Ryan Garcia vs “Coolhand” Luke Campbell: Preview
On the 2nd of January, 2021, one of boxing’s hottest prospects faces off against a veteran of the sport in Luke Campbell for the interim WBC Lightweight World Title.
It’s a classic encounter – a rising star meets an established name, with plenty on the line for both parties. Ryan Garcia will be looking for a statement win in his first real test, while Campbell will be trying to maintain his legitimacy at world level.
The bout was originally scheduled for December, but was postponed after Campbell had contracted COVID-19.
Both boxers are very highly skilled operators with traits that would make them a tough proposition for anyone at lightweight. Garcia is lightning fast and possesses deceptive one-punch power, whilst Campbell is a crafty southpaw with warrior-like resiliency and heart.
It’s good to see the young gun jump into the deep end with a dangerous proposition, also. It’s not quite the leap in class that Teofimo Lopez took when he squared off against Lomachenko a few months ago, but it is nonetheless a considerable gulf.
Campbell has downplayed Garcia’s presence as a contender on the world stage, while a Garcia retorted by claiming he would “hurt” his opponent. Whether this is a show or genuine bad blood between the two is irrelevant. If it persuades more people to purchase the fight, fine. But what really matters is what happens in the ring.
Ryan Garcia’s rise from social media punchline to legitimate contender has been an interesting one. People seem too caught up in his flamboyant, ostentatious nature on Instagram and the like to notice the talent that lies behind it all.
He has supernaturally fast hands and power to go with it. Against the opponents he’s been facing, this has been more than enough to blow them away. However, it’s fair to say that Coolhand is a step above his preferred prey.
Garcia’s defense has been called into question by his legions of critics, but it’s important to remember that this is a criticism leveed at pretty much every up-and-coming superstar that has ever existed. He’s not shown a high level of defensive prowess in his fights so far however and he will need to improve against Campbell.
He was given a minor scare by Carlos Morales, who had him hurt in the seventh, but Garcia was able to out land and outwork his opponent to secure a decision win. His predictable (if not static) head movement hindered him throughout this fight, leaving him open to damaging shots from a fighter not known for his power.
If Garcia does not become more actively defensive against Coolhand, he could be in serious trouble from the Yorkshire lad.
On the flip side, offensively, Garcia is able to give Campbell a whole world of problems. He has a fast jab, which is very important as an orthodox fighter facing a southpaw.
Furthermore, he’s got decent footwork and times his counter punches effectively. This will nullify any attempt from his opponent to rush him down and bully the younger fighter.
How should Garcia approach this fight? First, on no uncertain terms, he has to keep his head moving or Campbell will exploit this. Their reach is almost identical, so it would make sense for him to vary his attacks, rather than sticking to his trusty fast 1-2.
Campbell is canny, but not impregnable. If Garcia can land a strong shot flush and keep the pressure on, he should be able to see off the older man.
Ryan Garcia Top 10 Knockouts
Campbell is a brave, gutsy fighter whose technical attributes shouldn’t be overlooked. His body shots are vicious and well disguised, making for a dangerous trap any newcomer can easily fall into.
Garcia is no newcomer to boxing – he’s been training since the age of seven – but Campbell’s more vast experience in the pro ranks will give him a psychological edge.
Campbell has proved he can hold his own against just about anyone at lightweight. He’s had closely fought encounters with the likes of Jorge Linares and Yvan Mendy (twice), giving both fighters very rough nights.
His bout with Lomachenko wasn’t quite the nail-bitingly close war that some would like you to believe, but he succeeded in making the Ukrainian work incredibly hard for his victory. Campbell is certainly not one to back away from a tough contest.
He has the skill set to give “King Ry” a very tough time. However, he must be careful to keep his aggression measured. If he over commits against this inhumanly swift prospect, he’ll get caught – and that could be that.
Luke Campbell Knockout Highlights
Ryan Garcia vs Luke Campbell: The Verdict
Campbell’s far greater experience will serve him well in this bout. Using his more refined footwork, he should be able to control large portions of the fight.
However, for all the good work Campbell will put in, it is Garcia who’s likely to land the more telling shots. He’s younger, fresher and has a fuller gas tank. Campbell won’t be able to control him for 12 rounds.
Although Coolhand has the heart of a lion, he is suspect to flash one-punch knockdowns – something Garcia specialises in. In a bout as potentially close as this, a knockdown could very well sway the judges.
I believe this one will go the distance, with Garcia edging a decision win. The judges’ scorecards may not reflect the closeness of the bout, but that’s an issue for another time.
Campbell will not go down without a tremendous fight, but this time, I feel the old will make way for the new.
Official Prediction: Ryan Garcia by UD
Garcia vs Campbell details
Date: Saturday 2 January, 2021
Fight time: Around 11pm UK time, depending on undercard progress
TV/live stream: Live on DAZN streaming service, subscription only, £1.99 a month
Undercard highlights: Rene Alvarado (32-8) is unbeaten in nearly four years and defends his WBA super-featherweight world title against Roger Gutierrez (24-3-1) in a rematch of Alvarado’s 2017 win, a bloody slugfest that ended in a seventh-round stoppage
Who do you think will win Garcia or Campbell?
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