Lomachenko vs Campbell Full Show Preview
By James Hailston
Tonight the UK will welcome to its shores one of, if not the best, pound for pound fighters in the world today. Ukrainian superstar Vasyl Lomachenko will fight in Britain for the first time as a professional when he tackles Hull’s Luke Campbell at the O2 Arena in London.
Lomachenko’s WBA, WBO and Ring magazine lightweight titles will be on the line as well as the vacant WBC belt.
Although ‘Loma’ can’t boast the same mainstream popularity that some of the previous pound for pound kings such as Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao once could, there is certainly a rare buzz among British boxing fans ahead of his appearance this weekend.
In recent years Oleksandr Usyk, Gennady Golovkin, Terence Crawford, Errol Spence, Naoya Inoue and Wladimir Klitschko have all showcased their elite level skill sets inside a British ring. Yet it could be argued none of them carried the same aura of excitement at seeing them box live that Lomachenko appears to be among British fight fans.
It’s testament to Lomachenko’s abilities that Campbell is such a big underdog. Arguably the best amateur Britain’s ever produced, culminating in an Olympic gold medal in 2012, the rangy southpaw has steadily improved into a world class pro.
Two defeats – one he’s avenged and a split decision loss to Jorge Linares – improved him greatly as did his decision to train under Shane Mcguigan. Against any other lightweight in the world right now he’d likely be instilled as favourite, but Lomachenko isn’t any other lightweight.
As if his 396-1 record as an amateur (2x Olympic gold, 2x World gold, 1 World silver and 1 European gold) isn’t frightening enough, he is also a 3 weight world champion after just 14 professional fights.
Lomachenko has suffered just one defeat in his 14 fight career but that was in just his second bout against an overweight Orlando Salido which in hindsight probably only improved his transition from the amateurs to the pros at an even more rapid rate.
Campbell has attributes on his side. He’s the bigger man, a fellow southpaw, the bigger puncher and has technical skill to go with his rangy build. But saying how he can use these to his advantage and actually executing it are two very different things.
Some of the best trainers in the world struggle to pick apart exactly what Lomachenko is doing when he’s in full flow let alone anyone else. Quick hands, even quicker feet, accuracy, a superb work rate and an unrivalled ability to dictate his opponents every move all make him very close to unbeatable.
But for as long as Campbell believes he can win, which he certainly appears too, he has some sort of chance.
Come Saturday night will we see Luke Campbell’s crowning moment of his career in the same city he won his gold medal? Or just another masterclass from a Ukrainian genius who in time could be seen as one of the best to ever lace them up?
In the chief support there’s an interesting heavyweight clash as Hughie Fury takes on Alexander Povetkin. Fury is still only 24 and is 15 years younger than his Russian opponent but has not yet hit anywhere near the heights Povetkin once did.
The 3rd Olympic gold medalist on this card, Povetkin can box and bang. He’s only ever lost too Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua and has 24 stoppages from 34 wins. His legs and hands aren’t as quick as they once were though and if Fury – the taller man and a good mover – can blend a more aggressive offence with an already slippery defence he may cause a minor upset here.
Also on the card Charlie Edwards defends his WBC flyweight title against Julio Cesar Martinez of Mexico. Martinez lost his pro debut and has only had 15 fights but if you appreciate Andrew Selby’s talents then you’ll know why he may be a handful for Edwards. Martinez stopped the skilful Welshman in 5 rounds last time out. Edwards though is on fire at the moment and will be confident of a successful defence.
Joshua Buatsi will take on Canadian Ryan Ford in a light heavy 10 rounder further down the card. Buatsi will be looking to enhance his already growing reputation by becoming the first man to stop Ford who has previously fought down at super middle.
There’s an all Welsh match up between Joe Cordina and Gavin Gwynne for the formers British and Commonwealth lightweight titles to look forward too as well. Both are undefeated but it’s former team GB man Cordina who starts as a big favourite.
Ireland’s James Tennyson meets Rotherham’s Atif Shafiq in a lightweight contest. Savannah Marshall takes on Daniele Basteri over 8 x 2’s at super middle. Dalton Smith fights Darryl Pearce at super lightweight and Martin J Ward is back in action at super feather against Josue Bendana. Finally Connor Coghill is in a 4 rounder against Dean Jones, also at super feather.