Ryan Garcia shows he’s worthy of the boxing world’s attention as he becomes the first to stop Luke Campbell
RYAN GARCIA proved he’s more than just a pretty face when he dropped Luke Campbell for the count in round seven of their lightweight showdown in Texas. A rip-roaring left hook to the body – a finishing blow of the highest quality – is destined to be seen time and again on his social media channels.
It ended a dramatic fight in an instant. It exhibited more about him as a boxer than his millions of Instagram followers ever could. What came before told us plenty about Garcia, too.
After a hectic opening round in which the 22-year-old scored with a quick straight right but swallowed a hefty counter left, Garcia set upon Campbell in the second. The 2012 Olympic champion watched the attacks carefully, prodded the starlet with a range-finding right to the body before unleashing a sweet left hook to the jaw. The impact caused Garcia’s head to swivel, his body to collapse and the DAZN commentators to remember there was another fighter in the ring worth referencing.
Briefly, it looked like the 33-year-old Yorkshireman had upset the odds. But Garcia hauled himself from the canvas and out of the crisis on steady legs. His head was clear before the bell sounded to end the session.
“I’ve never been dropped in my life, I was too excited,” Garcia admitted afterwards. “I thought I could crack him and he cracked me. I was a little dizzy, I’m not going to lie. But I thought, ‘what’s the worst he can do now? I’ll just block’.”
He was forced to do exactly that as Campbell remained dangerous in the third round. The 33-year-old was boxing intelligently from his southpaw stance and scored several times with left hands. But the favourite’s confidence was growing despite many of his own blows landing on Luke’s gloves.
Trained by Eddy Reynoso and cheered on at ringside by his gym-mate Canelo Alvarez, Garcia was threatening with both hands. At times he was over-eager but the power of his punches could be seen on Campbell’s reddening face. At the end of the fifth, a huge left socked the underdog on the top of the skull. Campbell’s body shuddered and at the bell he groggily retreated to the ropes with his back to Garcia before instinctively lifting his hands to defend himself from punches that were not coming his way.
The brash American went for the finish in the sixth. Canelo rose from his seat and urged Garcia to slow down. He acted on the advice and calmed his wild arms. Campbell was still having success but he was working harder and harder to stay out of trouble.
The Englishman had been inactive since August 2019, when he lost a decision to Vasiliy Lomachenko. Garcia had fought twice since, albeit briefly. He knocked out Romero Duno inside a round in November 2019 last year before impressing in February last year when he iced gatekeeper-cum-fringe contender Francisco Fonseca in just 80 seconds. In the seventh round of the biggest test of his career, any doubts that he could do the same to Campbell disappeared.
Garcia, 21-0 (18), forced Campbell back and let fly with his left hand. The older man braced himself for the shot but raised his hands to cover his head.
“He was very worried about a hook coming,” Garcia said later. “I’ve had that hook since I was born. He was worried about it going up top.”
The blow whizzed and curled beneath Luke’s arms and slammed into his stomach. Campbell briefly stepped back before the potency of the shot caused him to drop to his knees. Badly hurt, he bravely found his feet but the count had already reached 10. At 1-58 of the round, Ryan Garcia – the Instagram darling – threw his fists into the air in victory.
“I showed a lot of people who I really am,” the victor declared. “People wanted to call me a social media fighter. Whether it’s your teacher or your parents telling you who you are, it’s not about them, it’s about you and who you choose to be.
“I was not going to let nothing stop me.”
Ryan Garcia came into this fight with astonishing fanfare. The hype is deafening but in becoming the first to stop Luke Campbell he’s proved he’s worthy of the boxing world’s attention