SAN ANTONIO – Eddie Hearn didn’t think Ryan Garcia would agree to face Luke Campbell, even after the WBC ordered their fight for its interim lightweight title.
Campbell’s promoter figured Garcia would pursue a less imposing opponent next. Hearn revealed recently that even some executives for Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions weren’t convinced Garcia would want to box Campbell next, before they eventually finalized their deal to meet December 5.
Their 12-round, 135-pound championship bout was postponed four weeks because Campbell contracted COVID-19 in November. They’ll fight Saturday night in the main event of a five-fight card at American Airlines Center in Dallas (DAZN; 8 p.m. GMT; 3 p.m. EST).
“[I was] very, very surprised,” Hearn told a small group of reporters recently. “I thought – and I won’t throw anyone under a bus at Golden Boy – but I know some of them were surprised. You know, because it’s not that they don’t rate Ryan Garcia. But what I like about Ryan Garcia and [trainer] Eddy Reynoso is they’re backing it up. So, you can talk sh-t and you can have a load of Instagram followers, but jumping in a fight like that is another thing. So, they obviously believe. Eddy Reynoso’s a very smart man. He wouldn’t be taking this fight if he didn’t think they could win.”
Hearn considers Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) a dangerous, talented boxer, but he pointed out that the 33-year-old Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) is by far the most accomplished, credible opponent of Garcia’s five-year professional career.
The southpaw from Hull, England, is 0-2 in lightweight world title bouts and has lost 12-round decisions to Vasiliy Lomachenko, Jorge Linares and Yvan Mendy. Campbell’s durability and technical skill could cause trouble for the 22-year-old Garcia, who has boxed beyond the fifth round only three times and never more than 10 rounds.
Hearn doesn’t suspect Garcia’s promoters tried to talk him out of battling Campbell next. He just knows they realize that the 2012 Olympic gold medalist represents a steep step up in class for the brash, hard-hitting Garcia, of Victorville, California.
“I’m not sure they’ve got the power to do that,” Hearn said. “But it wasn’t that they said, ‘Oh, don’t take the fight.’ But I think in conversations, [they said], ‘I’m not sure that’ll be accepted.’ And it was like, ‘It’s on!’ … Maybe as it draws closer, they’ve realized they’ve made a bit of a mistake.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.