Luke Campbell has dismissed the training videos Ryan García posted on his popular social media channels as irrelevant. Campbell insists that his elite-level experience, not García’s 7.8 million Instagram followers, will decide their fight on Saturday.
The English lightweight believes the knowledge and lessons he has learned over a distinguished amateur and professional career will see him spoil García’s perfect record, which has established García as one of boxing’s most promising prospects.
Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs), 33, won a gold medal in the bantamweight division at the 2012 Olympics. He’s faced the best at lightweight as a professional, losing world title fights on points to Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2019 — when Lomachenko was regarded as the sport’s pound-for-pound No. 1 — and to Jorge Linares in 2017.
García (20-0, 17 KOs), 22, from Los Angeles, has yet to fight for a world title, but he’s been exciting to watch. He’s attracted a huge following on social media, but Campbell is not one of the millions of Instagram followers who have been admiring García’s displays of hand speed. Quite simply, he’s not buying the hype.
“I don’t know a lot about him except that he’s got a huge profile on social media, a hell of a lot of followers,” Campbell told ESPN. “When you have that amount of followers, you have to keep them interested with stuff, videos. For me, I prefer to just live my life. I’ve not followed his career. I’ve had no reason to.
“It all looks good on video, but there’s plenty of kids out there who can hit the pads quickly — but not look good in the ring. You can throw 1,000 uppercuts in 5 seconds on the pads. But it’s not real. There’s no one in front of you trying to take your head [off], just someone holding the pads.”
Campbell faces García for the WBC interim lightweight belt at the American Airlines Center in Dallas in a fight that was pushed back a month because the English boxer tested positive for COVID-19. Victory will set up a shot at WBC world lightweight champion Devin Haney (25-0, 15 KOs), who outpointed Yuriorkis Gamboa in November.
“It’s a great opportunity for the winner,” Campbell said. “I feel like I’m coming into my prime and I’ve not hit my peak yet or shown what I’m capable of. It’s taken me longer than other people to adjust into the pro game, to find my feet. I feel as if I’m just getting there.
“I want to be a world champion,” he continued. “I’m probably about 70 percent more well known than other world champions out there, and that’s something I’ve also wanted to achieve — to be well known by boxing fans for fighting at world-class level.”
Campbell has acquitted himself well in title fights but is still trying to become a world champion like his Great Britain boxing teammates from the 2012 Olympics: Anthony Joshua (WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion) and Josh Taylor (WBA, IBF world junior welterweight champion).
The losses to Lomachenko and Linares taught lessons Campbell believes have made him a better boxer. He learned what it takes to compete against the world’s best while dealing with major adversity. Two weeks before the Linares bout, Campbell’s father died.
“I didn’t feel like there was a big difference in there against Lomachenko, and a lot of the rounds were close. He would nick it with a 15-second burst at the end of the round,” Campbell said. “There were a few [rounds] he won convincingly, but there were a few rounds I felt I won, too. I learned a lot from the fight, and he was the best out there at the time, so it was no disgrace going 12 rounds with him.
“Fighting Linares, I showed that I belong at the top level, and that was with so much going wrong for me going into the ring and I still went in there and nearly won the fight. That was my mental strength that got me through it, and I thought I beat Linares by two clear rounds.”
That Linares decision eats away at Campbell, who also draws motivation from his belief that he pushed Lomachenko close. After Campbell left his family to travel to the U.S. before Christmas, García will find a dangerously motivated fighter in the opposite corner who is convinced he has too much experience for the Californian.