Trainer Shane McGuigan is not about to let his confidence in Luke Campbell detract from his pragmatist outlook.
A 33-year-old native of the UK, Campbell will go into enemy territory on Jan. 1 when he swaps punches with the sharpshooting Tik-Tok phenom Ryan Garcia, 22, at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Given Garcia’s popularity and the fact that he has home-court advantage (Garcia resides in Los Angeles, Calif.), McGuigan understands that his charge will need to do more than box his way to a victory. In fact, McGuigan thinks he needs to shoot for a stoppage.
“I’m expecting a lively fight,” McGuigan told CR Media. “A very dangerous fight early on. Ryan Garcia’s going to be dangerous all the way through, and in close rounds we’re not going to get them. So we’re going to have to win rounds big and potentially knock this kid out. I’m more than confident that Luke can do that.”
Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) concurred.
“I’ve already stated a prediction over and over again and that’s not really changed,” said Campbell. “I do believe that as the rounds get to the end, I’ll hurt him, break him down – I’ll stop him.”
Although more than 10 years in age separate Campbell from Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs), McGuigan does not see this as a crossroads fight between an aging gatekeeper and rising contender.
“From a physical standpoint, even though he’s 33, he’s only really filling into his physicality,” McGuigan said of Campbell. “He’s been a late bloomer. He jokes about it when he was a kid. All his other mates, their voices dropped and they were getting facial hair and stuff, he didn’t get that for years later. His biological age is different to somebody else’s. I feel from a physical standpoint he’s in his prime.”
One thing that Campbell has going for him is experience. A 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Campbell last fought against Vasyl Lomachenko in August 2019, dropping a hard-fought decision in what was his second bid for a world title. His first title shot came against Jorge Linares in 2017, which he lost by split decision.
“He’s going up against a young, hungry, fresh kid who’s full of confidence and full of athleticism,” McGuigan said, “but all of the lessons Luke has learned from the amateurs and all of the mindsets that he has overcome from the defeats and stuff I feel like this is going to stand him in amazing stead for the next two, three years of his career.”