mark in each of the first three.
“I was standing a little too still trying to fight on the inside,” said Garcia. “Salgado is a tough opponent. He was real tough, real strong and I just had to move and box a little bit. Other than that, it was a good, hard 10 rounds. I give my opponent 100 percent props.”
In round six, Garcia connected on a powerful straight left hand that pushed Salgado back and appeared to potentially hurt him before he was saved by the bell. Salgado returned in round seven to target Garcia’s body, but was ultimately deducted a point by referee Robert Hoyle after multiple warnings earlier in the fight.
“I’m upset because I felt like this was a really good fight,” said Salgado. “The referee kept getting in my way. I got a point deducted from me but didn’t say anything when Garcia hit me in the back of the head. It felt like swimming against the current. Mexicans always come to fight against everyone and everything: The judges, the opponent, the refs, the home fans. None of that got in my way to keep me from moving forward.”
The punch stats reflected Salgado’s early lead as he held an 81-70 advantage in power punches landed through six rounds, with the final tally ending nearly even (139-138 for Salgado). Overall, Garcia out-landed Salgado in five of the last six rounds to clinch the victory and continue to build into his contender status at a young age.
“I just have to continue getting better in the gym every single day,” said Garcia. “That’s what it’s about. I learned a lot today. It was my first time going past six rounds and I got the full 10. Fights like this will get me closer to a world title.”