Ryan Garcia, Dropped Early, is First to Stop Luke Campbell
By Caryn A. Tate on January 2, 2021
Garcia had to think and adapt tonight against the wily Luke Campbell. (Photo: DAZN)
Tonight, from Dallas, Texas, 22-year-old contender Ryan Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) took on veteran world title challenger and Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell (20-4, 16 KOs) in a 12-round lightweight bout. It was for the interim WBC "title," which really just means the winner here would become the mandatory for either Devin Haney (who holds a version of the WBC world lightweight title) or Teofimo Lopez (who won the legit title off of Vasyl Lomachenko late last year).
In the first, Garcia applied pressure to Campbell and maneuvered the latter where he wanted him. Campbell waited far too long to let his hands go, allowing Garcia to get off—and land—far more than he was able to. When Campbell did land, it made Garcia pause and stop walking Campbell down.
In the second, Garcia fired a nice shot and stood still, admiring his own work for a moment, and suddenly Campbell nailed him on the chin with a straight left. Garcia went down heavily. It was a perfect shot from Campbell. Garcia made it, and in fact finished the round by sitting back and preparing a trap for Campbell should he try to finish him off. But Campbell was too smart for that, throwing but not getting overzealous.
The third had a lot of back-and-forth for both men in a close round. In round four, there was great work from both and it was a legitimately close one. Both three and four could go either way but I felt Campbell was outlanding Garcia by a slim margin and landed the slightly more effective shots.
As the rounds wore on, Campbell gained confidence and let his hands go more. Garcia was more careful, rightfully so, but he continually threw power shots. He was looking for the knockout with each shot rather than playing the long game. Now and then he would reach with his right hand and Campbell sometimes caught him with his left when that happened.
Garcia had to think and adapt tonight against the wily Campbell. Garcia's punch placement and positioning were such that, when he did catch Campbell, it was enough to make Luke think twice or pause, which in a close fight like this one could be enough to help swing a round Garcia's way on the cards.
In round 5, Garcia was breathing through his mouth. At the end of the 5th, Garcia landed a left hook upstairs that hurt Campbell. Garcia landed a nice short right, but it was the hook that had hurt Luke, and just as the bell rang he turned around to the ropes in seeming concern or expectation that Garcia was going to hit him from behind. Thankfully referee Laurence Cole jumped between them in time to prevent that.
In the 7th, Garcia landed a picture-perfect liver shot on Campbell. In a delayed reaction, Campbell grimaced in pain and fell to his knees. He wasn't able to make the count and the fight was waved off.
“Your teachers, your parents, lots of people might try to tell you who you are, but you're not who they say you are,”Garcia said passionately after the fight, “you're who you want to be!"
As for who he wants to fight next, Ryan said, “I'm a man of my word. I want Tank (Gervonta Davis)! I want Devin Haney!”
All credit to Garcia—he became the first fighter to stop Luke Campbell. Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko weren't able to do the same when they fought him. And for Campbell, he showed fantastic intelligence in the ring tonight, keeping a cool head in the face of adversity and laying traps for Garcia.
As for Ryan Garcia, in his first legitimate top-level bout, it was more important for me that he show intelligence, adaptability, and dog than to simply show that he was tough enough to get up from a knockdown. He's a professional fighter—that's all the proof I need to know he's tough. But I need to see: can a fighter think in there, can he adapt, can he become a dog if he needs to be one? And tonight Garcia showed that he can do all of those things. That's what was most impressive about the win.
Next up it would be great for Haney and Garcia to fight, then the winner get undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez or Gervonta Davis. There's some great talent at 135 and now is the time for them all to fight each other.
The co-main event featured super featherweights Rene Alvarado (32-9, 21 KOs) and Roger Gutierrez (25-3-1, 20 KOs) in a 12-round rematch. Why this rematch was made is unclear. In their first fight in 2017, Alvarado stopped Gutierrez in the 7th of 8 rounds in a lopsided bout.
Gutierrez fought his heart out and he did better early in this fight, complete with hurting Alvarado in the third round and dropping him twice. It looked like Alvarado would be stopped, but he toughed it out and was able to survive the round.
After that, the fight was an entertaining back-and-forth affair until the final, 12th round: Gutierrez dropped Alvarado with a left hook for the third time in the fight. The latter was hurt, but just like before he fought through it and made it out of the round.
The DAZN commentators argued amongst themselves as usual, this time specifically about whether three knockdowns were enough to solidify the win for Gutierrez.
All judges scored it 113-112 for Gutierrez. So the last knockdown was what s