Garcia vs. Resendiz: The Makings of a Classic

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Two young, hungry heavy hitters with everything on the line will throw down when Elijah Garcia and Armando Resendiz meet in a battle of middleweight contenders Saturday night on the Canelo-Charlo Pay-Per-View.

The Oxford dictionary’s definition of Marination states that it’s “the process of soaking foods in a seasonal, often acidic liquid before cooking,” to “enhance the flavor, add extra moisture and tenderize meat before cooking.”

Boxing fans are very familiar with the word as it applies to fights that sometimes simmer too long for whatever reason and thus are served a bit dry and less tasty, or to others that are placed on the table before they are given enough time to attain full juiciness and delectability. Any renowned chef or even a regular mom preparing dinner for her family understands that, be it in a home kitchen or in a five-star restaurant, timing is essential if a meal is to receive rave reviews.

Fight fans who have witnessed Elijah Garcia’s meteoric rise from a neophyte 16-year-old pro to sizzling-hot prospect in the middleweight division know that the recently-turned-20 southpaw has the look of the choicest cut of prime rib, and perhaps soon a pugilistic gourmand’s delight in must-see bouts at the highest level of boxing. 

The question is, how much more marination is required before Garcia (15-0, 12 KOs), who takes on the very capable Armando Resendiz (14-1, 10 KOs) Saturday night in the first televised bout of a Premier Boxing Champions event on SHOWTIME Pay Per View (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) from Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena headlined by the main event pitting Undisputed Super Middleweight World Champion Canelo Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) against challenger Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs), the Undisputed Junior Middleweight World Champion who is moving up two weight classes.

Although Garcia is world-rated by every major sanctioning body (No. 8 by the WBC and WBA, No. 9 by the IBF and No. 14 by the WBO), in a very real sense this scheduled 10-round matchup might be regarded as something of a coming-out party. Then again, the same might be said of the 25-year-old Resendiz, ranked ninth by the WBA, who is coming off a signature 10th-round stoppage of former unified super welterweight ruler Jarrett “Swift” Hurd on March 4. 

Whomever wins this matchup of young, hot commodities is sure to be considered for a move up a couple of notches on the crowded middleweight totem pole. A lot of eyes always are on the participants in any TV bout leading up to a marquee appearance by the vastly popular Canelo, hiking the imperative for both scene-setters to deliver peak performances.

“I had my first amateur fight when I was, like, 13 years old,” recalled Garcia, a resident of the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona. “I remember when I was 10 or 11 and everybody wanted to see Canelo fight. To be fighting on his card, opening up the event, it’s real cool. It’s a blessing.”

Like the now-33-year-old Alvarez, who turned pro at 15 and comes from an entrenched family boxing background, Garcia seemingly was born and raised to follow in the footsteps of his father-trainer, George Garcia, and paternal grandfather, Jorge Garcia, both of whom were fighters. Elijah became a father himself at 16 and now has two young children, who provide him with as much motivation to succeed as do his forebears.

We’re here to win belts and to become one of the greatest. Undefeated Middleweight Contender - Elijah Garcia

“That’s what keeps me going,” he said of his kids at home. “I turned pro because of my son. I have a daughter now. They just push me every day to become great. It’s hard, you know, because of a six-week camp and I’m gone, but after I come back home from a victory there’s nothing better than relaxing with my own family. But it’s not just my kids. I got my mom, I got my father. I have a real small circle, a real close circle. I try to make everybody proud. That’s what it’s all about to me.”

The professional evolution of Elijah Garcia began much as it has for other fighters who dreamed of reaching for that elusive brass ring and someday grasping it. For one of his earliest televised ring appearances a commentator said he was “the prototypical example of a guy padding his wins and losses,” a not-inaccurate observation when you consider that Garcia’s first 10 conquests came against guys who were a collective 43-101-4 at the time he fought them. 

But having begun the marination process with a slight sprinkling of savory ingredients, he has markedly upgraded his level of competition over his five most recent bouts, against progressively more challenging opponents who were a cumulative 53-6-2. Garcia regards his most recent triumph, a 10-round unanimous decision over highly regarded Kevin Salgado – who came in at 15-1-1 – as his toughest test to date, but that might change if the Resendiz who upset Hurd continues to push the envelope for someone who believes his eventual ceiling will be a legitimately great world champion.

“He came off a real good victory over Hurd,” Garcia said. “He stopped him. I don’t think anybody saw that coming. I look back at my last fight against that dude Kevin, who was a Mexican Olympian. Kevin might have a little more skill, but I know that Resendiz is going to fight hard. He does not plan on losing. That’s what makes him real dangerous.”

Not that long ago, Garcia mused that he might somehow wangle a title shot in 2024, which might prove to be a hasty projection. He since has reset his timetable for such a possible eventuality, but not by all that much. “I see myself at 20, 21, 22 years old winning a world title,” he said. “Some of those old school fighters won their titles young, fighting hard, fighting the best opponents, trying to make history.

“I truly believe I’m good enough. My team believes I’m good enough. That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to win belts and to become one of the greatest. But we don’t want to take too big of a leap too soon. We need more experience (before) fighting those world-class fighters. But if we get the opportunity, I don’t see why we’d turn it down. I don’t think anybody can beat me if I train my hardest. I have the best team, I have the best management, I have the best promotion.”

The steak is on the skillet. Its sizzle is increasing, its aroma ever more tempting. All that remains to be determined is whether what appears on the plate  at some point is worthy of the mouth-watering anticipation.

For a closer look at Garcia vs Resendiz, check out their fight night page. 

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