Luke Campbell may have let an opportunity of a lifetime slip from him in the pivotal second round of his fight against Ryan Garcia, but according to the Yorkshire man, to do so would have been to court disaster.
The southpaw Campbell put Garcia down on the canvas with a hard overhand left in the second round of their lightweight fight last Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. But instead of pouncing on his maimed foe, Campbell went right back to boxing. Some observers have pointed to that moment as a squandered opportunity, given that Garcia would go on to stop Campbell with a crunching body shot in the seventh round. Campbell disagrees, saying playing it cautiously was the right move at the time since Garcia, a gifted counterpuncher, was still on a pair of sturdy legs.
“When he got back up (from the knockdown) he seemed to recover straightaway,” Campbell told IFL TV. “I wanted to go in and get the job done with but he was back. You know when someone isn’t all there with it, but he was back and if I rushed in there I was going to get caught on the way in. So I thought I would continue to pick my shots up instead of winging in and getting caught myself.”
Not only did Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) get up relatively unscathed from his first knockdown as a professional, he would finish out the round by walking down Campbell.
“He instantly recovered from it,” Campbell said. “You get up and (usually) you’re on shaky legs and still not with it. I just thought oh his legs seem to be back, so I thought if I go in there, rushing, I’ll get hit myself. So i just thought, picking nice shots and we’ll catch him again.”
Still, the 33-year-old Campbell (20-4, 16 KOs), an Olympic gold medalist, did not shy from expressing his disappointment with the outcome of the bout. Campbell’s other losses have been against Vasyl Lomachenko, Jorge Linares, and Yvan Mendy. But the loss to Garcia was easily the most punishing one of his career.
“It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I’m used to winning,” he said. “I’ve got that winning mentality so when you lose it’s really hard to swallow, that’s it. But it was a fantastic fight until round seven. That never happened to me before. It was a fantastic shot, but I have to move on from it.”
Campbell admitted that Garcia, the social media sensation, was better than he expected.
“Yeah, being honest, yeah. I honestly thought once I started hitting him he would want out, so that took me by surprise,” Campbell said.