Luke Campbell and Tommy Coyle ready for collision on Saturday
Both hail from the city of Hull, England, which has a population of approximately 250,000 people, and both swap punches for a living but lightweights Luke Campbell and Tommy Coyle, who collide on home ground this Saturday, have virtually nothing else in common.
Campbell, a brilliant amateur, captured Olympic gold at London 2012 and kicked open the door to a lucrative professional career. Coyle, the blue-collar bruiser, began his own journey in relative anonymity but progressed by virtue of hard work and guts.
Fate has now brought the two men together for the inevitable fight.
“I’m so excited about this one,” said Campbell, who is 11-0 (9 knockouts). “My debut at Craven Park [in Hull] did 7,000 fans and the atmosphere was unreal. We’ve already sold 12,000 tickets for the same venue and everywhere you go in the city there are people talking about this fight.”
Tommy Coyle has known Campbell for years. The pair traveled abroad as amateurs and sparred hundreds of rounds together and although Campbell dismissed that gym time as “irrelevant,” his opponent insists the early reconnaissance was valuable.
“Luke is a fantastic boxer,” said the 25-year-old Coyle. “When we sparred all those years ago, he probably got the better of it eight times out of 10 and I’m not disputing that fact. However, on those other occasions, when it got hard, he choked and I’ve seen him choke against other fighters in the gym.
“I’m a tough old boy and I’m stubborn mentally. I’m the type of guy where you’re going to have to kill me to beat me and I’ve never choked in a fight in my life. Luke was born with bags of talent, and he’s worked exceptionally hard to get to this point, but I believe that pain is an emotion and I’m a different animal from him mentally.”
Campbell has had things his own way since turning professional in July 2013 but that is to be expected during the embryonic stages of any promising young fighter’s career. However, the 27-year-old southpaw does possess a real mean streak which belies his charming exterior outside the ring.
Campbell said, “You need to be spiteful in the professional game. As an amateur you’ve got your tactics and point-scoring to contend with but in the pros you want to hurt people, it’s as simple as that. You’ve got to be strong-minded and ready to do a job.
“This fight with Tommy Coyle is likely to bring out some spite in me because I’ve had a great camp and I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m confident that I can go in there, put on a good show, and demonstrate the difference in levels between us.”
Coyle (21-2, 10 KOs) has taken part in 120 rounds of professional boxing, as opposed to 45 for Campbell, and has been tested on several occasions. Still, when this reporter suggested that his plan would be to take the fight into the later rounds, in order to utilize his experience, he was quick to dismiss that idea and take further swipes at Campbell’s heart and desire.
“The fight might not get to the later rounds because if I connect on his chin then I’ll knock him out,” said Coyle sharply. “Luke is an amazing fighter but he mixes in celebrity circles with the ‘Dancing on Ice’ stuff; he gets the best sponsorship deals and he wears the best clothes. There’s no sparkle in my eyes and I’m in love with the game, not the fame.
“Luke hasn’t ticked any boxes in terms of adversity, whereas I’ve lost and came back stronger. I won’t be going in there guns blazing, throwing bombs, like I have done in the past because Luke will just set traps. I’ll be taking a tactical approach and executing the game plan that [trainers] Jamie Moore and Nigel Travis have come up with.”
Campbell, who spent a few weeks in Miami preparing for Coyle, was blunt and almost bored when asked about his own game plan for the fight. As a character, he’s so personable that it’s difficult to remember that he can fight but this is a man who knows his value, his potential and what is expected of him on Saturday.
He said, “My speed will play a big part in this fight. Tommy Coyle has never boxed anyone as fast as me. Daniel Brizuela, who he’s been with, was pretty quick but I boxed Brizuela and he doesn’t have my speed. I’m not really focused on one area or one attribute. I’m just coming to win and Tommy Coyle is in for a shock.
“I’ll get him out of there. He said that he’ll knock me out but talk is cheap and I’m ready to put my actions into play.”
Coyle, by contrast, is looking for a Hollywood ending and was aghast at oddsmakers, some of whom have installed him as an 8-to-1 underdog in a two-horse race.
“I think it will be like something out of a ‘Rocky’ movie,” he said. “I just can’t see anything other than a Coyle victory because it’s far too early for Luke Campbell. There’s a huge upset on the cards and the bookies are going to lose a lot of money.”
Luke Campbell versus Tommy Coyle is live and exclusive on Sky Sports 1 in the U.K. from 8.00pm.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing