The 2021 boxing schedule delivers an early treat as the much-hyped Ryan Garcia aims to prove he is the real deal when he faces Luke Campbell in Dallas.
After 2020 was heavily interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, fight fans will be hoping for better – and undoubtedly busier – times in the coming months. Could we see Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez versus Gennadiy Golovkin for a third time? Will heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury really do battle? And can a showdown between Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford finally be made?
Before then, however, there is a January offering that certainly provides plenty of intrigue.
Garcia appears the great hope for Golden Boy Promotions, a 22-year-old Californian with fast hands, a perfect record and huge potential, aided by having 7.8 million followers on Instagram.
'King Ry' has reigned in his 20 fights so far, the last four of which have seen him working with Eddy Reynoso, the trainer who has helped develop Canelo into the sport's biggest superstar. The hope is the young pretender can, one day, follow in the Mexican's footsteps.
His previous two outings have failed to even last beyond the opening round, but there is an element of risk attached to this bid to claim the interim WBC lightweight title on Saturday.
Campbell is by far the best name Garcia will have faced. The Englishman won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London before turning pro and, while a world title has so far eluded him in the paid ranks, it is not for a lack of effort.
Campbell narrowly missed out on achieving his goal when challenging Jorge Linares in September 2017, eventually losing on points. He also came up short against Vasyl Lomachenko 15 months ago, though again went the distance. The final scores were lopsided but did not do the challenger's efforts justice when facing a pound-for-pound contender.
Garcia has suggested fans "don't blink" in the build-up to this weekend, but Campbell's pedigree suggests there is little reason to expect another early finish. A well-tuned southpaw style and smooth footwork should at least make the latter hard to hit, for starters.
Whatever unfolds, we will know far more about one of boxing's brightest prospects after the main event at the American Airlines Center.
Garcia wasted little time against Francisco Fonseca in his previous bout, his second successive first-round stoppage having needed just 98 seconds to deal with Romero Duno in November of 2019.
There have been tougher outings in his career to do date, however, including going 10 rounds with both Jayson Velez, at super-featherweight, and Carlos Morales, before eventually winning on points.
Still, there is no one on his record to match who Campbell has shared a ring with.
'Cool Hand' has not fought since that points loss to Lomachenko, while he was previously on the wrong end of a split-decision verdict after 12 absorbing rounds with Linares. Yvan Mendy is the other defeat on his pro record - and Campbell avenged that shock result by beating the Frenchman in a rematch.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Height: 5ft 10ins (178cm)
Weight: 135 pounds (9st 6lbs)
Professional record: 20-0 (17 KOs)
Height: 5ft 9ins (175cm)
Weight: 135 pounds (9st 6lbs)
Professional record: 20-3 (16 KOs)
Major career titles: Commonwealth (lightweight)
Rene Alvarado's defence of the WBA super-featherweight title against Roger Gutierrez is the chief support on Saturday, though not the only interesting fight on the Dallas card.
Felix Alvarado makes the second defence of the IBF belt against fellow light-flyweight DeeJay Kriel, while the unbeaten Raul Curiel takes on Ramses Agaton at welterweight.
Look out for Asa Stevens too, an amateur star finally set to make his professional debut having signed with Golden Boy back in February 2020.
Having won gold at the 2018 Youth World Championships, Stevens opted not to carry on for a tilt at Olympic gold. Instead, the bantamweight begins his career against Francisco Bonilla, a 34-year-old Mexican who has been stopped in his previous two outings.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY...
Garcia on what he expects in the fight: "I've trained for a war because I know Luke is a tough guy. When he gets hit, he gets dropped and gets back up and keeps fighting. If he can take the shots and he gets dropped, I've seen him get up and fight on. I think that it might be a good fight."
Campbell on his long-term outlook: "I want to prove I'm the best in the division. I believe I'm the best in the division. Once I beat Ryan, that will answer a lot of questions."
Promoter Eddie Hearn offers a prediction on social media: "Luke wins by TKO inside nine!"
Reynoso responds on Twitter: Garcia is ready to shine and win by ko!! Sorry Eddie Hearn."