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Preview: Ryan Garcia vs Luke Campbell

Prospect Ryan Garcia faces his first top 10 test in Luke Campbell and the exciting Alvarado brothers defend their respective titles. Watch live on DAZN.

Ryan Garcia v Luke Campbell Press Conference Photo by Tom Hogan/Golden Boy/Getty Images

Ryan Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) is one of the most hyped prospects in boxing and tonight, he takes on former Olympic champion Luke Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) who will be his first real high level test and his first shot at a belt (the interim IBF lightweight title). On the undercard, Rene Alvarado (32-8, 21 KOs) defends his WBA super featherweight title against Roger Gutierrez (24-3-1, 20 KOs) while his twin brother Félix (35-2, 30 KOs) defends his IBF light flyweight belt against DeeJay Kriel (16-1-1, 8 KOs).

Garcia has the potential to be one of boxing’s future stars, he is good looking and has built a very solid social media following. In the ring, his power and blinding speed have the potential to carry him to the highest level. However he is still untested at this level and some of his previous performances have raised some questions. Garcia does very well on the front foot but when pressured he tends to go back in straight lines, and either lift his guard up or tie up and wait for the storm to pass or the referee break. He’s gotten away with it so far but it remains to be seen whether he could against an elite level pressure fighter.

Campbell isn’t a pressure fighter but as a tall southpaw outfighter he still asks some interesting questions of Garcia. He’s put in solid losing efforts against Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko and has proven he can hang with the best in the world. His experience, his jab and left straight to the body could give Garcia a lot of trouble if he’s able to keep his range and slow the fight down to his pace. But while he’s got a lot of tools to trouble Garcia, he’s not gonna take the fight to the inside where Garcia’s seemed the most uncomfortable so far in his career and has struggled with the speed of Linares. He got floored by a blitzing combination from the Venezualian and that’s something Garcia could exploit. This should be a very interesting and tough to predict match up, I expect Garcia’s athletic edge to give him at least a few moments but I’m leaning towards Campbell’s experience carrying him to a close decision in a learning loss for Garcia.

In the co-main event, Rene Alvarado defends the title he took in an upset of Andrew Cancio in a rematch with Roger Gutierrez. Alvarado has a very fun style based on dragging his opponents in mid-range shootouts where he uses his jab and defense just enough to get hit just a bit less than his competition and drawn them with volume. Gutierrez experienced this first hand in their first fight, a 7th round corner stoppage and his first loss back in 2017. He lost his two subsequents big tests before finally winning breaking through with a devastating first round KO loss of undefeated prospect Eduardo Hernandez in 2019.

While that was a good win for Gutierrez, I’m not sure much can be taken from such a short fight. Hernandez was an untested prospect used to steamroll his opposition (he’d only gone longer than 4 rounds once in 28 fights) and seemed like he got caught being careless. Alvarado is a wily veteran and I see the bout being a very fun action fight as is customary with Alvarado but the result remaining the same as it was in their first meeting.

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In the third title bout of the card, Alvarado’s twin brother Felix defends his light flyweight title against former minimumweight champion DeeJay Kriel. Like his brother, Felix’s style is very exciting to watch but while his brother favors the mid-range due to being slightly undersized for superfeatherweight, Felix is big for his division and favors a more bullying pressure style. The constant of both brother’s styles is their relentless pace and volume. Kriel is a decent outside boxer but coming up for minimumweight, I think he lacks the size and power to keep Alvarado off of him and I expect Alvarado to stop him late.

The Alvarado aren’t quite elite fighters but their style makes them must see TV and while it remains to be seen how long their title reigns will last, they shouldn’t be missed. With an intriguing main event and two super fun action fighters, this card should be a great way to get the boxing year started.

Garcia vs Campbell airs on DAZN on Saturday January 2nd with the main event starting at 6:00pm ET / 3:00pm PT and the prelims starting at 3:00pm ET / 12:00pm PT