Five questions going into the Ryan Garcia vs. Luke Campbell fight.
Lightweight contenders Ryan Garcia and Luke Campbell are scheduled to meet for an “interim” lightweight title Saturday at American Airlines Arena in Dallas (DAZN).
For Garcia, it’s the biggest test of a promising young career. For Campbell, an Olympic champion who has fallen short in his biggest professional fights, it’s a golden opportunity to get it right.
There are many questions going into the much-anticipated showdown. Here are five of them:
HOW GOOD IS RYAN GARCIA?
We don’t know. He seems to be good, with natural gifts, good schooling and one-punch knockout power. Fifteen of his 17 KOs have come within four rounds. However, he must prove he can beat next-level opposition. His best foe so far might be Romero Duno or Francisco Fonseca, both of whom he stopped in one round. That’s a far cry from Campbell, an Olympic gold medalist and seasoned pro, and the other top 135-pounders. We want to see how Garcia responds when he’s pushed by an elite fighter, when he faces adversity at the highest level. Only then will we know whether he’s as capable as he seems to be against second-tier opponents.
HOW GOOD IS LUKE CAMPBELL?
Good. Campbell has the Olympic pedigree and God-given gifts, good length, solid speed, solid power. The problem is that he has lost his biggest fights as a professional. He held his own but lost decisions to Jorge Linares and Vasiliy Lomachenko in title fights, although the fact he learned shortly before the Linares fight that his father had died might’ve affected his performance. We simply don’t know whether he has a big victory in him. Again, the ability is there. The break-through success hasn’t been. We’ll learn a lot more about the 33-year-old from Hull on Saturday.
CAN GARCIA HURT CAMPBELL?
We’ll see. The Briton has been down four times but he has never been stopped as a professional. The man is durable. However, he might never have faced an opponent with Garcia’s God-given power. King Ryan has become a knockout artist. He has four consecutive stoppages, the last three in the second, first and first rounds. The last one was a one-punch KO of the Year candidate against the veteran Fonseca that sent the boxing world into a tizzy. Campbell can take a punch. Garcia can crack. Something will have to give on Jan. 2.
IS THIS GARCIA’S COMING OUT PARTY?
Maybe. Garcia already is something of a celebrity, with 7.8 million followers and counting on Instagram. And the 22-year-old has done everything he could do against second-tier opposition since he turned pro in 2016, winning consistently in dominating fashion. He has outboxed three of his opponents and stopped the rest. If he can do the same against a fighter of Campbell’s ability – particularly if he can do it more easily than Linares and Lomachenko did — he will have reached another level in the sport.
DOES THE WINNER GET AN IMMEDIATE SHOT A LEGITIMATE WORLD TITLE?
Not likely. Teofimo Lopez claimed all four major lightweight belts with his victory over Lomachenko, meaning everything goes through him for the time being. The Garcia-Campbell winner is an attractive opponent but Lopez has several good options, including Devin Haney. A more realistic opponent for the Garcia-Campbell winner might be secondary lightweight titleholder Gervonta Davis, although they’re aligned with competing companies. Make no mistake, though: The man who has his hand raised on Saturday will have taken a significant step toward realizing his dreams.