Luke Campbell believes Ryan Garcia retains the ability to shock Devin Haney on Saturday evening.

Garcia is Haney’s first challenger in his reign as the WBC super lightweight champion, and will finally fight his long-term rival at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Campbell was the opponent the night Garcia demonstrated his considerable potential by recovering from a knockout to stop Campbell in the seventh round of their fight in 2021, which remains the 25-year-old Garcia’s finest victory as a professional.

He has since switched trainers from Eddy Reynoso to Joe Goossen, and more recently to Derrick James, and lost for the first time, to Gervonta “Tank” Davis. Garcia’s regression as a fighter has ultimately made him a significant underdog against Haney, but Campbell has more confidence than most that Garcia can win.

Campbell also went the distance with Jorge Linares – who in 2021 hurt Haney more than any other fighter – and Vasily Lomachenko, when the Ukrainian was in his irresistible prime. That Haney’s finest victory came against Lomachenko in May 2023 has contributed to Campbell’s respect for him, but after retiring in the aftermath of his defeat by Garcia, Campbell said: “I ain’t never seen anyone get hit like that and bounce back up and be fully recovered within a matter of seconds. I’ve never seen that – and I’ve stopped guys that have never been stopped before. I’ve hit kids and scrambled them with half the shot I hit him with, and they couldn’t recover. I ain’t never seen that before.

“He was better than I thought, 100 percent. Not that I underestimated him in any way. He’s got rapid speed in both hands. He was aggressive. I was hitting him with hard shots and I could see that he was game for it. He was a lot gamer than I thought – I thought once I started hitting him hard he wouldn’t wanna know. I hit him hard with a fair few shots, and he was there, he dug deep and got stuck in. His timing – he’s got great timing, with the fast hands. He can punch with both hands and got great timing.

“I walked away that night – obviously I weren’t in the best frame of mind – thinking he could be a potential pound-for-pound fighter if he stays dedicated. ‘If he commits to boxing and gives it everything. …’ There’s no reason for him not to be. His speed, his timing, his toughness, everything. His grit, his stamina, his punch volume. Everything. He can take a shot. There’s no reason he can’t be.

“It was a great win for him.”

Garcia and Haney, also 25, fought six times as amateurs and won three fights each. In the build-up to Saturday’s fight, partly on account of Garcia’s erratic behavior, their rivalry has become increasingly personal.

“The kid’s young,” Campbell responded when asked if Garcia has disappointed him since 2021. “He’s super-famous, and he’s got millions and millions in the bank. What do people expect? Fame alone f***s people up. If you look at anyone who’s super-famous, they’re all f***** up. They’re a little bit messed up, in my opinion.

“Then you add millions and millions of dollars to that as well, and he’s young – that could be a recipe for disaster. Maybe he don’t want to be an all-time great. Maybe he don’t wanna be a pound-for-pounder. Maybe he just wants to get into boxing, make as much money as possible and then sail away into the sunset. Maybe that’s what he wants.

“I’ve never asked him that question, so I don’t really know. But he’s got the athleticism, the power, the speed, the timing, the grit – everything to go all the way, if that’s what he wants.

“People are talking like he’s already lost the fight and he’s been done – and done bad. He’s fighting Devin Haney – I was very impressed with the way he beat [Regis] Prograis – but Devin Haney’s a very, very good fighter. If he gets rid of Devin Haney, that catapults him right up that list. Depending on if he beats Devin Haney, or how he beats Devin Haney …

“If both guys bring their A-game – I believe Devin will bring his A-game, because that’s what he does; he brings his A-game to every fight. If Ryan Garcia brings his A-game, at times he could be too much for Devin. Devin’s a very technical fighter; hasn’t got much punch power, but enough to tell you he’s there and to bust your face up a little bit. He’s been hurt by Linares, so you never know – Garcia could do a job on him. I think Garcia, potentially, by knockout, or Haney can outbox him on points.”