Ryan Garcia is widely considered one of the most exciting talents in the whole of boxing right now, and having won 20 of his first 20 professional bouts, 17 by knockout, it’s clear that the 22-year-old is yet to put a foot wrong. This weekend however could provide a proverbial banana skin for the uber-talented American, when he faces the toughest test of his career against Luke Campbell in a WBC lightweight title eliminator in Dallas, Texas.
With Hollywood good looks and bags of fistic talent, it’s obvious what sort of star power Garcia can command in the world of boxing in a few years time. The comparisons to his promoter, Golden Boy’s Oscar De La Hoya, one of the most successful pugilists of the modern era, are obvious. But, before all the riches and superstardom that await, Garcia must go through Hell, because Campbell, despite being the betting underdog, isn’t going to turn up to the American Airline Center to just make up the numbers.
Campbell is an Olympic gold-medallist and his only defeats came on the scorecards to Yvan Mendy, which he rectified in a rematch, and pound-for-pound stars Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko. His pedigree is pretty solid.
With an 85% KO rate, Garcia’s power is plain to see but unlike his previous 23 victims, Campbell is a wily operator whose experience shouldn’t let him get caught in a firefight with his younger opponent early doors. Garcia, while wholeheartedly a future star, being priced as low as 2/7 to triumph on Saturday night over the vastly more experienced Campbell is a little baffling.
Campbell’s career never took off like 2012 Olympic Games alumni Anthony Joshua but there’s no denying that ‘Cool Hand Luke’ is a bona fide contender at lightweight, and while the likes of Garcia, Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney and Lomachenko might be getting the bulk of the attention at the moment, a win against Garcia this weekend in the Lone Star state (which is certainly possible), will plop Campbell right into the midst of a very, very exciting division.
Garcia versus Campbell is a real treat to kick off the 2021 boxing calendar and it could set the tone for a landmark year in the lightweight division. Should Garcia win, he’ll no doubt be offered a platter of lucrative fights and Campbell will be left with serious questions about the future of his career but, and it’s a big but, don’t rule out the man from Hull throwing a major spanner in the works in the blossoming career of Garcia.