It’s sink or swim time for “Kingry” as “Cool Hand” Luke comes to Dallas looking to prove a point.
2021 starts with a real bang this weekend, as Ryan Garcia and Luke Campbell collide at 135lbs for the WBC’s interim strap. In a fight labelled “Fire meets Ice”, the flashy, inexperienced and hyped Garcia looks to extend his unbeaten start to professional life against the experienced and brave Briton, “Coolhand” Luke.
It’s a real treat to have a thinker of a fight this fresh into the new year. There’s plenty to consider as we await the first bell in Dallas, between two guys at different ends of their careers.
How to Watch Garcia vs Campbell
Date: Saturday, Jan. 2 | Start Time: 3:00 pm ET
Location: American Airlines Center – Dallas, TX
Online Coverage: BadLeftHook.com
Youth vs experience
This is arguably the biggest factor coming into this fight. Garcia has been manoeuvred gently into life as a pro under the careful guidance of Golden Boy Promotions, unwilling to take unnecessary risks as the profile of the 22-year-old grows. Now, it seems, is the time for a necessary risk, as the charge towards a title at 135lbs begins for “Kingry”.
And Campbell is a risk. The 33-year-old oozes experience. From World Championship silver in 2011 to an Olympic gold the following year, Campbell was one of Great Britain’s stand-out amateurs. Professional life for “Coolhand” has been a mix of success, frustration and disappointment. Lessons were learnt in two world title defeats against Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko, as well as avenging a 2015 loss to Yvan Mendy.
Campbell knows what it’s like to dig deep in a fight when the whole world is against him. He fought bravely against Linares despite being dropped early and losing his father two weeks previously to cancer – a heartbreak that he kept secret until the final bell had chimed inside The Forum. He’s been the away fighter before and has risen from the canvas on four occasions.
Still, the criticism, rightly so, will surround the fact that Campbell has fallen short in his biggest tests. He’s shown us his heart on multiple occasions, but now Campbell is adamant that his skill set will prevail over the youngster.
Experience is only worthwhile if you learn from it. Campbell has had plenty of lessons in the lead up to this fight and will be looking to execute the perfect game plan. Whether Garcia has or needs a plan B is a huge unknown.
Campbell has been dropped four times as a professional by an array of punches, but has yet to be stopped. Garcia has stopped all bar three of his 20 opponents and will be looking to bring the heat to the away fighter once again this weekend and chip away at his armour.
Garcia hasn’t fought a southpaw since toppling Noe Martinez Raygoza in the final round of their contest back in 2017, and the youngster’s devastatingly flashy left hook may struggle to find a home against the seasoned Campbell.
Straight, well-timed right hands were what did the damage to Campbell in fights against Argenis Mendez, Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko (following a body assault), with Yvan Mendy the man to follow the blueprint of how to land a left hook.
Campbell’s guard should remain high with the right glove, with an importance of circling to his left a big weapon in negating the threat of Garcia’s left hook. Using feints off the left hooks, Garcia should be looking to time Campbell onto a straight right early in the fight, using his speed to beat the Briton to the punch.
Campbell’s bravery has seen him through his biggest tests, and Garcia will need to keep Campbell down if he manages to put him down. Campbell rallied late against Linares, and with Garcia never seeing the eleventh or twelfth round of a fight, he’ll be looking to survive and drag him into deeper waters.
Lewis Watson is a sports writer from London, UK. Follow or contact him on Twitter @lewroyscribbles