Luke Campbell believes he can take step forward with victory over Ryan Garcia

PA Sport Staff
·3-min read

Luke Campbell believes he will take a major step towards establishing himself as the best fighter in a lightweight division rich with talent by beating rising American star Ryan Garcia on Saturday night.

It has been almost 18 months since the London 2012 gold medallist was beaten by Vasyl Lomachenko, a bout which had three of the four major world titles on the line, in his last outing.

A win at the American Airlines Center in Dallas against Garcia – who has won all 20 of his professional contests, 17 inside the distance – would likely lead to a shot against current WBC titlist Devin Haney later on in 2021.

With the prospect of a third world title opportunity within his grasp, Campbell said at the pre-fight press conference: “I want to prove that I’m the best in the division and I believe I’m the best in the division.

“My strategy is just to win by any means possible. Once I beat Ryan that will answer a lot of questions.

“I’ve come to fight, this will be a fantastic fight and I believe it’s two of the best in the division that are facing off against each other. It’s going to be a fantastic fight.”

Campbell (20-3, 16KOs) came up agonisingly short against Jorge Linares for the WBA title in September 2017 and although he put in a brave performance against Lomachenko, the Briton was thoroughly outclassed.

He added: “Everybody says that I performed well but I know myself I didn’t perform to the best of my ability. When I watch that fight back (I know) I can be so much better than that.

Luke Campbell, left, admitted he was disappointed in his performance against Vasyl Lomachenko in August 2019 (Steven Paston/PA)
Luke Campbell, left, admitted he was disappointed in his performance against Vasyl Lomachenko in August 2019 (Steven Paston/PA)

“Ever since then I’ve trained and strived to be the best that I can be and be the best version that I can be for this fight.”

Garcia’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya confirmed the arena will be around a quarter full as his protege looks to take the next step in his development.

The 22-year-old has stopped his last two opponents – Romero Duno and Francisco Fonseca – in the first round and De La Hoya is confident the best is yet to come.

De La Hoya said: “Ryan Garcia is probably the hardest worker in boxing today. When people watch him for the first time, they’re taken aback and surprised about easily he can dismantle an opponent.

“We have put him in with very tough opponents and he keeps steamrolling every single opponent.

“We haven’t seen the best of Ryan Garcia, he’s 22 years old, he hasn’t grown into his man strength and he’s just right now getting stronger and faster and smarter. On Saturday it will be something special.”

On Campbell, De La Hoya added: “I think the experience is a factor in this fight. The fact Luke Campbell is an Olympic gold medallist gives him a lot of confidence.”

Garcia, who amassed an amateur record of 215-15 before turning to the paid ranks and is followed by 7.8million people on Instagram, admitted taking on Campbell is a big step up in class, but one he is ready for.

He said: “I’ve trained for a war because I know Luke is a tough guy. When he gets dropped, he gets up and keeps fighting. If he can take the shot, I’ve seen him get up and fight on. It might be a good fight.

“But I just know that with my skills and all the hard work that I put in, I’m confident that I will be victorious.”