Britain's Olympic ace Campbell vs poster boy Garcia for title shot
It’s Britain’s Olympic champion Luke Campbell vs the LA poster boy Ryan Garcia for a shot at the world lightweight crown… get ready for a Texas title shootout
- Ryan Garcia is social media sensation with hoards of fans of both genders
- Luke Campbell will be all business as he attempts to earn third world title shot
- Garcia has devastating left hook and is prised possession of Golden Boy
- Brit thinks Oscar De La Hoya is making a mistake putting his prospect in with him
Cool Hand Luke versus Hot Shot Ryan rings in the New Year for prize-fighting this Saturday night, to the shrill excitement of a new audience for the hard old game of millions of teeny boppers.
While Britain’s champion Olympian Luke Campbell will be watched studiously by boxing fans over here, Ryan Garcia will perform to the squeals of adoring girls across America and Mexico.
Campbell will be all business in the American Airlines Center in Dallas as he strives for a victory which would earn him his third bid for a world lightweight title.
Luke Campbell has experienced top quality opponents such as Vasily Lomachenko (left)
Ryan Garcia is the LA Poster boy with a massive following online and this is a real test for him
Garcia will strut his stuff to the delight of an astonishing social media following comprising 7.5 million on Instagram, two million on TikTok, plus a million or more each on twitter and YouTube.
This phenomenal product of Garcia’s good looks and vivacious personality stems from his California-born US nationality and a deference to his Mexican roots. The left hook from hell which has knocked out 17 of 20 opponents in an all-win career has poured further fuel on the frenzy.
Campbell, at 33 and coming up nine years after his golden exploits at the London Games, is driven by the knowledge that he needs to deliver on that promise by winning his world title sooner rather than later.
Garcia, ten years his junior, carries on those young shoulders the trust of Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya that this is the glittering prospect to not only fill the void left by the departure of Canelo Alvarez from his stable but to supplant the Mexican idol as ‘the biggest name in world boxing.’
Which makes it somewhat surprising that De La Hoya has approved the seasoned and hardened Campbell to take on his prodigy this early in his development.
Garcia is a social media star and will perform to the squeals of adoring girls across America
Campbell is not alone in believing they have made a mistake. He says of Garcia: ‘He may look a sensation throwing hundreds of punches on YouTube but that is very different from the tough challenge I will bring to the ring. My far greater experience will count on the night. What I see in his videos is that I am going to knock him out. Just as I would have done to every one of the soft opponents he’s faced so far.’
That our man from Hull has done in 16 of his own 20 victories. But De La Hoya must have seen something in the three defeats which mar the wrong end of Campbell’s record to convince him that this is a risk worth taking to stamp a credible victim on Garcia’s rap sheet.
Two of those losses came in his previous world title challenges. Narrowly against Jorge Linares while grieving the death of his father. More comprehensively than he cares to admit at the hands of the then No 1 pound for bound boxer in the world, Vasyl Lomachenko. Professional critics of Garcia will join the throngs of believers if he becomes the first to stop Campbell.
The LA poster boy, who wants to separate his image from that of the YouTube celebrities now milking boxing, says: ‘Luke is about to find out that I’m not just an Instagram fighter. I will punish him for that opinion. I will knock him out. There is no way he can beat me.’
The proof of that may depend on the impact Shane McGuigan has made as Campbell’s new trainer. If he has wrought improvements as fast and dramatic as those just seen in Lawrence Okolie – not least in narrowing Campbell’s elongated stance to improve his lateral movement – then Garcia will be in for a harder night than he seems to be expecting.
The winner is mandated by the WBC to challenge Devin Haney for their world title. Campbell would jump at that opportunity.
Garcia will be looking to land the trademark left hook to fulfill his promise of a knockout
Garcia insists would prefer a more glamorous engagement against big-punching crowd-puller Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, who is already a four-time world champion at just 26. Perhaps, with that in view, Garcia regards Campbell as practise for another southpaw.
Even by the standards of final title eliminators, there is an awful lot at stake in this shout-out in deepest Texas.
Can Cool Hand Luke break millions of fluttering female hearts? Only, I suspect, if he can deliver on his promise of a KO.
Otherwise, given the sheer volume of punches and the dynamite left hook coming his way, he will sink beneath another tidal wave of Hot Shot Ryan hysteria.
Garcia v Campbell will be televised live this Saturday night on DAZN UK, available by monthly subscription of £1.99
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