Everyone has the same questions when they start.
The questions grow louder for those who garner fans sooner. Ryan Garcia’s social media following was there before he had what anyone would call quality wins. No fighter has those until they do.
Garcia is a potential star already. He’s not quite proven as a real contender. With a win Saturday night (DAZN, 5 PM EST), he would be.
Luke Campbell won Olympic gold in 2012 but professional gold has eluded him. He has a chance to win an interim WBC strap here, making himself a de facto mandatory for Devin Haney. A loss to Garcia could signal the end of his hopes. Can he gather the sum of his experiences to send the younger man to the learning tree?
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Current Titles/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 135 lbs.
Hails from: Los Angeles, California
Record: 20-0, 17 KO
Press Rankings: #5 (TBRB, Ring), #9 (Boxing News, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: N/A
Last Five Opponents: 102-11-6 (.882)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: None
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 135 lbs.
Hails from: Hessle, Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Record: 20-3, 16 KO
Press Rankings: #3 (TBRB, Boxing News), #4 (Ring), #5 (ESPN), #8 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 0-2
Last Five Opponents: 141-18-4 (.877)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Jorge Linares L12; Yvan Mendy UD12; Vasyl Lomachenko L12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Darleys Perez TKO9; Argenis Mendez UD12
The Pick: Garcia has been well groomed to the point where he appears to be maturing into his full form. Given his height and frame, he may be a Jr. welterweight sooner than later. There have been some visible improvements in Garcia’s game in recent fights to compliment natural physical tools. Garcia has real pop and excellent hand speed; his timing, defense, and sense of space are coming along as well.
Garcia appears quicker than Campbell but speed can be contained and Campbell has seen his share. Campbell is a solid fundamental boxer with a good jab who looks the lanky Garcia nearly in the eye. Campbell’s beard has been an asset to date and he has to be fighting from a position of desperation. He’s good enough to force the Garcia train back to the station for some more tuning.
Still, this has the feel of a coming out party for a fighter with big plans ahead. There is a bit of a formula to such fights, a trick of timing to make sure a prize pupil is ready to matriculate. As the visiting team, Campbell may have to win more demonstrably than just nicking rounds might allow as well. Add it up and this feels like a Garcia win to start the year with a chance to advance at the least and impress at the most.
Would a Garcia win lead to the first showdown of the young gun crop that has everyone excited around the lightweight limit? We can’t wonder about Garcia-Haney until Garcia-Campbell is done.
It’s often more fun to be wrong. Watching Kazuto Ioka put together one of the most complete outings of his career was one of those times. He contained, broke down, and defeated a younger Kosei Tanaka who arrived with a smart, responsible game plan. Tanaka may have to wait a while to get another crack at a fourth divisional title and could be well advised to return to flyweight for now. Ioka on the other hand has put himself in position to face whoever emerges from the trio of Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez, and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. Jr. bantamweight’s best are aging but they also are still fighting each other. Make a case for the talent in whatever weight one wants. With the competition in-ring maintaining the quality it does, this remains arguably boxing’s best division.
Rold Picks 2020: 32-13
Rold Picks 2021: To Be Continued...
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com