‘I’m honestly heartbroken, I really wanted to bring the win back for everyone in the UK,’ Campbell said after the fight
Luke Campbell faces tough decisions about his future after being poleaxed by the heavy hands of rising star Ryan García. After being undone by the most brutal of body shots in Dallas, the 22-year-old proved that his power could be a chilling equaliser at elite level.
But while this World Boxing Council Interim lightweight title bout was by no means one-sided, at the age of 33, and with four defeats now in 24 contests, Campbell will have much to consider about his continuance at world level .
While García proved that he is the real deal – and not just a social media star with 8 million Instagram followers – in this high-profile World Boxing Council Interim lightweight title bout, Campbell admitted afterwards that he was “heartbroken” by the perfect hook to the liver that decided the outcome.
“He’s very heavy handed,” said the fighter from Hull, a London Olympic Games gold medallist. “When I was blocking the shots, I could feel them. That was the hardest shot I was ever hit with. I tried and tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I felt him coming on, and I was moving back. And when I moved back, my body relaxed a little bit and that’s the exact time he hit me.”
Campbell added: “I’m honestly heartbroken, I really wanted to bring the win back for everyone in the UK. I’m sorry about that. I have to take my hat off to Ryan García, well done to him, he has a massive future ahead of him. I wish him all the best.”
Californian García, meanwhile, who recorded his eighteenth stoppage in 21 fights, showed that he is worthy of his huge following. In his first real challenge he elevated his standing in the lightweight division – laden largely with terrific American talent – and should set up a series of blockbuster fights in the next two years.
There are brilliant young fighters in Teofimo Lopez, the No. 1 at 135lbs, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, Devin Haney and the Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko – dethroned three months ago by Lopez.
“This is the kind of fight where superstars are made,” said Oscar De La Hoya, García’s promoter. “Down on the mat early for the first time in his career, Ryan got up, rallied, broke down his man and got the knockout. Everyone in the lightweight division should consider themselves on notice. 2021 will be the year of Ryan García.”
The fight began with García the aggressor, fearless and letting his heavy hands go, and Campbell needed to find answers. He did, flooring García in the second round and gaining a strong foothold in the fight in the third, his right hook effective, and his boxing brain from a long amateur career ensuring a competitive fight. But García’s speed of punch, and equalising power will take him to world level soon in spite of the rawness he still displays. In the fifth round, Campbell was hurt for the first time by García’s trademark left hook, saved by the bell as he turned his back on the ropes.
Campbell came out strong in the next two rounds, edging his way back into the contest, but from nowhere, in the seventh round, García struck definitively with a perfect liver punch. There was a slight delay as Campbell’s body responded, and down on his haunches, there was no getting up as referee Laurence Cole counted him out.
At the time, García was up 58-55 on the cards of judges Glenn Feldman and Mark Lyson, and 58-56 on the third card of judge Rey Danseco. García, delirious in victory, called out Davis and then Haney, who was ringside in Dallas. “I fought an Olympic gold medallist. Linares and Lomachenko couldn’t stop him and I did,” said García, who is now the mandatory challenger to WBC champion Devin Haney. “Listen, I’ll fight Devin Haney, too. What do the people want to see?”
“My performance definitely showed a lot of people who I really am,” he added. “Going into this fight I wanted to show people that you are not what people call you. You are what you choose to be. I chose to be a champion tonight. I didn’t let anything stop me from being a champion tonight. Even when he dropped me, I knew that [he] couldn’t stop me from being champion.”