When a big fight rolls around, BBB can’t help but become absorbed. Vasiliy Lomachenko venturing to our shores to defend his WBO, WBA and WBC titles against Luke Campbell is just such an occasion. Does Campbell stand a chance? Can we make a case for the upset? Read on to find out BBB’s prediction and have a go yourself here.
Vasiliy “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko
Pro debut: 2013
Record: 13 wins (10 KOs) 1 loss (0 KOS)
Significant titles: WBO Featherweight, WBO Super-Featherweight
Biggest wins: Gary Russell Jr 2014 (UD), Nicholas Walters 2016 (TKO 7), Guillermo Rigondeaux 2017 (TKO 6), Jorge Linares 2018 (TKO 10)
Losses: Orlando Salido 2014 (SD)
“Cool Hand” Luke Campbell
Pro debut: 2013
Record: 20 wins (16 KOs) 2 losses (0 KOs)
Significant titles: Commonwealth Lightweight
Biggest wins: Gary Sykes 2016 (TKO 2), Derry Matthews 2016 (TKO 4), Darleys Perez 2017 (TKO 9), Yvan Mendy 2018 (UD)
Losses: Yvan Mendy 2015 (SD), Jorge Linares 2017 (SD)
Neither man is particularly known for their one punch power, preferring to use their speed and skills (more to come on those attributes later) to bamboozle and batter their opponents. That said, the hardest punches are often those you don’t see. That adage would go some way to explaining the combined 24 early wins from 30 bouts for the pair. They obviously carry enough pop to drop, and finish, when the opportunity arises.
Campbell in particular, has left many rivals writhing in agony courtesy of sharp left hands to the body so expect him to target Loma’s mid-section when he manages to get in close. As Anthony Crolla will undoubtedly testify though, give the Ukranian a chance to unload and he can be devastating. Many (most) predicted that Lomachenko would dismantle the Manc but few guessed it would be so brutal. It was a true highlight reel knockout, which shows the Ukranian does possess substantial punch power.
Verdict: Perhaps not as widely as first expected, the first category is going to Lomachenko. Campbell can count himself unlucky not to at least draw this one though.
Back when Lomachenko battled Jorge Linares (the one common opponent he shares with Campbell), BBB noted that “Lomachenko would win this category against anyone on the planet.” Spoiler alert ahead! His exceptional footwork allows him to glide into range subtly before unloading his punches inbunches. Then it is down to his hand-speed and variety in shots to do the damage. He is near impossible to pin down and the only man to do so as a pro (Orlando Salido) did so with brute force and aggression. That is not Luke Campbell’s game.
To dismiss the skills of Campbell would be foolish however. The Hull man won Olympic Gold in 2012 at bantamweight so will rightly trust his own technical ability on Saturday night. His problem is that Lomachenko also won Gold in London, as well as 4 years prior in Beijing. It is difficult to see Loma being outboxed over 12 rounds but I do anticipate Campbell having pockets of joy and frustrating the unified champion if he is able to get into his own rhythm.
Verdict: This will come as a shock to absolutely no one that Lomachenko holds the edge in skills, although it may not be as significant as many imagine.
As noted in the previous category, both men are Olympic Gold medallists so will have seen it all as amateurs. As professionals however there is a stark difference in the levels at which they’ve operated. Despite having fewer pro fights, Lomachenko has operated at a significantly higher level than his British foe, boxing for a World title in only his second paid bout.
Campbell’s career has been peculiar to date. He has swapped between trainers several times over 22 fights and suffered from family issues outside of the ring. Inside the ring, he has struggled to maintain a consistent run of form, showing vulnerabilities when being dropped and occasionally struggling against supposed lesser opposition. He has also shown his undoubted class at times, outclassing local rival Tommy Coyle and winning the Commonwealth title with ease, against Gary Sykes in 2 rounds.
The best name on Campbell’s record is undoubtedly Jorge Linares, the name he shares with Saturday night’s opponent. The difference is that while Campbell bravely, and correctly, lost a close decision to the Venezuelan, Lomachenko dispatched him inside 10 rounds. Although the outcomes were ultimately different, Campbell will almost certainly take heart from the fact both he and Loma were dropped by Linares and both responded well down the stretch. Psychologicaly at least, Campbell can justifiably compare himself to Loma, which may boost his confidence ahead of Saturday night.
