Ryan Garcia gets up from an early knockdown to stop Luke Campbell in seven
Ryan Garcia entered the ring Saturday afternoon wearing a gold wreath on his head carried on a litter. “KingRy” left the ring wearing a gold crown on his head, with a belt around his waist and elevated by the boxing world after stopping Luke Campbell for the first time.
Garcia recovered from the first knockdown of his life to come back and use a sharp left hook to the body that ended it at 1:58 of the seventh on the DAZN from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Garcia (21-0, 18 knockouts) won the “interim” WBC lightweight title, while Campbell (20-4, 16KOs) suffered his second-straight loss.
“My performance definitely showed a lot of people who I really am,” Garcia said. “Going into this fight I wanted to show people that you are not what people call you. You are what you choose to be. I chose to be a champion tonight. I didn’t let anything stop me from being a champion tonight. Even when he dropped me, I knew that couldn’t stop me from being champion.
“I told everybody it would be a body shot (that would end the fight). He was very worried about the hook coming, and I’ve had that hook since I was born.”
In the last :30 of the first, Garcia, 22, unfurled a quick combination, but it was clearly evident KingRy had the faster hands. Though Campbell did connect with a right hook that caught Garcia’s attention.
With 2:15 left in the second, Garcia came at Campbell again, forcing the 33-year-old Englishman backwards.
A minute later, Garcia lowered his right hand and Campbell jumped right in over it, belting Garcia with a straight left hand that knocked KingRy down with about 1:15 left in the second. Garcia did get up and fought back.
“I got too excited in the moment,” Garcia said. “I felt I could just walk him down, but he ended up cracking me. So, I had to adjust and calm down. I knew that I could beat him. I had to show that I was a warrior. I was a little dizzy with the knockdown, but I wasn’t worried. He’s not used to going forward, so I just knew I had to cover up.
“He never fights coming forward, so I knew he would back up throughout the fight. I’m naturally a counterpuncher. But today I showed that I can be aggressive, go forward and take it to somebody. I showed I can take it to somebody and knock them out. God told me that it would end with a body shot, and that’s what happened. I want to thank God.”
At the outset of the third, Garcia backed up Campbell again. Garcia was winging wide punches, though they did not appear to hit Campbell, who held his gloves up high around his ears.
With 2:06 left in the fourth, referee Laurence Cole momentarily stopped the fight to warn Campbell about a low blow. About 15 seconds later, Garcia stunned Campbell with a straight right. By then, it seemed, Garcia had overcome the earlier knockdown.
Campbell started the fifth better than he had the previous four rounds. With 1:37 left in the fifth, Cole warned Garcia about keeping his punches up.
Garcia landed a straight left inside last minute, followed by more pressure. Inside the last :10, Garcia ripped Campbell with a left hook to the temple, then caught Campbell with a right.
“He’s very heavy handed,” Campbell said about Garcia. “Even when I was blocking the shots, I could feel them. That was the hardest shot I was ever hit with. I tried and tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I felt him coming on, and I was moving back, and when you move back my body relaxed a little bit and that’s the exact time he hit me.
“He did so well to get up from the shot in the second round! I felt that through my arm and knew it was a beauty but all credit to him, he got up and show he’s got real heart.
“It was a great fight and I knew I was right in the fight and thought I was having a good round in the seventh, but that was just a fantastic body shot. I was ready to attack again and he just timed the punch perfectly, I wanted to beat the count but just couldn’t, you just have to hold your hands up and say it was a great shot from a very talented fighter who is going to go a long way.”
The combo had Campbell in some trouble, and Garcia knew it.
It’s why KingRy went out after Campbell in the opening seconds of the sixth. With less than :40 in the round, Garcia had Campbell retreating under a barrage of pressure.
Midway through the seventh, Garcia was again forcing the action and coming forward. Then with around 1:11 left in the seventh, Garcia released a textbook left hook to the body, which caused a delayed reaction by Campbell.
Campbell took a few steps back, then crumpled to the canvas on a knee while Cole counted him out.
“That’s the first time I was knocked down in my life,” Garcia told Campbell afterward. “You taught me a lot.”
In his post-fight celebration, Garcia made sure to include the other belt holders at 135, like Gervonta “Tank” Davis and Devin Haney, who was in the crowd, as to who might be next.
“Let’s go, I’m ready,” Garcia said. ““I want to be a man of my word. I want Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis. I am ready. People are worried about that one. I want Tank Davis. I would also fight Devin Haney, too. I showed today that I’m special.”
Garcia had the gold to prove it.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.
GET THE LATEST ISSUE AT THE RING SHOP (CLICK HERE)