The kid backed it up. On Saturday night at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, Ryan Garcia proved he is not just boy band looks and a social media juggernaut. (Potentially) Golden Boy 2.0 showed he has the ability and the stones to be a threat to Teofimo Lopez and co. in the lightweight division.
The Instagram heartthrob reminded the boxing audience that he is a 22-year-old packed with not just ferocity but some vulnerabilities. Questions were answered, however. In round two a whopping left hand from Campbell dropped Eddie Reynoso’s project on his backside but the Californian got up and got on with it. Five rounds later he planted an explosive body shot on Luke Campbell to end what had been a contest that you could not take your eyes off.
Garcia has now undoubtedly arrived on the world scene. He now finds himself in the position of mandatory challenger for Devin Haney’s WBC title but ‘KingRy’ seems to be hungrier for a fight against WBA holder Gervonta Davis.
The lightweight division is on fire right now with a talent pool that could provide us with fights and moments that could bring the sport further into the USA’s mainstream. But right now, Boxing Social has some questions to ask on this The Monday After… Garcia v Campbell. And stepping up with their knowledge and respected opinions are Mark Butcher, Craig Scott and Luke G. Williams.
Boxing Social: What did you think of Ryan Garcia’s performance against Luke Campbell?
Butcher: “Garcia showed he is a serious puncher at world level. That was a brutal body shot finisher worthy of any highlight reel. Whatever his limitations and shortcomings defensively, and let’s remember he’s still only 22, Garcia is always going to carry a significant threat with that power. If we place the sick bucket to one side and ignore that truly cringeworthy DAZN cheerleading chorus, that was a breakthrough performance where Garcia illustrated cojones, heavy hands and that crucial ability to navigate adversity.”
Scott: “It was exactly the type of performance many expected. Garcia showed some glaring vulnerability, but also showed genuine talent and heavy, heavy hands. The pace at which he fights makes for excellent viewing, and through seven rounds, he never let up, throwing explosive punches. I thought at times Campbell was going to iron him out with another left hand – he seemed open for it – but it was an exciting performance.”
Williams: “Garcia was flawed, thrilling and gutsy. He showed a lot of heart and composure after being decked heavily in the second round. The body shot he landed in the seventh was truly spectacular. His technical vulnerability, punching power and aggression coupled with his star power make him pure box office. He is a fantastic asset to boxing.”
Boxing Social: Who wins between Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney?
Butcher: “I’ve seen more from Garcia than Haney thus far, so I’d edge towards the former after Saturday night. Haney is yet to catch light as a championship force, but he needs a top-notch opponent to bring the best out of him.”
Scott: “I think this is the best option for Garcia at 135lbs. Sure, he’s chanting Tank’s name and [Teofimo] Lopez is the man to beat, but I think Haney is his best bet on the road to superstardom. Haney hasn’t been in with anybody close to Garcia’s (or Campbell’s) levels, and although he’s a very slick, tidy boxer, he doesn’t have that fight-ending power that Garcia possesses.”
Williams: “I think this is an excellent match up and a pick ‘em fight in my view. Technique favours Haney, power favours Garcia. If I was handling Garcia, I’d want another fight or two first against a couple of solid top 15 types. But Garcia will probably take the Haney fight earlier than that. Gun to the head, I’ll take ‘KingRy’ by stoppage but there’s a strong possibility he’d be outboxed.”
Boxing Social: Should Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis be worried?
Butcher: “I don’t think they will be worried, but they will be wary. No-one has done that to Campbell before – it’s possible that Garcia caught Luke at the right time, on the slide post-Lomachenko after a long lay-off. But Garcia’s power is legitimate. I’d place Lopez and Davis clearly ahead of him – they are more seasoned and technically proficient.”
Scott: “No. These are the fights I can’t see Garcia winning… yet. Lopez is a level above, and his unorthodox style would cause Garcia all types of issues. ‘KingRy’ was getting cracked by Luke Campbell with fairly routine left hands – but Teofimo throws shots from all over the place, and with bad intentions every time. I think Gervonta Davis will forever be that awkward fighter that other promoters struggle to get into the ring. He’s an unbelievable talent, and he’s scarily spiteful. I just think if [promoter] Oscar [De La Hoya] could make that fight happen, Davis would dog it out and bully Garcia. But it was interesting to see that Tank is the oldest of the crop by a few years – and we know he loves ballooning up and down in weight. Could Team Garcia time it right? They’d have to.”
Williams: “No, not right now, although if I was them, I’d be jealous of his crossover appeal and earning potential. Garcia isn’t ready for them yet. But if he stays dedicated and maybe learns some Spanish (or Reynoso learns some English) so trainer and pupil can communicate more effectively, then maybe a couple of years down the line they should be. Garcia’s approach and mindset are the crucial factors here – is he content to remain an exciting boxer or does he want to channel and hone his talents in an attempt to become a truly top-level operator?”
Boxing Social: Where does Luke Campbell go from here?
Butcher: “Rightly or wrongly, I think he will fight on and hope for undisputed champion Lopez to move up in weight, freeing up vacant title opportunities. With the right match, Campbell could still win a title belt against a lesser light in this diluted world championship era.”
Scott: “Campbell is another of the UK’s “nearly men”, sadly. I like the way he conducts himself. He is – and has been – a true professional since joining Matchroom post-2012, but the array of intriguing head trainers and the lack of real step-up fights earlier in his career have probably let him down. Campbell was good enough to win a gold medal, and he’s fit enough to go 12 rounds. But what else has he added to his arsenal? A very, very good fighter who took on some of the best when his peers would have rather waited for easier triumphs; but he’s just not a great. I think he could retire.”
Williams: “Tough outcome for Campbell this. He fought with skill, bravery and technique but once again has come up short on the biggest professional stage. There are few prospects of landing a world title fight for him at lightweight, so if he carries on boxing maybe he will move to 140lbs. To be honest, I’d be happy for him to hang up the gloves. He’s had a cracking career and hopefully has earned enough to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”
Boxing Social: Who else in the lightweight division or from super-featherweight can threaten and topple the leading men?
Butcher: “Shakur Stevenson will evolve into the division in time. He will prove to be an elite fighter, but the current crop will probably have moved on by then.”
Scott: “James Tennyson. Nah, I think Shakur Stevenson has some growing to do, and I think he’s a super talent. Also, I wouldn’t rule out Chris Colbert making a dent at 130lbs, before moving up and tackling some of the leading names. It’s a fascinating division with time on its side.”
Williams: “Davis – if he fights at lightweight – is the biggest threat to Teofimo Lopez. Who [Vasiliy] Lomachenko fights next and whether he can bounce back from a loss he appears unwilling to accept will be intriguing. I’d love to see Miguel Berchelt move up from super-feather and land a big fight.”