Ryan Garcia's seventh-round finish of the previously-unstopped Luke Campbell on Saturday not only earned him the interim WBC lightweight title and mandatory status to champion Devin Haney, but also convinced a lot of doubters that "King Ry" is a bona fide member of a stacked division.
That Garcia had to weather a surprising knockdown in Round 2 — the first of his career — made the victory over Campbell all the more impressive. But it also gave his entire team a huge fright.
Oscar De La Hoya, Garcia's promoter and legendary former fighter, admitted after the main event bout in Dallas, Texas that the shots his man sustained were as vital to his progress as the pulverising shot to Campbell's liver that won the contest.
“It was like a flash knockdown, right? But it was a scary flash knockdown,” De La Hoya said. “And he became a man, that’s all there is to it. He became a man tonight. He needed this fight for validation. He needed this fight to prove to the boxing world that he belongs in there, and he passed with flying colors.
“He did what every great champion does, get right back up. Especially from a really vicious right hook, it was a vicious right hook.”
So, how did De La Hoya rate this crucial performance in the 22-year-olds rise up the ranks?
“A-plus, A-plus," he added. "He did what he had to do.
"He took his time, he went after him when he had him hurt in (the sixth round). People went crazy, and that’s the making of a superstar.”
Theoretically, a shot at fellow young unbeaten competitor Haney is next, with WBC mandatory status confirmed by the victory.
However De La Hoya was careful not to verbally commit to saying that's exactly what they would do, despite boxing fans clamouring for lightweights such as Garcia, Haney, WBA regular champ Gervonta Davis and unified titleholder Teofimo Lopez Jr. to engage in huge belt-for-belt, "0"-for-"0" showdowns in 2021.
“Yeah, we could possibly see that happen when we’re ready, when Ryan is ready," De La Hoya said. "Obviously Ryan is ready to face anybody, that’s never a doubt. But it’s gonna be on our terms of Ryan Garcia.
"And it doesn’t mean business or this and that. No, when he’s ready, when he wants to. Every champion out there needs Ryan Garcia, it’s not the other way around.”