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The Fights

I Hope To God I Never Understand How This Ryan García Knockout Really Feels

Luke Campbell kneels on the canvas after a body shot by Ryan Garcia
Tim Warner/Getty

Twenty-two-year-old pretty boy lightweight Ryan García earned the most legit win of his career so far on Saturday night, surviving a surprising second-round knockdown by the veteran Luke Campbell to deliver a cruel KO in the seventh. After an 11-month layoff—and after a series of opponents who couldn’t even last six minutes in the ring with him—this was a very good albeit imperfect win for García, a potential superstar on the rise whose follower counts get boxing insiders just as excited as his ten counts. With the WBC interim lightweight title now in hand, “The Flash” now has a clear path to bigger and better match-ups in one of boxing’s most intriguing weight classes.

That’s all a very professional, boxing-knower way of obscuring what I really want to say about García-Campbell, which is closer to the following: Oh god. Oh jeez. Aw shit. Goddamn, man. Would it be too much to ask someone to get Luke Campbell under anesthesia so we can open him up and confirm that, like, his pancreas isn’t suddenly where his gallbladder should be? Because ouch, that winning body shot just makes me want to puke, and I was 1500 miles away from its point of impact.

See for yourself if I’m being hyperbolic about this left-handed hook that caused so much pain that it made a man who went the distance with Vasyl Lomachenko and had never been stopped in his career fall to his knees in despair. You can see his bloody rib cage shake on the replay, for Christ’s sake.

God, I hate body shots. Well, no, who am I kidding? I love them. Compared to the sudden flash of a face KO, there’s something to savor about a perfectly placed punch right above the belt that drains a boxer of all his strength seemingly in slow motion—like when García co-signer Canelo Alvarez made Rocky Fielding crumble like a poorly preserved statue with a repeated assault to the midsection at MSG a couple years ago. There’s a disturbing kind of art to winning a fight like that, and I respect the hell out of it.

What I mean to write is, I hate the idea of body shots ever being done to me, the protagonist of this world. I treasure my soul and do not want to see it escape my mortal form simply because a Californian with eight million Instagram followers has decided to park his fist in my liver’s driveway. And for that reason, I shudder with fright when I rewatch that García highlight. It’s not something I wish to comprehend too deeply, but I can’t imagine a more painful form of entertainment.

“That was the hardest shot I was ever hit with,” Campbell said after the bout. “I tried and tried to get up, but I couldn’t. I felt him coming on, and I was moving back, and when you move back, my body relaxed a little bit, and that’s the exact time he hit me.”

It sure seems like it would have sucked to be Luke Campbell on Saturday night, even if he walks away with hundreds of thousands of dollars for his distress. I will count myself very lucky if I can never make a more definitive statement than that.