Ryan Garcia has already assembled his hit list for 2021.
His next opponent wasn’t even named, more so than nearly serving as a stop along the way.
“Luke Campbell, it’s inevitable for him; he’s just going to get his ass whipped,” Garcia vowed during the official announcement press conference for their January 2 interim title fight which takes place at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. “I’m not worried about Luke. He has no challenges for me. All he has are pitty-pat punches, amateur style punches. None of that is going to save him.
“The moment he feels my shots, he’s going to start backing up. I’ll figure out from there and surgically beat him down. I’m going to punish him and then go on to fight Tank.”
‘Tank’, of course, refers to unbeaten two-division titlist Gervonta Davis (24-0, 23KOs), one of several names targeted by Garcia (20-0, 17KOs) in the year ahead. First up for the 22-year old from Victorville, California is England’s Campbell (20-3, 16KOs) in a bout that was originally due to take place earlier this month in Indio, California.
The four-week postponement came due to Campbell reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, though with the new date allowing for Golden Boy Promotions—Garcia’s career-long promoter—to secure a venue that will allow fans in attendance. Garcia has established himself as a massive regional draw in several parts of California, and is now eager to branch out to further build his brand and his résumé.
A win over Campbell will put Garcia squarely on the path to face unbeaten titlist Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs), at least in terms of alphabet title infrastructure. Rounding out the group of unbeaten young talent is lineal lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) who has no shortage of aspiring challengers.
Clearly not of any concern to Garcia is the task ahead.
“I’m not even worried about fighting Luke Campbell,” admits Garcia, who last appeared in an 80-second wipeout of former title challenger Francisco Fonseca this past Valentine’s Day at a sold-out Honda Center in Anaheim, California. “What experience does he have? Every time he stepped up, he lost. He even lost to a guy we never heard of. Who is Yvan Mendy?”
Campbell suffered a 12-round defeat to Mendy in December 2015, three years into his pro career after having captured a Gold medal for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics. Campbell avenged the loss three years later, while enduring title fight defeats to Jorge Linares (in September 2017) and to Vasiliy Lomachenko in their three-belt lightweight title fight last August, his most recent bout.
While the argument has been made that Campbell represents Garcia’s stiffest challenge, lacking in his career is the type of win that suggests he belongs with the division’s elite. That moment, Garcia promises, will not come on January 2 in Dallas.
“I feel very disrespected by Luke. I feel bad for Luke,” insists Garcia. “He’s just the first one I’m going to punish. I cannot wait… I cannot WAIT to punish Luke Campbell.
"I want to break his eye, I want to break his bones. I just want to punish everything about him.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox