Vasiliy Lomachenko, who is at or right near the top of pretty much any pound-for-pound list in boxing today, returns on Saturday with a main event on ESPN+ against Luke Campbell, a fellow Olympic gold medalist who will have home field at O2 Arena.
Our staffers make their picks for the fight.
I said earlier this week that I think this very much could be a “styles make fights” affair, and I still think that. Campbell is listed at 5’9” and Lomachenko at 5’7”, but someone’s lyin’, as standing them next to each other has revealed there’s a far bigger difference in height than that in Campbell’s favor. Lomachenko is not a natural lightweight, Campbell is. And Campbell, while he was no Lomachenko as an amateur (who was?), was a terrific amateur who won Olympic gold himself.
I think Campbell’s going to give Loma a good test here, I think he’s going to win some rounds ... and then I think Vasiliy’s going to get him. Campbell’s a better fighter than he was in 2015 when he lost to Yvan Mendy, but he also lost to Jorge Linares in 2017, while giving a very good effort. What’s his best actual win, the Mendy rematch? Darleys Perez? He’s a really good fighter. Lomachenko is an excellent fighter. The style matchup will give Campbell a chance, particularly if he can get to the body, but Lomachenko is just better than him and will ultimately prove that. I think we’ll see an even-ish fight for six rounds or so, Loma will start to separate, and then he’ll find Campbell and stop him late. Lomachenko TKO-11
I’ve been looking for reasons all week to pick Campbell to pull off the upset here. I don’t know why but I kind of want him to. He’s not only noticeably bigger than Lomachenko but he also has good technical fundamentals and fights to his strengths, which is something you can’t say for all fighters. And because Campbell is taller with a longer reach to go along with his comfort in boxing off the back foot, I think he he makes things really difficult for Lomachenko, who will have to find a way to close the distance to get in punching range.
Luckily Lomachenko is known for having some of the most fluid footwork in the business, not to mention the boxing IQ to go along with it. I see Campbell making things hard on Lomachenko and winning more rounds from him than most expect. That said, I do think that Lomachenko will eventually find a rhythm by the mid-point of the fight that Campbell’s going to have difficulty keeping pace with, even if Campbell is a game fighter. So if Campbell can’t dictate the pace for the duration, which I’m sort of doubting, I see him having to dig deep to make it to the final bell in what will ultimately be a losing effort on the cards. Lomachenko UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
Luke Campbell is a very good fighter. He’s got pop, rips the body well, is plenty fun to watch, and has significant height and reach advantages over Lomachenko. Thing is, nothing but Orlando Salido-level bastardry seems to be enough against Lomachenko, and I’m not sure even that works anymore. There’s a sense, perhaps an inaccurate one, that Lomachenko’s absurd skill can get him past anything.
Campbell’s size and power aren’t enough to overrule that sense.
Barry McGuigan had it right: Campbell needs to hurt Lomachenko enough to disrupt Lomachenko’s movement and precise offense. I just don’t think he can corral “Hi-Tech” consistently enough to do it. It’ll be Lomachenko’s toughest fight to date, but the Ukrainian’s technical wizardry nets him a 7-5ish decision. Lomachenko UD-12
There’s a certain harsh reality facing Luke Campbell this weekend. Great Britain’s greatest amateur boxer arrives at London’s O2 awaiting a fight to become the unified lightweight champion of the world — still, you could argue that “Cool Hand” has never been further away from such accolades. Lomachenko is the greatest puzzle in boxing. “Hi-Tech’s” ability to cut off the ring with subtle ease, allowing seamless combinations to flow with pinpoint precision have underpinned his position as the majority of onlookers’ No. 1 pound-for-pound star. In his quest to become undisputed at 135 pounds, Loma is far from tripping up in a weight category that he won gold in one of the last times he boxed in London.
The key to success for Campbell is to fight fire with fire. Rolling the dice, engaging in a shootout with the Ukrainian is the only feasible way I can see an upset materialising in the capital this weekend. His reach and height advantage won’t mean anything unless he can find a way to lure Loma into a trade-off after a tentative opening. Albert Selimov and Orlando Salido are the only two men to upset Lomachenko in 411 fights — I can’t see another man adding his name to that list at 140 pounds or under. Lomachenko UD-12