Given recent events, a clash between Luke Campbell and Ryan Garcia makes perfect sense.
A fight between the pair of top-rated lightweights have been ordered by the World Boxing Council (WBC), in its latest efforts to provide clarity in the division.
“With [Javier] Fortuna pulling out of the Luke Campbell fight, we have just been notified that the WBC have ordered Campbell v Ryan Garcia,” Eddie Hearn, Campbell’s promoter and managing director of Matchroom Boxing announced via social media on Wednesday. “Great fight! @DAZN_USA @GoldenBoy.”
The suggested pairing is the latest in a series of lightweight fights that have been ordered by the WBC, so far with none of them seeing the light of day.
England’s Campbell (20-3, 16KOs) was previously ordered to face Dominican Republic’s Javier Fortuna (35-2-1, 24KOs) for the interim title, with the winner to have been guaranteed a shot at reinstated lightweight titlist Devin Haney (24-0, 15KOs). The two-time title challenger was game for the cause, even if his greater preference was a straightaway shot at Haney.
Those plans fell through when Fortuna—a former two-division titlist and previously the WBC mandatory challenger at lightweight—opted to instead face former three-division titlist Jorge Linares (47-5, 29KOs). Their recently announced bout is scheduled to take place August 28, live on DAZN-USA from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
That bout came on the heels of Linares moving on from a proposed bout with Garcia (20-0, 17KOs), which was once targeted to take place on July 4 prior to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic decimating the boxing schedule. The fight was never officially signed, nor fully revisited and with Linares clearly making his choice on his next opponent.
With Campbell and García both left without opponents, it would only make sense for the two to turn to each other. The WBC is doing its part to aid the cause, for a fight to which all involved parties appear receptive.
“Let’s go,” Campbell exclaimed in a response to Hearn’s tweet.
Campbell—a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist from Hull, England—has not fought since a 12-round loss to Vasyl Lomachenko in their three-belt lightweight title fight last August in London. Among the slew of belts was the then-vacant WBC title, which Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10KOs) exchanged for the sanctioning body’s “Franchise Champion” tag.
The move—which came last October—resulted in an upgrade for Las Vegas’ Haney from interim to full WBC lightweight titlist. One defense followed, a 12-round decision over Alfredo Santiago last November. The win came at a cost, leaving him with an injured shoulder which required surgery and at the time left him unavailable to honor his mandatory title defense versus Fortuna.
Haney was forced to vacate the title and settle for “Emeritus” status which would allow him to challenge for his old belt once he was healthy enough to return to the ring. In turn, Fortuna and Campbell were ordered to fight for the vacant title and prepared to meet on April 17 in Oxon Hill, Maryland until the event was canceled due to the ongoing global health crisis.
It also provided a loophole for Haney, who campaign to have his title status restored since the vacancy was never filled by the time he was physically healed and able to return. The WBC accepted his petition for reinstatement, emailing his title earlier this year and with the accompanying order for Fortuna and Campbell now meeting for the aforementioned interim title which has since dissolved.
Fortunately for Campbell, the next highest ranked fighter in line is up for the challenge.
“I’m finally getting to fight a southpaw,” tweeted García, a rising contender from Victorville, California who knocked out Francisco Fonseca in one round this past February. “[M]y favorite fighters to fight!
“Bring it on [L]uke Campbell.”
A 30-day negotiation period normally follows such ordered fight, with the two sides going to a purse bid hearing in the event that a deal cannot be reached. Campbell is represented by Hearn, while García fights under the Golden Boy Promotions banner. Both entities enjoy output deals with DAZN-USA and frequently conduct business together.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox