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Ryan Garcia accepts Luke Campbell fight, negotiations to begin

Garcia-Campbell could be coming our way soon enough.

Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev fight in Las Vegas: undercard bouts at MGM Grand Garden Arena Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Ryan Garcia’s name has recently been attached to two fights ordered by sanctioning bodies. The first came about a week ago, when the WBC ordered Garcia vs Luke Campbell, after Javier Fortuna declined to fight Campbell and signed on to face Jorge Linares on Aug. 28 in stead.

The second order came from the WBO, who were offering Garcia vs Emmanuel Tagoe in a final eliminator for their lightweight title, currently held by Vasiliy Lomachenko.

Garcia had quickly said on social media that he was ready for the fight with Campbell, and now The Athletic’s Lance Pugmire says that Garcia has more formally accepted that fight, and that negotiations between the parties will begin.

The WBC’s lightweight situation is a mess and has been since last August, when they let Top Rank talk them into giving Lomachenko a fight with Luke Campbell for the vacant belt, despite Lomachenko already holding the WBA and WBO titles, which meant he wasn’t actually in the WBC rankings. Lomachenko won, then swapped out the recognized title for “franchise champion” status, which means nothing other than “I don’t actually want to be expected to defend this thing,” and Devin Haney was promoted from interim to full titlist status.

When Haney got injured in November and was expected to be out six months from December, he was named “champion-in-recess,” and the WBC ordered Campbell-Fortuna for the vacant belt, with Haney owed a shot upon return. Then COVID came, the sport shut down, everyone was “in-recess,” and Haney complained (fairly enough) until he was eventually reinstated, with Campbell-Fortuna now ordered for an interim belt that had no reason to exist.

Then Fortuna dipped to take the fight with Linares instead, which is apparently for the WBC “Diamond” belt, which is yet another fake thing that means absolutely nothing, and made all the more hilarious by the fact that Fortuna and his team basically said, “No, we will not do the fight you ordered,” and the WBC said, “That’s fine, but can we have some money for you to fight Linares anyway?” and Fortuna and his team said, “Yeah, of course.”

So now we’re at Garcia-Campbell, which is a terrific fight if it gets made. Campbell (20-3, 16 KO) is a solid veteran contender, a 32-year-old southpaw and former Olympic gold medalist, good skills, tested as a pro against high-level opposition. Garcia (20-0, 17 KO) is a 21-year-old would-be phenom, doubted by many because he’s the Tiger Beat fighter, but with some obvious gifts and skills, and perhaps a bit more decent experience as a pro than he gets credit for given his age and experience level. Not that they’re great fighters, but he has fought guys like Jayson Velez, Carlos Morales, and Romero Duno, who are solid opponents for a very young fighter.

Campbell, though, would be an obvious and noteworthy step up, and end of the day even the doubters or “haters” are really just asking for that, in particular because Garcia himself has been asking for that sort of thing lately, saying he’s ready to fight top guys. Well, here’s a chance, or at the very least a major step toward the very top guys if you don’t consider Campbell to be a very top guy.

If it gets done, of course. It’s boxing. In theory, the fight should be easy enough to do. Golden Boy has Garcia, Matchroom has Campbell, and the two sides are both DAZN content providers and have worked together easily many times now. For what it’s worth, Oscar De La Hoya has admitted the problems with Garcia are real, but has also said he definitely won’t be trying to freeze Garcia out or anything like that.

Here’s hoping this gets done without a lot of drama. Boxing fans are aching for actual good, intriguing fights right now, and this would be one to look forward to for sure.

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