Luke Campbell: ‘My footwork will play a big part in Vasiliy Lomachenko fight’
LONDON – Height and reach. Height and reach. Height and reach.
In terms of what Luke Campbell brings to the table against pound-for-pound No.1 Vasiliy Lomachenko, height and reach have been the two attributes thrown around ad nauseum in the buildup to Saturday’s lightweight championship fight at the O2 Arena in London.
There is, however, so much more to Campbell’s game. He is arguably the greatest amateur to ever come out of the U.K. His boxing I.Q. is of the highest caliber. His hand speed is terrific. He has power in both fists. He is defensively adept. He works the body extremely well. In reality, the majority of Campbell’s qualities are being ignored because Lomachenko is so advanced in all of these areas.
The one thing not to sleep on, however, is Campbell’s footwork. The challenger’s ability to move around the ring, judge distance, create punching angles and step around the target cannot be denied. Again, Lomachenko’s own movement is otherworldly, but the Ukrainian star was made to work against both Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza, two fighters who succeeded in moving with Lomachenko and – at least temporarily – defusing his rhythm.
“I believe that my footwork is really on point at the minute, and I believe that it’s the best it’s ever been in my career,” Campbell told The Ring on Thursday.
“In the last fight I had, against a very tough Mexican guy (Adrian Yung), he didn’t land a shot on my because of my footwork. It wasn’t because I had a tight guard, it was because of my feet. He barely landed a single shot (over five rounds) and I stopped a guy who had never been stopped with single shots. I think my footwork will play a big part in this fight.”
As well as being fleet of foot, Campbell, unlike Linares and Pedraza, is a southpaw. Does a much bigger, mobile lefty ask questions of Lomachenko? We certainly know that a slippery lefty doesn’t. Just ask Guillermo Rigondeaux, who had all of his major organs battered in alphabetical order in December 2017.
Campbell, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring at 135 pounds, also has home advantage, but Lomachenko is not the type to feel pressure in enemy territory.
“No but he’s under pressure to perform,” Matchroom Promoter Eddie Hearn told The Ring. “When you’re put up there on this pedestal as pound-for-pound No. 1, you can’t go in there and look average. Lomachenko’s mentality is ‘I want to go in there and look sensational’. He has zero fear, and I think he wants to put on a show.
“Campbell has got to produce the performance of a lifetime and something’s gotta go wrong (for Lomachenko). Maybe he’s a bit under par, maybe that (injured) shoulder comes back into play, maybe that broken hand isn’t fixed up properly. To beat someone like that, you can’t just go in there, box average and expect to win.
“What you’ve got to ask is, can Luke Campbell win this fight? Yes, 100 percent. Is it the toughest fight out there for Lomachenko in the lightweight division? I think yes. Style-wise, ability-wise, Devon Haney is coming up, but the likes of (IBF titleholder) Richard Commey is made for Lomachenko.”
Will Campbell give Lomachenko all he can handle, or will the unified lightweight champion enjoy another cakewalk? We’ll have the answers on Saturday night.
The bout will be broadcast live on ESPN+ in the U.S. and Sky Box Office in the U.K.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for The Ring. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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