Luke Campbell: Apart from more followers on social media, there’s nothing Ryan Garcia has that I don’t
Opposites will attack at the American Airlines Centre in Dallas, Texas on Saturday. Luke Campbell is southpaw, Ryan Garcia is orthodox; Campbell is the tried and tested veteran, Garcia is the hotshot youngster; Campbell is inconspicuous, Garcia loves the spotlight.
Both men, however, have one thing in common. They were elite-level amateur standouts that developed into world-class professionals, and, as a result, fight fans have been salivating over this lightweight collision for months.
Campbell, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring at 135 pounds, is coming off a 12-round unanimous decision loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko last August. It was the Englishman’s second defeat in a world title challenge – the other being a points loss to then-champion Jorge Linares in September 2017 – but neither that or the pandemic has blunted his ambition or drive.
“It’s been a different year, of course, but I’ve been lucky to have a fight to focus on,” Campbell (20-3, 16 knockouts) told The Ring earlier this week. “I’m always training and keeping my mind healthy, plus I’ve been able to turn my attention to opening my own gym, Coolhand Fit24, and put more energy into that than I perhaps usually would have been able to.
“Dealing with setbacks is part of being a boxer, so I’ve been well-prepared for this year. It’s great that we’re going to be kicking a new year off with this fight, especially with DAZN putting it on at such a good time for U.K. fans.”
This is essentially the acid test for Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs), who is rated No. 5 by The Ring. The Los Angeles-based star has been given that lofty rating, as well as top billing in this bout, because of the way he’s been winning, not because of what he’s been winning against. In his last three fights combined, Garcia has fought less than four rounds total, and it’s his blazing handspeed and hitting power that have been eye-catching.
However, what happens when the target is elusive? What happens when the target can take a direct hit and fire back? What happened when Garcia, 22, encounters some adversity? And there are other factors at play. While Garcia’s spectacular blowouts endear him to fight fans, the downside is that he’s had less than six minutes of action in two years. Also, this fight was postponed from December 5, when Campbell tested positive for COVID-19. Who will benefit from the Christmas training sessions? The visitor insists that he’s sharper than ever.
“It’s hard to say that anything good has come out of the delays, because of everything that’s been going on in the world, but it’s certainly allowed me to spend more time with my team and get myself in absolute peak condition,” said the 33-year-old Campbell.
“[Garcia’s] been spoken about as if he’s this elite fighter, so I’ve prepared for someone at that level. If it turns out he’s not, then all the better it will be for me. I’m expecting him to attempt to back up all the talk and I’m also expecting him to get stopped. There are multiple attributes that I have that he doesn’t and that will potentially come as a surprise. Apart from more followers on social media, there’s nothing he has that I don’t.”
Heavy lies the crown for “King Ry”, who will need his best form and maybe a bit more to see off the most formidable challenge of his career to date.
Garcia-Campbell, plus undercard action, will be broadcast by DAZN both in the U.K. and in the U.S.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing