Oscar De La Hoya is confident beating Luke Campbell will change a lot of the public’s perception of Ryan Garcia.
The 21-year-old Garcia’s promoter expects the unbeaten lightweight contender to battle Campbell next. The WBC has ordered a Garcia-Campbell bout for its interim lightweight title.
The left-handed Campbell would become the most accomplished opponent of Garcia’s four-year pro career if De La Hoya can make a deal with Eddie Hearn, Campbell’s promoter, for their 12-round, 135-pound bout. The 32-year-old Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs), a 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Hull, England, has lost decisions to WBA/WBO lightweight champ Vasiliy Lomachenko and former WBA/WBC lightweight champ Jorge Linares in 135-pound championship matches.
“Well, I mean, the WBC has ordered it,” De La Hoya told Chris Mannix during a recent episode of the Sports Illustrated boxing podcast. “And we’re obviously now waiting for Eddie Hearn to make us the offer, because he does promote Luke Campbell. And that’s the fight that has to happen. It’s the WBC orders. That’s exactly what has to take place and so it’s a great fight. It’s a difficult fight for both guys. It’s a real fight. I think it’ll be the first real, real test, where fight fans and the public will finally respect Ryan Garcia by beating Campbell. So, this is a fight that, if it does take place, will be a very, very entertaining, you know, pick ‘em fight.”
Campbell is the WBC’s second-ranked lightweight contender. Garcia is rated third by the WBC at 135 pounds.
Javier Fortuna (35-2-1, 24 KOs, 2 NC), the WBC’s number one lightweight contender, and the fourth-ranked Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) are scheduled to fight August 28 at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs), of Victorville, California, has knocked out Romero Duno (22-2, 17 KOs) and Francisco Fonseca (25-3-2, 19 KOs) in the first round of back-to-back bouts. Campbell has never been knocked out, however, and has faced a higher level of opposition overall than Duno or Fonseca.
De La Hoya also responded to Garcia’s recent comments to The Athletic. A frustrated Garcia told that outlet that Golden Boy Promotions should release him from his long-term contract if De La Hoya and his matchmakers don’t believe in his potential to become a world champion.
“Well, our job is to make him a world champion,” De La Hoya said. “And that’s what I’m gonna continue doing. We have him on the right path. He’s a very talented fighter. We believe in him. And obviously we have a long-term contract together, a pact together. And I’m never gonna stop believing in him. I want him to supersede whatever I did as well, you know, inside the ring. I want him to become world champion many times over.
“It brings me great joy to see these fighters, you know, make their dreams come true and have those titles around their waist. There’s nothing better for me than that. That’s exactly why I’m promoting, is to make sure that these fighters become world champions and live their dreams. So, you know, I feel that Ryan Garcia can be one of the best fighters in the history of this sport.”
The polarizing Garcia has huge followings on social media and uses such platforms as Instagram, TikTok and Twitter to interact with fans and taunt potential opponents.
“We have the potential to create a megastar in Ryan Garcia,” De La Hoya said. “And that’s exactly what our plans are. We know how to do it, because we’ve done it before, not only with myself, but with fighters that we’ve promoted in the past. And so, Ryan Garcia’s the perfect candidate to not only become a champion, but to become a superstar outside of the ring. And that’s not very easy, but we have the formula to do it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.