The second attempt by the World Boxing Council at hosting a virtual purse bid went similarly to its preceding effort.
As promised one week ago, terms have been finalized for a WBC interim lightweight title fight between Ryan García and Luke Campbell. The matchup was subject to a purse bid hearing on August 11 and again on Wednesday, the former delayed on the promise that a deal was reached in principle and only needed a few more days.
It turned out that they needed a full week, but Matchroom Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions–whom represent Campbell and García, respectively—ultimately made good on their earlier promise.
"We have reached a deal," Roberto Diaz, executive matchmaker for Golden Boy revealed prior to the start of the session. "I'm sorry to say, it looks like we have to cancel this again."
As was the case seven days prior, the media heard first hand from both promoters of talks progressing to the point of a purse bid hearing no longer being necessary.
"I’m very sorry to give the media the bad news again, but we finally reached an agreement,” Eddie Hearn, managing director of Matchroom Boxing—Campbell’s promoter—confirmed on Wednesday. “Just to give a bit of clarity—we had some issues around the contract that we sent to Golden Boy, that they weren’t happy with. They’re well within their right to do that. We’ve worked it out, we only had 24 hours to work it out.
“The fight will take place in America. Robert and Eric Gomez (president of GBP) will work on the date, which looks like it will be middle-to-end of November. Eric will announce that in due course.”
The interim title fight was ordered in July, upon Victorville, California’s Garcîa (20-0, 17KOs) accepting the sanctioning body's invitation to challenge for such a belt. From there came a negotiation period with England’s Campbell (20-3, 16KOs), as their teams were granted a 30-day period to reach terms or else be subject to a purse bid hearing.
Hearn asked for an extension last Monday with the insistence that both sides were close. The WBC was willing to work with both sides, though the sanctioning body's by-laws required that the purse bid procedure needed to occur as scheduled. Hearn and Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions joined the Zoom conference call–the manner in which all purse bids will be conducted during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—last Tuesday, only to reveal that they were close to reaching an agreement and hoped to have it done before the next assigned purse bid hearing.
It was suggested at the time that the global health crisis was the only thing preventing Garcîa and Campbell from moving forward for their agreed-upon interim title fight. A determination as to whether it would take place in the United States or the United Kingdom has since been worked out, with the anticipated bout heading stateside.
García enters the fight on the heels of back-to-back 1st round knockout wins. The unbeaten 22-year old blasted out former two-time title challenger Francisco Fonseca in just 80 seconds this past February in Anaheim, California. The feat came three months after needing just 98 seconds to deliver the same fate to Philippines' Romero Duno last November in Las Vegas.
Now he's set for what is easily the biggest test of his young career.
"I’m [p]ositive I got a fight with [L]uke Campbell," García tweeted on Wednesday. "FINALLY DONE! Wooooo about time we sign some papers."
Campbell has twice challenged for the WBC lightweight title, suffering decision defeats on both occasions. The 2012 Olympic Gold medalist from Hull, England came up just short in a September 2017 title bid versus three-division and then-reigning lightweight titlist Jorge Linares. Campbell earned his place back in line following a September 2018 points win over France's Yvan Mendy, avenging his first career defeat in the process. A stay-busy win last March paved the way for a showdown with Ukraine's Vasiliy Lomachenko, with the WBC, WBA and WBO lightweight titles at stake for their clash last August in London. Campbell dropped a 12-round decision in what has served as his last bout to date.
Efforts were made to get Campbell in the ring with Dominican Republic's Javier Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs) for what at the time was the vacant WBC lightweight belt. Its prior claimant, Devin Haney (24-0, 15KOs) relinquished the belt due to failure to honor a mandatory title defense versus Fortuna as he was recovering from shoulder surgery. A scheduled April 17 bout between Campbell and Fortuna was wiped out due to the first wave of the coronavirus in the United States, with Haney since being reinstated as lightweight champ.
The winner of the forthcoming showdown between García and Campbell will be next in line to challenge Haney in 2021. Haney remains on the hunt for an opponent in a WBC pre-approved voluntary title defense which is being eyed for early this fall.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox