Well I’m honestly heart broken, I really wanted to bring the win back for you all. I’m sorry for that. I hope you all enjoyed the fight. Have to take my hat off to @KingRyanG, well done and a massive future ahead for him. I wish him all the best. pic.twitter.com/hCVvillSm2— Luke Campbell MBE (@luke11campbell) January 3, 2021
The questions exist for all potential boxing superstars. Can you handle a true step up in opposition? Can you handle true adversity? Will you climb off the canvas and find a way to win? Those questions are louder the bigger the hype. Ryan Garcia was asked every one of those questions against Luke Campbell in Dallas on Saturday and answered with a resounding "yes," scoring a body shot knockout in the seventh round of their fight for the interim WBC lightweight championship.
Garcia established control through aggression early in the fight, pressuring through Campbell's jab to land his own hard left hooks and straight right hands. The hand speed of Garcia had Campbell uneasy and unable to establish any clear offensive gameplan. But, in Round 2, Campbell landed a huge sweeping left hook that rocked back Garcia's head and dropped the 22-year-old prodigy to the canvas.
Garcia picked himself up off the canvas and battled his way to the end of the second round, composing himself in the corner before immediately establishing control of the fight once again, piling up rounds on the scorecards.
"I've never been dropped in my life," Garcia said after the fight. "I think I got a little too excited over the moment. I knew I was in control and I wanted to dog him. I wanted to crack him and he cracked me. ... I was a little dizzy. I ain't gonna lie. But it wasn't that bad."
Garcia seemed close to getting a stoppage at the end of Round 5, landing a big left hook and right uppercut that sent Campbell stumbling into the ropes. Campbell was saved by the bell before Garcia could follow up, but it felt like it was only a matter of time before Garcia's pressure, speed and power would finish things off.
In Round 7, Garcia closed the show, landing a crushing left hook to the body. Campbell took a knee after a delayed reaction but could not manage to work back to his feet as the referee's count reached 10 to give Garcia the knockout victory at the 1:58 mark of the round.
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Garcia has been criticized by some corners of the boxing world for reasons both classic (good looks and promotional hype) and modern (status as a social media "influencer"). The fight with Campbell, a former Olympic gold medalist and two-time world title challenger who has hung around the elite of the division for years, was viewed by many of those critics as too big of a step up in competition for the young star. Campbell had not been stopped in his three prior losses, including managing to battle back when knocked down by Vasily Lomachenko, giving Garcia a nice feather in his cap.
The rising Mexican-American star basked in the feeling of shutting down those doubts during his post-fight interview.
"I think I showed a lot of people who I really am," Garcia said. "Going into this fight, I wanted to show people that whatever they call you, they wanted to call me a 'social media fighter' and a lot of things. Your teacher may call you things, your parents even, anybody who tries to put you down and tell you you can't become something. Remember, you're not who people tell you you are. You're who you choose to be. I chose to be a champion tonight. I wasn't going to let nothing stop me, even when he dropped me. I got up. It was a good shot. I was cold and he dropped me. I was like, 'Yo, I got dropped. This is crazy.'"
The lightweight division is arguably the most exciting in all of boxing. Young stars such as Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta "Tank" Davis and Devin Haney have taken control at 135-pounds. Despite the accomplishments of all those involved, such as Lopez beating Lomachenko to win three of the four recognized world championships, Garcia may be the man with the most leverage based on his star power both in and out of the ring.
With the ability to call his shot, Garcia said that he'd like to fight Haney, but zeroed in on Davis as his top option moving forward.
"I'm a man of my word," Garcia said. "Let's go, Tank. Let's go. And I see you, Devin Haney. I like him. I want to fight him, too. But I really want to fight Tank. I know people are worried about that one, but I'm ready. I fought an Olympic gold medalist. Lomachenko couldn't stop him. Linares couldn't finish him. I showed today that I'm special."
Elsewhere on the card, Roger Gutierrez pulled off a massive upset in getting the decision over Rene Alvarado to claim the WBA (regular) super featherweight title. The challenger scored three knockdowns en route to claiming the secondary title over Alvarado, who saw his eight-fight winning streak ended in defeat. Gutierrez was emotional after the win, announcing that the fight was in honor of his mother who died early in December.
Fight card, results
- Ryan Garcia def. Luke Campbell via TKO - Round 7 to claim WBC interim lightweight title
- Roger Gutierrez def. Rene Alvarado (c) via unanimous decision (113-112, 113-112, 113-112) to win the WBA (regular) super featherweight title
- Felix Alvarado (c) def. DeeJay Kriel via TKO - Round 10 to retain IBF junior flyweight title
- Raul Curiel def. Ramses Agaton via TKO - Round 2
- Sean Garcia def. Rene Marquez via majority decision (38-38, 39-37, 39-37)
Garcia vs. Campbell scorecard, live coverage