After fighting his way to the top of the welterweight division and earning not only the prestigious 2002 Fighter of the Year award from numerous media and boxing outlets, and recognition as one of boxing’s best pound for pound, you just know that it would take more than a series of injuries to his rotator cuff and elbow to hold back Vernon Forrest. Forrest made a successful return to the ring in July with a second round stoppage of once beaten Sergio Rios, and on Friday, October 21, the former 1992 Olympian will continue on his road back to the world championship when Goossen Tutor Promotions presents his ten round junior middleweight battle against tough veteran Elco Garcia in a bout that will be televised live on FSN’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period” from the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California.
Forrest (36-2, 27 KOs), a member of the 1992 US Olympic team, won his first world championship at 147 pounds by defeating Raul Frank in 2001. The Augusta, Georgia native would relinquish that crown in order to fight the then-pound for pound king, Shane Mosley in 2002. Forrest dropped Mosley in the second round en route to a 12 round decision win, and repeated the feat six months later. Forrest would lose his title to Ricardo Mayorga in 2003 and drop a controversial 12 round decision to the Nicaraguan in the rematch, but his worst setback was the series of surgeries he underwent to repair his rotator cuff and elbow. But with those medical issues out of the way, Forrest is determined to rise to the top again, this time as a junior middleweight.
An eight year veteran of the ring, Durango, Colorado’s Elco “The Animal” Garcia (18-3, 8 KOs) is determined to score the upset on October 21. An aggressive fighter with power in both fists, Garcia is currently riding a three fight winning streak, with each win coming via TKO. In his last bout, on July 23, he stopped Felipe Santana in six rounds. "This is really the first time in my career I've been active and my confidence is sky high. I plan on being the second Latino to knock out Forrest," said Garcia.
“Vernon is the man that convincingly beat Shane Mosley twice, the two-time conqueror of Oscar De La Hoya; and brazenly took on the challenges of one of the most dangerous fighters at the time in Mayorga when he didn't have to. That's why the fans and the network's love him, he is a real champion, and always wants to prove it," stated promoter Dan Goossen.
"Don't call it a comeback. I've been here for years," said Forrest. "It's been a long time coming and a lot of ups and downs and disappointments in trying to get back. I haven't been fighting, not because I didn't want to fight, but because of the physical (ailments)."
Forrest, 34, continued, "I got so many cortisone shots that my joints deteriorated and just got worse. With the rotator cuff damage and constant fighting, it ended up also damaging my elbow. So after the Mayorga bouts I knew I had to have surgery because it was affecting my performance inside the ring. So I had the surgery on my shoulder and elbow the same day and after following my rehabilitation, the shoulder still hurt and I turned to Dr. (Tony) Daly in Los Angeles, who performed another surgery on the shoulder, and now I'm back stronger than ever," the Atlanta native said.
“Vernon is still a young man in boxing terms, and one of the most talented fighters in the world today,” said Goossen. “He needs to get by Garcia, who is a rough and tough challenge for anyone, then I believe he’ll be ready to take over the junior middleweight division.”
A true class act, in and out of the ring, Forrest looks to propel himself right back into the division's elite with the next step being Garcia. "I'm not much on bragging, but I believe there is no one that can beat me at 154 pounds today."
Doors open at 5:30pm with the first bout beginning at 6:00pm and the BDSSP telecast to kick off at 7:30pm.
For tickets, priced at $150.00 (Ringside), $125.00 (VIP) and $75.00 (General), please call Pechanga Box Office at 951-303-2507 or toll free 877-711-2WIN