The ball will drop to ring in a new year two days before Ryan Garcia will see his next fight, but he will save the partying and celebration for post-fight festivities.

“I don’t know about partying, but what I do know, there is a reason I’m fighting in 2021,” Garcia insisted during a virtual press conference ahead of his January 2 interim lightweight title fight showdown with England’s Luke Campbell. “From then on, I won’t ever be known as the underdog. I will be known as one of the best fighters in the world.”

Many industry insiders have the upcoming lightweight clash pegged as the toughest test to date for Garcia (20-0. 17KOs), the dazzling 22-year old from Victorville, California. The bout will headline the first DAZN event of 2021, airing live from American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas.

Garcia made a conscious choice to pursue this fight, turning down a title eliminator with another sanctioning body in order to take on Campbell (20-3, 16KOs), a 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former two-time title challenger. The perceived step-up in class marks his first fight since a 1st round knockout of Francisco Fonseca this past February, which came three months after blasting out Romero Duno inside of one round last November.

Going through all of 2020 having lodged just 80 seconds worth of ring time was not the plan in mind for García or Golden Boy Promotions at this stage of his career. The ongoing coronavirus played a significant role in the downtime, along with other external issues which have since been resolved.

With the new year ahead will come a fresh start, beginning with Campbell. A win on January 2 will then turn attention towards focusing on the division’s elite—World (lineal) champion and unified WBA/IBF/WBO titlist Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs), unbeaten WBC title claimant Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs) and red-hot knockout artist Gervonta Davis (24-0, 23KOs).

“2020, I had my little fun in February, then it went on a long pause,” notes Garcia, who has scored four straight knockouts since linking up with 2019 Trainer of the Year Eddy Reynoso. “Now I’m ready to conquer this decade, this whole era. This is the new lightweight era. I want to conquer this division.

“I make this weight very easily. I’m a very disciplined person. I can make this weight as long as I want to make it. My goal is to beat Teofimo Lopez, to knock out Gervonta Davis and to beat Devin Haney. Any order it's in, I’m here to conquer this division and be the biggest superstar in boxing.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox