Luke Campbell’s Most Memorable Moments
By Leif Payne
Luke Campbell MBE, the pride of Hull, Olympic gold medallist and world title challenger recently announced his retirement from boxing, a sport he dedicated most of his life to.
Although never reaching the peak of the professional game, Campbell had a great career with many memories made along the way. In my first article for FightPost I take a look back at the most memorable moments of his long career.
Golden in London
2012 saw the Summer Olympic Games come to London as the city became the first to host the modern Games three times. In the list of the uber talented athletes to represent team GB was a 24-year-old boxing golden boy Luke Campbell who would go on to grab gold with his two other Team GB boxers that year, Anthony Joshua OBE and Nicola Adams OBE.
Campbell, fighting in the men’s bantamweight division, opened his Olympic boxing account with a 11:9 victory over the Italian, Vittorio Parrinello. Moving onto the quarter-finals he would take a close decision over Detelin Alakliev of Bulgaria, a victory which was controversially given to the fighter from Hull.
Campbells next opponent in the semi-final would be Satoshi Shimizu from Japan. Shimizu was earlier defeated in the tournament but was later reinstated by AIBA after a successful appeal after a defeat by Magomed Abdulhamidov. Campbell boxed to a 20:11 victory over the Japanese representative.
Landing himself in the final, the Brit would face John Joe Nevin from Ireland. He dropped Nevin at the start of the third round and went on to become the first British bantamweight to win Olympic gold since Henry Thomas in 1908.
A year on from his Olympic triumph, ‘Cool Hand’ was to make his much-anticipated debut to the professional game in July 2013. He would make his debut at lightweight, a division which he would box in during his whole pro career.
Facing Andy Harris at Craven Park, Hull, Campbell dropped Harris in the opening moments of the first round with a swooping right hook counter whilst on the back foot.
Harris would drag himself up off the canvas again shortly after but wouldn’t make it to the end of the round before the referee intervened and called a stop to the fight.
Campbell continued his dominance in the early stages of his career. In his first ten fights as a professional he would stop eight of his opponents. He would win his first title in his 12th fight as he stopped Tommy Coyle in the tenth round to win the vacant WBC International lightweight title in 2015.
Bumps in the Road
December 2015 would see Campbell’s first pro defeat when he lost a split decision to the travelling Frenchman Yvan Mendy at the 02 Arena in London.
A massive upset at the time, many would criticise Campbell and begin to question if he was everything the media made him out to be.
Campbell bounced back in his next five fights and along the way would win the Commonwealth title against Gary Sykes and the WBC Silver title against Argenis Mendez.
Reaching the Next Level
In his toughest test so far in his career, in 2017, Campbell made his debut at Wembley Stadium and faced the experienced Darley’s Perez on the Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko undercard.
Perez, who held the WBA lightweight title in 2015, would come into the fight with an outstanding record of 33 wins in 37 fights. Before the fight with Campbell, which would be his penultimate fight, he had faced the likes of Anthony Crolla, Maurice Hooker and Yuirorkos Gamboa.
The fight would be an eliminator for the title that Perez lost to Crolla just two years before in Manchester. In the ninth round, the fight would be stopped due to an arm injury that occurred to Perez following an awkward left hook.
Campbell lost the opening few rounds but boxed his way back into contention at the halfway point. Perez before the ninth looked fatigued and it would be likely that if the fight hadn’t stopped early then Campbell would’ve taken it on points and become victorious either way.
World Title Challenges
After the win over Perez, Campbell would become the rightful challenger for Jorge Linares’ WBA and The Ring lightweight titles. The fighter from Hull would make his second professional appearance in The United States as the fight took place in California at the Forum in Inglewood.
September 2017, ‘Cool Hand’ would fall short in his courageous challenge against Linares. Losing on a split decision over 12 rounds, Campbell would be within touching distance of becoming world champion, however, an early knockdown in the second round proved to be the deciding factor.
One judge scored the fight 115–113 for Campbell, the two others had it 115–112 and 114–113 in favour of Linares.
Linares who would prove to be one of the most underrated champions of the last decade is no blemish on the record of Campbell, a respected loss to a true artist of boxing.
After three bounce back fights in the next two years which would see Campbell revenge his loss over Mendy. It was announced that he would face pound for pound great Vasyl Lomachenko at the O2 Arena for Loma’s WBA (Super), WBO, The Ring, and vacant WBC lightweight titles.
In the build-up to the fight, expert analyst, Paulie Malignaggi labelled Campbell as “one of the better fighters in the world to have not won a world championship.”
Marking Campbell’s second world title challenge in five fights, ‘Cool Hand’ would box superbly against the Ukraine but would once again fall short in what is one of the best performances against Loma in recent memory.
Ryan Garcia and Retirement
At the start of 2021 it was announced that Campbell would fight the young and explosive Ryan Garcia for the WBC interim title.
Again, being the underdog in a big fight, Campbell would shock all viewing as he become the first fighter to drop Garcia. Doing so with a stiff left hand in the second it wouldn’t be enough as Garcia recovered.
In the seventh round, Campbell got a taste of his own medicine as a wicked body shot dropped ‘Cool Hand’. He would fail to beat the count and the fight would become the only loss on Campbells career that ended due to stoppage.
Six months later, Campbell announced his retirement from the sport as he insists on spending more time with his beloved family.
He released a statement on Twitter, saying
“Every fight, right the way from my debut on 13th June 2013, up to my last on 2nd January 2021, the cheers and messages of encouragement have always been monumental. Throughout my career I’ve tried to test myself against the very best in the industry and never shied away from anyone. I’m so grateful this hasn’t gone unnoticed from supporters, and I appreciate you all.”
Luke Campbell retires from the sport with a record of 24 fights, 20 wins (16 KOs) and 4 defeats.