Story by: Chip Mitchell
Ryan Garcia put the world on notice that he’s more than a social media sensation. In doing so, the 22-year-old solidified himself as a USDA-certified contender in the 135-pound division. Message to all lightweights: Consider yourself warned!
Garcia, after surviving a knockdown in round two (courtesy of a Luke Campbell looping left), ended the fight with a vicious liver shot at 1:58 of round 7. See video below:
After Garcia rose from the knockdown, Campbell failed to go all out for the finish as Garcia survived the round.
In the next few stanzas, Garcia increased his punch output, often missing wildly in attempts to match Campbell’s 10-8 second round. As the rounds went by, Garcia progressed forward in his attack of Campbell.
“KingRy” eventually found pay-dirt in the fifth as he landed a big left hand that hurt Campbell. Campbell turned his back, retreated to the ropes, and put himself in a terrible spot as Garcia closed in for the kill. As Garcia looked to close the show… DING… the bell sounded to save Campbell from further damage.
In the sixth, the crowd roared in anticipation and Garcia attacked at the bell. Campbell went on the move, but landed a counter shot to remind Garcia of the prior knockdown.
In the final round, Garcia seemed to feint a lead left to the head but instead threw to Campbell’s liver. Campbell took a delayed knee to the canvas as his body sent a message to his brain. PAIN! Right knee down, right glove down. Left knee down, left glove down. As both gloves touched the canvas, it became clear Campbell would not recover in time beat the count. Garcia KO7!
It was the first time Campbell didn’t see the final bell in a professional fight. Certainly a feather in his cap, considering Campbell has faced off with the likes Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jorge Linares .
With the win, Garcia moves to 21-0 (18 KOs). He now holds the “interim WBC lightweight title”, whatever that is. Campbell drops to 20-4 (16 KOs). Garcia has earned the respect of the media, of fans who viewed him as soft, and definitely of Luke Campbell.
As the ending began to sink in, I received a few text messages related to Garcia’s post-fight callout. The texts were similar in nature, all asking in one way or another if I felt Garcia was ready for Gervonta Davis. I laughed the texts off as if to say, ‘Surely you jest.’
After defeating Luke Campbell, Ryan Garcia is ready for any of the young guns. That doesn’t mean he has to fight them. I’d like to see Ryan work on a few things. However, if he does shoot for one of the champions I won’t complain. To my friends who text me I flip the question, “Is the lightweight division ready for The King(Ry)?”
Garcia: “I’ve never been dropped before in my life. Thank you…You taught me a lot,” Garcia (21-0, 18 knockouts) told Campbell, showing his willingness to grow. Campbell, who had been in the ring with Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jorge Linares in title fight losses, tipped his hat to Garcia after suffering his first knockout defeat.
“My performance definitely showed a lot of people who I really am,” said Garcia. “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.”
Campbell: “He is very heavy handed. Even when I was blocking the shots, I could feel them,” said Campbell. “That was the hardest shot I was ever hit with. I tried and tried to get up, but I couldn’t.”
Oscar de la Hoya: “This is the kind of fight where superstars are made,” said De La Hoya. “Down on the mat early for the first time in his career, Ryan got up, rallied, broke down his man and got the knockout. Everyone in the lightweight division should consider themselves on notice. 2021 will be the year of Ryan García.”
Saul Alvarez: “Ryan Garcia showed that he has balls. That is one of the most important things in boxing. And this fight is going to serve him well. Luke Campbell is a good fighter, left-handed, difficult. This fight is going to serve him more than all the ones he has fought.”