This Friday, live on UFC Fight Pass, boxing returns to Southern California as Dibella Entertainment hosts a card from the Sycuan Casino & Resort in El Cajon.
The card has been filled with title fights and is headlined by WBA Super Lightweight Champion Kali Reis (17-7-1), defending her title against Diana Prazak (14-3).
As you look through the fight card on BoxRec, you will find that there is a Mexican heavyweight prospect by the name of Elvis Garcia (11-0) fighting that night.
When you pull up his profile, you will notice that he is 31 and has maintained an active career since turning pro in 2017.
Elvis has an interesting story which he hopes leads him to the highest level of success in the sport, which is a world title.
Elvis Garcia was born in a small city called Puerta de Mangos in Mexico. As it was explained to him, as a young child, his father brought him over illegally to the US and to Umatilla, Oregon.
Growing up with his parents and two siblings, things weren’t great for the Garcia family. Both parents worked in the fields, picking cherries and apples, while little Elvis sat off to the side, eating some of the pickings, since his parents could not afford childcare.
Elvis went to school, got his education but grew up mostly with his sister, because his brother left the house to start working at age 16.
Dipping his toes into the sport of Greco-Roman wrestling in high school, Elvis competed in the state competitions and brought home a medal to his school. It was a significant achievement for him as the school up to that point did not have an athlete who was able to earn a medal at the state level.
After graduating high school in 2008, Elvis started working, and found himself employed at a Walmart Distribution Center. When he was about 22, an MMA gym opened in the small town of Umatilla and Elvis’ friends convinced him to go and check out the place. Originally, he joined the gym to lose weight as he had no desire to fight or compete at any level.
Once he started to train, he quickly came to grow more fond of the training, and he decided to have an amateur bout. “After my first amateur bout, once I got in it, adrenaline and confidence are what changed my mind. I realized that I had a natural talent and needed to show it,” said the fighter.
Elvis Garcia would spend the next five years training and fighting in the amateurs. Since the gym in his hometown was an MMA gym, he would drive five to six hours (10-12 roundtrip) to Tacoma, WA a few times a week to get some work with boxing coaches. Although that meant sleeping in his car most nights so that he didn’t have to make the drive back within the same day, Elvis was passionate about becoming a professional fighter.
In May 2017, the time finally came, and Elvis had his pro debut. When asked about how he felt coming into the fight, he had this to say: “It was really exciting, but I was nervous. I felt so much pressure because I had family and friends in attendance as the fight was in my hometown in Oregon.” The debut came with a TKO victory over DJ Linderman (2-2) in front of his family and friends, which was the beginning of his winning streak.
After staying active in the gym and gaining victory after victory, an unlikely phone call came to his manager from Matchroom Sports Chairman Eddie Hearn. Anthony Joshua was in training camp getting ready for the second Andy Ruiz fight and wanted sparring from a guy who could mimic Ruiz.
Elvis has a reputation throughout the gyms in SoCal so when Hearn reached out to his manager, Gabriel, he said he wanted a fighter with that Mexican heart and heard that Elvis was that guy. The call came in on Saturday and by Monday, Garcia was at the airport.
When asked about the whole experience, Elvis said, “My team told me that I was going to be heading to London to spar with AJ. It was nice because I got to see a little bit of what the high level was, how AJ trains and eats. It was a really nice experience.”
Things must have gone well as the unified heavyweight champ would later label Elvis as his “secret weapon” during the preparation for the second Ruiz fight.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2021, Elvis was starting his training camp in Indio, CA with Coach Joel Diaz. It was there that he was able to give now Olympic Gold Medalist Jalolov Bakhodir some work as a sparring partner prior to his trip to Tokyo.
That type of experience has given Elvis the tools necessary to sharpen his skills as an all-around fighter. Garcia picked up a win against Derek Cardenas (8-6) in March and another in June, against Daniel Cota (20-8-1).
From his last fight in 2020 until now, Elvis has gone from weighing about 278 to now weighing in the low 220s. Elvis realizes, it seems, the time is now for him to step it up, as he is right at what most would consider a person’s physical prime in the sport of boxing.
For this camp, he isn’t doing anything different and doesn’t know much about his opponent Joel Shojgreen (10-2), as the original foe pulled out of the fight due to an illness. He will look to see if there is any footage out there on Joel, he informed me.
For the fans that are coming out to the Casino or watching the fight on the UFC Fight Pass, he has this to say: “Come support me as I have been training really hard and would like to show all of you what I’ve been working on. Being really close to home, it’s going to be nice to have family and friends there to support me.”
My Three Cents:
While writing this article, a thought came to mind… I wonder if Elvis Garcia enjoys or despises the site of cherries and apples, considering he was eating them as a kid while his parents worked. When I asked him about it, he said, “I love apples and cherries to this day!”
Elvis Garcia is in a division that always attracts the eyeballs and attention of both the casual and purists of the sport. On Friday, Elvis looks to continue his momentum and produce the kind of victory that will get his name thrown in the hat as a heavyweight contender. Will Elvis Garcia become the next Mexican Heavyweight contender? Tune into UFC Fight Pass this Friday and see if he is going to be placed on your radar as one to watch.