Verdict: Again, there isn’t too much in this but Lomachenko takes it overall.
Wear and Tear
Both men have exceptional amateur pedigree and with longevity often comes degradation. Neither of these two have really endured any career shortening battles or beatings though. For a 30 and 31 year old to meet for 3 world titles, it seems bizarre that they have only boxed a total of 36 bouts between them.
Campbell did admittedly struggle first time around against durable Frenchman Yvan Mendy and was lucky to escape with a split decision loss. Since this loss was avenged, and Campbell has picked up several regional titles after losing his 0, it is impossible to claim the tough twelve rounder has had too much of an impact on his physical condition.
Aside from his sole professional loss, Lomachenko has had thing largely his own way. This means neither man is particularly shopworn going into the contest this weekend.
Verdict: Lomachenko will enter Saturday’s contest as a heavy favourite but this won’t be down to freshness. Even.
Although Luke Cambell won his Olympic Gold medal at a lower weight class than Lomachenko, he has campaigned exclusively at 135lbs. Lomachenko on the other hand has moved up through the weights from Featherweight and Super-Featherweight before seemingly settling at Lightweight. Looking at Campbell now, it is hard to see him as anything other than a fully fledged lightweight. He will enter the ring this weekend as the taller man with a significant (5 ½ “) reach advantage. Just how significant this will actually be, is up for debate.
Campbell won’t be expecting to win this based on his size alone, although along with his skills it may play a part. He certainly won’t be utilising his advantages like Salido did, trying to maul and smother Lomachenko. He will look to combine them with his speed and boxing ability to keep Lomachenko at bay. Something he will get joy from, at least in spots.
Where Loma excels physically is in his speed. This blurs almost seamlessly with his skillset but there is unquestionably a physical quality there too. The fact that he is shorter and concedes reach to Campbell won’t bother him in the slightest and he will be more than ready (and able) to overcome these disadvantages. In Campbell’s defence, he may be one of the only lightweights in the world who will fancy his chances of matching Lomachenko for pure speed, which only adds to the intrigue as we approach fight night.
Verdict: Campbell will rightfully be confident of utilising his reach and own speed but Lomachenko may prove more than a match. Even.
Official BBB Prediction
Many will be surprised that so many of the categories have been called “Even”. This isn’t however, some British bias. Luke Campbell isn’t a million miles away from Lomachenko in any of the attributes discussed. The issue Campbell faces is that Lomachenko holds the advantage in the intangible qualities of boxing. His reading of the ring and ability to manipulate opponents is second to none. He has shown a variety of ways to win, against top level boxers, and Campbell will have to be on top of his game to even make this competitive. Obviously, his preparation will be key in how successful he is but in working with Shane McGuigan, and training alongside IBF Super-Lightweight champion Josh Taylor, he could hardly have had better groundwork.
As hinted at, it would be surprising to see Campbell look to “put it on” Lomachenko and go against everything we’ve seen from him so far as a pro. So with that in mind, expect to see Campbell darting in and out, trying to showcase his own speed and movement. Looking to offset Lomachenko and keep him guessing. If he can do this early, and build on his momentum, the Brit could cement a lead on the cards and make this more competitive than a lot expect.
This will obviously be easier said than done. None have managed to beat Loma at his own game, and rest assured boxing is his game. He may use compatriot, Oleksandr Usyk, as inspiration for this performance. Cruiserweight Usyk, seemingly took the first couple of rounds off against Tony Bellew, assessing his output and calculating gaps to exploit. So don’t get carried away if Loma’s initial output is minimal and the British commentary team start gushing. This is scheduled for 12 rounds and that could make it a long night for Campbell. 36 minutes is a long time to out-think and outmanoeuvre someone of Lomachenko’s calibre.
With that in mind, I just don’t see anyone (even someone as talented as Luke Campbell) outboxing Vasiliy Lomachenko over 12 rounds. I do think Campbell is good enough, and tough enough, to last the distance. He may have to survive some scary moments and even pick himself up from the canvas to do so but he can also pose his own problems. Yet Lomachenko will show his class to win a Unanimous Decision over the Brit. It won’t be surprising to see a lot of close rounds with Lomachenko just doing enough to edge them, which may provide wide scorecards that don’t necessarily tell the whole tale.