By: Hans Themistode
The critics of Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) were officially muted. At least temporarily. For years now, the young lightweight contender has been told that his good looks and flashy combinations on the heavy bag were good for social media, but not for boxing.
Coming into his lightweight showdown against multiple time title challenger Luke Campbell, Garcia was viewed as the prohibited favorite. Still, there were those who questioned what he was made of. Tonight, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, he showed that he isn’t just style but also substance.
Things started off just how Garcia was hoping for in round one. The California native easily outboxed his man and pocketed the opening frame. The following however, everything went wrong.
Garcia took the center of the ring and attempted to find his range. He seemed to be in complete control until a left hand from Campbell sent him to the deck. The socially distanced crowd rose to its feet while Garcia did the same. For the duration of the round, the 22-year-old grabbed and held in an attempt to clear his head.
The news headlines began writing themselves in between rounds. “We told you so,” “Not all that,” and a slew of other words were beginning to find their way across boxing pages everywhere.
But while pundits began writing his obituary, Garcia started his comeback. In round three, there was no fear of getting dropped again coming from Garcia as he came straight ahead. He banked the round convincingly behind a stiff jab and overhand right. Winning rounds began repetitive as Garcia continued his aggression.
The fifth was Garcia’s most impressive as he had his man visibly hurt. Campbell (20-4, 16 KOs), to his credit, fought back but as round seven rolled by, there was reason to believe that the fight was slipping through his fingers.
During the build-up of their showdown, Garcia believed that he would not only win but do so impressively. A right hand to the body would prove him to be correct as Campbell crumpled over from the shot. Something he would never recover from.
The win for Garcia places him in the mandatory position for WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney. While Garcia has said on numerous occasions that he would entertain a possible matchup, the 22-year-old was adamant about facing WBA belt holder Gervonta “Tank” Davis in his next contest.
“I’m a man of my word,” said Garcia immediately following his win. “Let’s go Tank, Let’s go. I’m ready.”
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