If we are set to learn anything from Saturday’s much-anticipated lightweight tilt in Dallas, it’s whether Ryan Garcia is merely a popular young boxer with nearly eight million Instagram followers or a 22-year-old fighter who is ready — right now — to take over the sport.
Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) will face his stiffest test to date inside American Airlines Center (3 p.m. ET on DAZN, sign up now) against 2012 Olympic gold medalist and two-time title challenger Luke Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) in a bout, originally scheduled for December, that was pushed back after the 33-year-old native of England tested positive for COVID-19.
With his boyhood charm and prolific social media output, Garcia has made a name for himself in recent years as a prominent self marketer and potential future star. But after joining the camp of Canelo Alvarez and trainer Eddy Reynoso two years ago, Garcia has made a much more serious push toward relevancy.
Garcia has followed a disappointing 2018 majority decision win over Carlos Morales with four straight knockouts and now has added tough talk to match his lightning quick hands and sharp combinations.
“I’m going to be the best fighter in the world for this next era,” Garcia said during the teleconference to promote the fight. “This is probably how it was supposed to be written. This is how the stars are aligning. I get everybody around the whole world to watch and this is what I have always wanted to do, which is inspire the whole world. This is the perfect opportunity to do it.
“Luke Campbell, it’s inevitable for him. He’s just going to get his ass whooped. Whether it’s December or Jan. 2, his fate is the same.”
The move to a more brash persona highlighted by trash talk is something that’s new for Garcia, who has long been targeted by top names in the sport who have assumed, given his matinee idol looks, that he’s nothing by a pretty boy. But Garcia can fight and he has taken issue with the confidence that the 33-year-old Campbell has shown throughout the build to this weekend’s bout.
“I feel very disrespected by Luke,” Garcia said. “All that disrespect, all that hate, and all that envy is going to blind him. Luke is just the first one. I feel bad for Luke. He’s just the first one of my opponents that’s going to get it bad. I’m older, stronger, and coming into myself. I already felt I was coming into myself for the [Francisco] Fonseca fight. I was on a roll and ready to takeover. God said how it was supposed to be. I cannot wait to punish Luke Campbell. I want to break his eye. I want to break his bones. I want to break everything off of him.”
Despite failing to capture a world title, Campbell has come painfully close in decision losses to both Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko in which he fought tough and, in the case of a razor-thin loss to Linares, had a case for a win.
“I believe I’m coming into my prime now and everything that has happened to me in the past has prepared me for where I am today,” Campbell said. “I believe I am going to win this fight and represent.
“I’ve got to go in there and not make any mistakes and be the best I can be. I believe me being the best I can be can beat anyone in the lightweight division.”
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