Saturday afternoon (Jan. 2, DAZN, 3 pm ET) from Dallas in the first big main event of 2021, lightweight prospect and rising potential superstar Ryan Garcia will step up the competition in a big way, as he faces former title challenger and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell in a DAZN main event.
This is the sort of fight that not only has the 22-year-old Garcia (20-0, 17 KO) been asking for, but fans have wanted to see the popular social media phenomenon take, and he took it when it got here. Campbell (20-3, 16 KO) is a really solid pro at the very, very least, and still a bona fide contender at 135. It’s a major step up for Garcia, but one he’s asked to get, and one he’s confident about.
How do our staffers see the matchup? We’ve got the picks in.
Someone’s gonna look stupid Saturday. It’s either me or a bunch of you. I accept that.
Garcia in 4. Garcia KO-4
Let’s get the new year started off right! I stood by while Scott continually blasphemed good ol’ Luke Campbell by predicting Garcia to KO him in FOUR rounds for most of 2020. I mean lord have mercy, if Garcia gets Campbell (by far the best opponent he’s ever faced) out of there in four rounds, I’ll fuckin’ vinyl wrap my car ‘KingRy’. I know Garcia has the makings of a true star in this sport because of his ability to attract attention but he’s also been very carefully handled to this point, which I wouldn’t mind so much if he wasn’t talking big shit all the time.
I personally wouldn’t mind seeing this guy get his ass handed to him in the ring, so it sort of pains me to see that he’s aligned himself with one of the best trainers in the sport in Eddy Reynoso and is making solid improvements because of it. I’ve still yet to see any real body punching from Garcia, and to me that remains the glaringly biggest hole in his game. As his competition gets better, he’s not going to just be able to skate on fast hands which go headhunting. This is a considerable step up so far as I can tell, as Campbell is much more well-rounded and experienced. I’m praying he’ll use that to deal me some satisfaction. Campbell UD-12
How to Watch Garcia vs Campbell
Patrick L. Stumberg
Despite a persona seemingly custom-made to engender antipathy, Garcia’s talent is legitimate. His speed and power are eye-catching in the extreme, and they’ve thus far proven magnificently effective against those who find themselves in the firing line. What’s missing at the moment is footwork; while he demonstrated far better movement against Romero Duno and Francisco Fonseca than he did against prior foe Jose Lopez, particularly when it came to getting pivoting away from pressure, he’s still worryingly flat-footed.
That’s what makes this fight so interesting. Campbell’s legs carried him past the pressure of Yvan Mendy in their rematch, and though the Frenchman can’t hope to compare to Garcia’s firepower, he’s a lot more dogged in his pursuit. Garcia will find it profoundly difficult to keep Campbell where he wants him, and we’ve yet to see him have to really press that issue against quality opposition.
Whether it’s legitimate analysis, a personal distaste for Garcia seeping in, or something else, I like Campbell here. He survives a few rough rounds to take over down the stretch, dancing circles around and potshotting an increasingly frustrated Garcia for the win. Campbell UD-12
If you’re to believe the bookies on this one, they are giving Campbell around a 25% chance of winning this fight. As much as I concede that Garcia is the slight favourite on Saturday, Luke’s experience and pedigree can’t be slept on. Timing is everything inside and outside of the ring in boxing, and GBP believe the time is now for a Garcia step-up. His lightning hands and left hook inside the ropes are where he can trouble Campbell, but the seasoned southpaw has experience in world title fights, Olympic finals and clambering to his feet numerous times having suffered a knockdown. If Garcia is to put Campbell down, he’s going to have to keep him down. The Brit is hungrier than ever for this one and will be fearful, at 33, and with three losses on his record, that another big chance as a pro may not come knocking.
Garcia is talented. But he’s also hyped and untested. A loss to Campbell wouldn’t be the end of the world for “King Ry” and without that ‘all or nothing’ mentality he may come unstuck if nudged into deeper waters. Let’s start 2021 with a bang and shoot for Luke, late. ENG-GER-LANDDDD!! etc., etc. Campbell TKO-11