A Star is Born
Social media sensation Ryan ‘KingRy’ Garcia scored a devastating seventh round stoppage of 2012 Olympic gold medalist and double world title challenger Luke Campbell in Dallas, Texas on Saturday.
Arriving in the ring on a throne carried by his entourage with a mock crown (ala ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed) the Golden Boy Promotions backed 22 year old entered the contest as the next ‘big thing’. He certainly needed to back up such an extravagant entrance, and that he did, with aplomb.
Garcia (21-0, 18 KO’s) showed all the class and his ‘cojones’ to rise from a second round knockdown to take the fight to his British opponent. Walking his man down he won most of the completed rounds as Campbell tried to pick his man off out of a southpaw stance. The Brit from Hull, NE England worked well off the ropes with lateral movement, scoring heavy body shots and counter overhand hooks, but apart from the knockdown never really dented the young Californian’s confidence.
Much had been questioned and expected about Garcia’s first step up to championship level with the ‘interim’ WBC lightweight belt on the line. In turning a fight around, that for moments in the second he was in serious trouble of losing, showed the young pup has substance as well as style.
After the initial shock of the knockdown he quickly rose and gathered his composure to largely dominate the fight. In the mid-seventh round he landed a beautiful left hook to Campbell’s ribcage, robbing his opponent completely of oxygen and although the Brit tried to gather himself before the ten count, was rendered unable. The stoppage was officially recorded at 1:58 seconds.
In the DAZN post-fight interview Garcia was ecstatic with his performance and to come through his first real test. “I think I showed a lot of people who I really am”. Responding to being knocked down in the second he said “It was a good shot, I was cold…I’ve never been dropped before”. And continued “I was a little dizzy, I ain’t gonna lie”.
Much of the interview focused on the stacked lightweight (135lb/9st 9lb) division and future opponents. Despite continuous prompting towards meeting WBC ‘world’ champion Devin Haney, who was ringside and jovially stood face to face with the Californian, it was clear that Garcia’s attention is on undefeated Baltimore fighter Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis. “I wanna be a man of my word, I wanna fight Tank” he declared.
That would be a massive test for Garcia after only twenty one pro fights and, as Davis is a strong polished fighter coming off a good recent KO win against Leo Santa Cruz, but on this performance is a fight the young star should go into with some confidence.
Current Ring magazine lightweight champion and recognized divisional king is Teofimo Lopez by virtue of his outstanding victory over elite ex-champ Vasiliy Lomachenko last October.
Our view is it’s about time the lightweight division started to clean up its act with interim and fringe champions. Only a four fighter box-off will truly establish who is the best of these young guns but the prospects are mouthwatering. Promotional ties and sanctioning obligations will make this difficult, but hopefully 2021 will deliver something that clears the fog.
Garcia is now well placed in the mix and due to his high social media following has the steepest trajectory to stardom. The little matter of training in the same gym and being mentored by current pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez bodes well for his elevation.
The 33 year old Campbell drops to 20-4, 16 KO’s and must now focus on domestic dominance if he wants to rebuild. He’s accomplished a lot, both amateur and pro, and now is the time to re-assess whether and how he continues in the sport.
In the co-main event Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez gained revenge over Nicaraguan Rene Alvarado to win the WBA world super-featherweight (130lb/9st 4lb) title. This was a rematch and after dropping his opponent twice in the third and once in the final round Gutierrez won by identical scores 113-112 on a unanimous decision. It was a very competitive fight and Alvarado had good moments making it a good watch.
The victory was particularly sweet for the new champion as his mother sadly died from cancer in November 2020. A fitting tribute to her life as her son reached this pinnacle of achievement.
British boxing on hold
News yesterday from London is that due to the latest spike in COVID infections in the UK that all boxing has been suspended for the month of January. There will be no promotions held and this will deal a further, but ultimately necessary, temporary blow to the sport. We must all hope that February will see brighter times ahead.