New Faces: Luke Campbell
Hometown: Hull, England
Weight class: Lightweight
Height / reach: 5-foot-9 (175 cm)/ 71 inches (180 cm)
Amateur record: 153-24
Turned pro: 2013
Pro record: 9-0, 7 knockouts
Trainer(s): Tony Sims, Mike Bromby
Manager: Tony Sims
Promoter: Matchroom Boxing
Best night of pro career: Campbell considers his most impressive performance to date to be against gritty Argentine Daniel Brizuela, who he stopped in five rounds last October.
“My last fight, I beat a guy who was far more experienced than me in the professional game,” Campbell told RingTV.com. “I’ve got to say he was my toughest test but also my best performance.”
Worst night of pro career: Campbell returned from five months off last summer, his father was ill and he understandably wasn’t in the right frame of mind for his fight with Craig Woodruff.
“I’d overtrained for that fight,” he said. “Mentally and body-wise my body wasn’t right at all and I just wasn’t thinking.
“Saying that, I beat a very tricky, awkward opponent that nobody wanted to fight. I still got the job done and won every round and if there had been two more rounds I’d have probably had him out of there.”
Next fight: Campbell will make his 2015 bow against Nicaraguan Levis Morales (11-1-1, 4 KOs) on Saturday in his hometown of Hull. Previously, Campbell had pulled out of fighting on March 7 because of his father’s health, however he kept training and decided to fight for his father after speaking with his family.
The eight-rounder shouldn’t be much more than a marking-time fight designed to keep him active ahead of a summer date with fellow Hull resident Tommy Coyle.
Campbell likes the thought of the fight with Coyle.
“I think it would be great for the City,” said Campbell. “There’s a lot of boxing fans out there who want to see it. He’s had more experience than me and been a pro a lot longer and Tommy’s ranked No. 3 in Britain, so it’s a fight upwards and it’s a fight I’m confident of taking.”
Why he’s a prospect: Much like Paul Newman, Campbell lives up to his “Cool Hand Luke” moniker. The 27-year-old is poised under pressure, doubtlessly coming from his vast amateur pedigree.
He is the most decorated British amateur boxer ever: he won gold at the 2012 Olympics and silver at the 2011 World Championships, won the 2008 European Championships as well as ABA titles in 2007 and 2008.
“I had some great times,” he said of the unpaid ranks. “When I was on form there was no one beating me.”
That said, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Campbell. During his amateur days he was injured and had to fight through adversity to get to where he wanted to be.
“I bust my hand in a training camp in Kazakhstan,” he said. “For two years I had a really tough time. In that time it showed me who I am and what I want. It made me stronger to come on. It wasn’t all winning medals. I had a few defeats and I came on stronger.”
During his amateur days, Campbell beat a slew of top fighters. He bested John Joe Nevin two out of three fights. He owns wins over Detelin Dalakliev and Albert Selimov. He also boasts wins over rising junior featherweight Rey Vargas and current WBC junior bantamweight titlist Carlos Cuadras, who he dropped in their 2004 contest.
As a pro, the tall southpaw has high-class sparring with the likes of Ricky Burns and Kevin Mitchell.
When asked of his strengths Campbell points to several areas of his craft.
“[I’m] technical, I’ve got speed, power,” he said. “I like to think I’m a smart fighter, I’m a good counterpuncher, I’ve got good footwork.”
Why he’s a suspect: Campbell has looked highly impressive throughout his first nine fights as a pro. The competition will be stepped up from here on and we can expect to see him tested a little more in 2015.
His amateur career took place at 123 pounds. Since turning pro, Campbell has bulked up and now campaigns at 135. Though it’s a sizable jump in weight, it’s come naturally.
“I struggled to make the weight as an amateur, I had to be very disciplined.” he said. “After the Olympics, I had 11 months out of the sport and I didn’t train, I just relaxed. I didn’t pig out, just naturally eating and my body needed it. I never used to eat carbs as an amateur. I look a lot more healthy now and I’ve brought the power up with me to lightweight and I feel good, I do the weight comfortably.”
While Campbell is not old, he’s certainly not in his early 20’s and as such can be fast-tracked, with his amateur background.
“Whoever my team tell me I’m fighting, I’m fighting,” he said. “As a fighter myself I do want to be in winning these titles.
“I won’t be getting fast-tracked because of my age because I’m still a very young 27. I’m a real late maturer. But I can get fast-tracked because of my talent for sure.”
Story lines: At 13, Campbell became interested in boxing. He also played rugby. He followed his father’s advice and instead of splitting his time between the two sports, he focused on one, choosing boxing.
Campbell comes from a working-class background, witnessing his parents doing their best and the family has inspired him.
Following his Olympic success Campbell was awarded the highly prestigious MBE (“Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”) by the Queen.
“It was a real honor,” said a modest Campbell. “I never even thought of getting an award like that. That title lives with you for the rest of your life. It’s a great achievement.”
He caught the British general public’s attention when he took part in “Dancing on Ice” (celebrities paired in competition with professional ice skaters) prior to turning pro. He and his partner came in third place.
“The exposure was fantastic, letting the country know who I am and what I’m doing,” said Campbell. “It was something different, a nice experience.”
Campbell lists his boxing heroes as Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jr.: “Today I love watching Floyd Mayweather. I think (Guillermo) Rigondeaux is my all-time favorite … to see the skill and everything he’s got.”
He doesn’t have a primary objective other than to be the best he can be.
“I’ve turned pro to challenge myself, to see how far I can go,” he said. “It’s a very tough sport but if I work hard and dedicate myself to it I can go right to the top.”
He resides in Humberside with his girlfriend and two children.
Fight-by-fight record (reverse chronology)
Oct. 25 – Daniel Brizuela – TKO 5
Sept. 20 – Krzysztof Szot – TKO 7
Aug. 16 – Steve Trumble – KO 2
July 12 – Craig Woodruff – W 6
Feb. 22 – Scott Moises – TKO 8
Nov. 23 – Chuck Jones – W 4
Nov. 2 – Neil Connelly – TKO 5
Oct. 5 – Neil Hepper – TKO 1
July 13 – Andy Harris – TKO 1