DALLAS—Luke Campbell knew he was facing a potentially special fighter from the moment he watched Ryan Garcia rise from perfect punch.
The DAZN-televised main event from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas kicked the new year off to a booming start, with both boxers hitting the deck in their interim lightweight title fight. Campbell produced the first knockdown of the fight and of Garcia's career, landing a well-placed left hand to send the unbeaten 22-year old crashing to the canvas.
“He did so well to get up from the shot in the second round,” Campbell admitted after the fight, which he would lose by 7th round knockout. “I felt that through my arm and knew it was a beauty but all credit to him, he got up and showed he’s got real heart.”
Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) bounced back the following round and soon gained control of the fight, though was forced to endure several more rough moments from his veteran challenger before closing the show. A left hook to the body forced a delayed reaction knockdown, with Campbell wincing in agonizing pain as referee Laurence Cole counted out the 33-year old southpaw from Hull, England at 1:58 of round seven.
“It was a great fight and I knew I was right in the fight and thought I was having a good round in the seventh, but that was just a fantastic body shot,” stated Campbell, gracious in defeat. “I was ready to attack again and he just timed the punch perfectly. I wanted to beat the count but just couldn’t.”
The instance marked the first time that Campbell (20-4, 16KOs) has been stopped in 24 pro fights. The 2012 Olympic Gold medal went the 12-round distance with Jorge Linares and pound-for-pound entrant Vasilily Lomachenko in separate title bids, climbing off the deck on both occasions to force each fight to go to the scorecards.
Garcia found a way to close the show, making good on a pre-fight promise to deliver a statement-making performance. Campbell was determined to prove otherwise, instead left with nothing but admiration from the budding lightweight star.
“You just have to hold your hands up and say it was a great shot from a very talented fighter who is going to go a long way,” noted Campbell.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox