Ryan Garcia’s rise has been rapid and remarkable. With millions of (mostly female) fans and a social media game that is like-for-like one of the strongest in sports, Garcia appears on the brink of superstardom.
But one crucial question remains – can the 22-year-old heartthrob actually fight at world level? It’s fine hammering pads with a quicksilver volley of blows to enchant an admiring, but mostly non-boxing fanbase – but the pads don’t hit back. Garcia talks a great game, but words offer no defence in a boxing ring.
Later today in Dallas, Garcia’s contest with seasoned, two-time world title challenger Luke Campbell should show us if the flashy Californian is, indeed, a pound-for-pound hope or passing hype.
Garcia is a firm 1/3 favourite with the bookies, but have the oddsmakers got this one wrong? Boxing Social’s intrepid band of writers attempt to predict the outcome of a tantalising lightweight battle, broadcast live tonight on DAZN.
I’d like to see Luke Campbell win over in Texas this weekend. His career has been a strange one, and the golden boy of the London 2012 Olympics has struggled to change gears as he’s staggered through life as a professional.
Campbell is an excellent technical boxer, but I think Golden Boy and the Reynoso camp have spotted something dynamic in Ryan Garcia, and professional boxing rewards a unique, inventive approach.
Garcia starts fast, throwing blurring combinations, while Campbell has a tendency to ease his way into the fight. The Hull man is experienced at the top level, losing to Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko, but I fear those could have been his best, unsuccessful efforts.
KingRy will catch him cold, and shake up Campbell’s plan to cruise to victory over the distance. The odds rarely lie. Ryan Garcia to win by round six. – Craig Scott.
At the end of November a young prospect with devastating power took on an Olympic medalist almost a decade his senior. The novice was the odds-on favourite with the bookmakers, but the veteran was simply too good.
The parallels between Dubois-Joyce and Garcia-Campbell are easy to draw. I, like most, picked Dubois and, while I should probably have learned from my mistake, I am going to go for the untested Garcia to win on points. – John A. MacDonald.
First half of this fight is crucial for Campbell. Garcia’s power and speed will be on show, gain him more Instagram followers and cause Campbell problems. Garcia’s speed of punch only has one gear and if Campbell can tighten the guard, avoid the overhands and shots around the guard, then he can take down a worn out Garcia late, late on. He has to trouble the 21st Century boy with his jab and keep himself in the fight after six rounds. I’m backing Campbell to do all of that. Garcia can get sloppy and I think his ring discipline will go out the window. Campbell TKO11. – Shaun Brown.
One of the key factors in this fight is that Roberto Diaz has got an outstanding boxing brain. If you spend a bit of time with him you pick up a lot of knowledge. He reminds me of Dean Powell in the sense that he often knows when to pick the right fight at the right time. Diaz would be unlikely to push the trigger on this if he had serious doubts (though an interim bout was entertained when Campbell tested positive for Covid-19 and pushed back this fight from December).
Matchroom do not have an equivalent to Diaz in their boxing team and they’ve yet to transition a British fighter to US success. They are still finding their feet over there and as an organisation they are, to use boxing parlance, usually occupying the away corner or serving up a British boxer to a US or Mexican fighter to fill a TV slot.
The problem as I see it with Campbell is that there is a vulnerability about him. That sounds crazy when you consider he hasn’t been stopped, but I recall talking to Billy Graham after his fight against Tommy Coyle and Billy predicted that he’d lose within a fight or two due to this vulnerability. He lost to Yvan Mendy in his next fight and you have to ask if the Coyle fight should have been made earlier in his career. I believe it should have been made earlier rather than teased out.
Sure, Campbell bounced back from his first defeat yet that vulnerability is still there and most British fighters are not used to being in genuinely competitive fights, so we struggle to produce world-level boxers. For most of them, just getting to the point where they can fight the likes of Canelo etc. is a top of the mountain moment rather than a step towards the real summit.
Garcia will seek to exploit this and I think it is the right fight at the right time. Campbell might get stopped for the first time in his career to become the latest in a long line of British fighters who can’t cut it Stateside, which is a larger problem for the UK boxing scene going forward.
If Garcia loses, he will be written off as another Francisco Bojado. The average American sporting fan likes to celebrate winners. The British are happy to just be involved. I think this is the reason Garcia’s team have pulled the trigger on this match-up. – Terry Dooley.
Main image: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions.