Just an “Instagram boxer” he is not.
Ryan Garcia, who boasts 7.9 million Instagram followers, passed his toughest professional test Saturday to become the WBC interim lightweight champion as the 22-year-old dispatched Britain’s Luke Campbell with a left hook reminiscent of Julio Cesar Chavez’s fearsome punch.
The sneaky body shot left Campbell in a state of ruin:
“I think I showed a lot of people who I really am,” Garcia said. “They wanted to call me a social media fighter and a lot of names. Anybody who tries to put you down, remember, you’re not who people tell you you are, you’re who you choose to be.”
Billed as “Fire and Ice,” Saturday’s main event in Dallas saw Garcia come out aggressively in the first round looking to end the night early. Garcia landed a big straight right halfway through the first that left Campbell shaken as he continued trying to feel out the younger fighter.
Campbell, 33, turned things around in the second with a huge overhand left that caught Garcia cleanly on the chin and knocked him to the canvas for the first time in his career. Garcia got up and weathered the storm while Campbell seemed to back off a bit, allowing Garcia space to make it through the round.
In the third, Garcia bounced back from the knockdown and used his aggressiveness to keep Campbell on his back foot, but the Brit continuously used his superior defense to hold Garcia off. Campbell’s short hooks to the body kept landing, but Garcia seemed dead set on head hunting and continued pressing forward.
Round 5 ended with a huge combo from Garcia that quite possibly would have ended the fight had the bell not rung with a hurt Campbell hanging on to the ropes to keep from going down.
Smelling blood in the water, Garcia went for the knockout at the start of the sixth with energetic flurries but Campbell survived the assault and the round with his bearings intact.
Garcia had said in interviews ahead of the fight that a body shot would end Campbell’s night. True to his word, Garcia found a home for his left hook in the seventh, much to the detriment of Campbell who dropped to both knees after absorbing the blow and was counted out by the referee.
Next up for Garcia could be a unification bout with WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney, but fans in attendance were also calling for Garcia to face Gervonta Davis.
“I want to be a man of my word. I want to fight ‘Tank,’” Garcia said. “I know people are worried about that. But I’m ready.”
Either fight would be another huge step up for the brash young fighter, but after the way he took care of business against Campbell on Saturday, the sky is the limit for Garcia.
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