Record: 42-3 (27 KO) ... Streak: W11 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'8" / 69" ... Age: 32
Thoughts: Linares was once thought to be a future pound-for-pound contender, a “beautiful boxer,” as the late Emanuel Steward would call him, who had skill and style to spare.
His career hasn’t exactly gone as anticipated. First came a 73-second TKO loss to Juan Carlos Salgado in 2009, and then he lost back-to-back fights to Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson in 2011-12, both by TKO. At that time, it certainly wasn’t expected that five years later, Linares would have fought his way into an HBO main event, but here we are.
That’s because of Linares’ skill, as well as a tough time for HBO where the network just doesn’t have the big fight options it used to have.
Linares doesn’t have the greatest chin in the world, and what’s more is he cuts fairly easily, but few in the world can really match his craft. When he’s at his best, which he has been for the last couple of years, he’s a terrific fighter and great to watch ply his trade.
That said, let’s not go too bananas here — the wins he’s racked up in the last two years have come over Kevin Mitchell, Ivan Cano, and Anthony Crolla (twice), which is hardly Murderer’s Row. And he was losing on the cards to Mitchell when he stopped him in 2015, too.
In all reality, as good as Linares can be, he still lacks a signature win in his career, and his time in the sport has arguably been more a testament to the diluted era. Linares can boast world titles at 126, 130, and 135, but he’s never truly been one of the best in the sport.
Record: 17-1 (14 KO) ... Streak: W5 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'9" / 71" ... Age: 29
Thoughts: Campbell won Olympic gold for Great Britain in 2012, and as such, big things were expected of him after he turned professional in the summer of 2013.
Mostly, he’s lived up to the billing. He rattled off 12 wins before running into veteran Yvan Mendy in December 2015, and Mendy shocked him with a 12-round split decision win, no controversy to speak of other than judge John Keane scored it for Campbell.
At that point, it was worth wondering if Campbell would see his career derailed. Instead, he’s shown great resolve and a tremendous attitude, learning from the mistakes he made in that fight, and bouncing back to defeat Gary Sykes, Argenis Mendez, Derry Mathews, Jairo Lopez, and Darleys Perez in his last five bouts, looking impressive each time.
Campbell, while not old, is older than you might think at 29, so his going after a world title now against a tough opponent in Linares is not that surprising. For one thing, he already has a loss, so he’s not protecting an “0” and neither are his promoters, and for another thing, the bigger thing, he’s probably as ready as he’s going to get. Can he win? Sure. Sergio Thompson and Antonio DeMarco and Juan Carlos Salgado have beaten Linares, after all, and Campbell is probably a more talented fighter than Crolla or Mitchell, too.
Matchup Grade: B. I actually quite like this fight. I think it’s well-matched and good timing for both. As you’ve probably gathered, I think Linares is a bit more vulnerable in this matchup than most seem to believe. Sky Sports commentators have made Linares out to be a world-beating dynamo of peerless ability, but they did so because he beat their home fighters on their soil. Linares has lost before. Campbell has talent. This is a good fight, and one I’m really looking forward to watching.
- Antonio Orozco vs Roberto Ortiz: Ortiz (35-1-2, 26 KO) has a nice looking record on paper, but there’s little behind it. In his one fight against a top opponent, Lucas Matthysse dusted him in two rounds. Orzoco (26-0, 17 KO) has frankly never mightily impressed me as a prospect — I’ve never seen real world-level ability in his performances, and at 29, he’s a bit long in the tooth for a “young prospect” still at this level. That said, he has some solid wins and can fight, I just think there’s a low ceiling for him. Hopefully, we get a good fight here, but this is one that could turn into a wipeout fairly easily, I fear. Matchup Grade: C