By Jeff Zimmerman at ringside
Lightweight Ryan “KingRy” Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) proved once again he is more than a social media sensation with his close to 8M followers on Instagram and showed he’s the real deal in the ring with his 7th round knockout of UK star Luke “Cool Hands” Campbell (20-4, 16 KOs) to claim the vacant WBC interim lightweight title on Saturday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
Campbell was supposed to be Garcia’s toughest fight to date, at least on paper, and after he dropped Garcia with a massive left hook to the jaw in the 2nd round, it clearly looked to be the case. But Garcia, who has never been on the canvas, got quickly to his feet and continued to take the fight to Campbell who tried to counteract the insane speed of Garcia with timing counter shots of his own. Garcia would have had most opponents out of there early, but Campbell stood strong and was able to take everything thrown at him to that point.
But then came the seventh round of the scheduled twelve, when Garcia landed a blistering left to the body that put Campbell to his knees. The shot debilitated Campbell as he did everything he could to get back to his feet as referee Laurence Cole counted to ten. The time was 1:58 of round seven.
Garcia told DAZN’s Chris Mannix after the fight that he told everyone it would be a body shot and he delivered. He then asked the pro-Garcia sellout crowd who they wanted him to fight next as his long time amateur rival, and current WBC lightweight champ Devin Haney was in attendance. Garcia stated he prefers Tank Davis, but wouldn’t mind fighting Haney, as he looked over in Haney’s direction.
The 22-year-old Garcia showed he is potentially boxing’s next superstar with his Hollywood good looks and crowd pleasing performances after stopping the former Olympic Gold Medalist Campbell who has been in title fights with both Linares and Lomachenko the last few years, both losses. But none of this worried Garcia leading up to the biggest fight of his career to date, who has been training under the tutelage of Eddy Reynoso and working out with the current pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez who was in attendance to show his support for his stablemate.
After tonight, Garcia is clearly on his way to taking the torch from Canelo, who won in San Antonio a few weeks ago against another Brit, Callum Smith. And don’t be surprised to see Garcia back in Dallas down the road as Texas is one of Golden Boys favorite landing spots and a city that won a contest by Garcia a few years ago by showing the most support in the country as Garcia came and did a meet and greet for hundreds of adoring fans, mostly young girls in their early teens. Fast forward a few years later and Garcia showed all that early social media work and the work in the gym as well was just the beginning of his rise to superstar status in and out of the ring,
Garcia’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, knows something about being a superstar in and out of the ring in his hall of fame career as he gave his prized pupil an A+ after that performance and when asked by Fightnews.com® if he was Oscar 2.0 at the pre-fight presser, Oscar said he was Oscar 5.0. After tonight, Fightnews.com® asked again and Oscar said 6.0 as he laughed at hearing the question again.
De La Hoya added, “This is the kind of fight where superstars are made. 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.”
Garcia proved nothing was going to stop him tonight.
“My performance definitely showed a lot of people who I really am,” said Ryan Garcia. “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 couldn’t stop me from being champion.”