Luke Campbell keeps it light on his way up the lightweight ranks
PHILADELPHIA — Luke Campbell had them going. The 2012 bantamweight Olympic gold medalist was in Miami, Florida, last year and became acquainted with a few folks there. Campbell is a fairly common name, though when it came up in conversation, someone would invariably ask Luke if he was related to 2 Live Crew lead man Luther Campbell, to which Luke replied, “Yeah, he’s my uncle.”
“Good, old Uncle Luther, and I’d tell them a few of his rapping lyrics came from me,” Luke said, laughing. “I had them going. It happened only two or three times, but two or three times is far too much. It was funny looking at their expressions, though.”
Campbell is no joke.
He once downed Teofimo Lopez during a sparring session and, at 5-foot-10, the southpaw from Yorkshire, England, possesses a 71-inch reach and fire in his fists to go along with his dry sense of humor.
On Friday, Campbell (19-2, 15 knockouts) will take on Mexican Adrian Yung (26-5-2, 20 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout on the undercard of IBF world super featherweight titlist Tevin Farmer’s third title defense against Jono Carroll, from Temple University’s Liacouras Center being shown live on DAZN in the U.S. and on Sky Sports in Britain.
Campbell’s two defeats came in a pair of split-decision losses, one against WBA lightweight titlist Jorge Linares, when Campbell was knocked down in the second round and battled back to make it a competitive fight in September 2017, and the other loss came against Yvan Mendy when Campbell recovered from a fifth-round knockdown in December 2015. Campbell later avenged the Mendy loss with a 12-round unanimous decision over the Frenchman last September, on the Anthony Joshua-Alexander Povetkin undercard.
Since the Linares loss, Campbell has won two straight and plans on staying sharp against Yung for another possible title shot later this year.
“Yung is a good technical boxer, with a good record and it looks like he carries a good bit of weight on his shoulders, so for me, it’s a good fight,” Campbell said. “It’s a fight that I have to go out and perform well. I need to stay active and stay busy, so I can be ready for bigger things.
“I want a world title shot. This year is my year. I want to define myself as the best in the division and eventually fight (Vasiliy) Lomachenko. But I have some business to take care of first. It’s one step at a time.”
Shane McGuigan, the 2016 BWAA Trainer of the Year, has been working with Campbell since a year. This will mark the second fight McGuigan has worked with Campbell.
“We were waiting for Mikey Garcia to vacate the IBF and WBC lightweight titles, since he’s obviously moved up to 147 pounds, and it would have been a bit nicer if he vacated earlier,” McGuigan said. “This is a warm-up fight, but we want to make a big show and a big statement against Yung.
“Luke is freak for the weight. He’s massive for a lightweight. He’s 139 right now three days out for this fight coming up. Luke is a lovely guy who’s very easy to work with. He has that Olympic pedigree and he’s sitting down more on his punches. If we were to fight Linares again, I’m very confident we could beat him.
“We’ve changed a lot of things. Luke, I thought, was doing too much sparring. We’re building his strength. But we have options. We could aim for Devin Haney, we could aim for Teofimo Lopez, who Luke has fought before in the gym, and dropped him as well. We’ll sit here patiently waiting and see what happens.
“Luke Campbell is the man at 135, and I think he would give Lomachenko nightmares. But first, we have to take care of business on Friday night.”