Vasiliy Lomachenko battles Luke Campbell on Aug.31 for vacant WBC lightweight title
By Charles Bruns: Luke Campbell and Vasiliy Lomachenko will be battling for the vacant WBC lightweight crown next month on August 31 at The O2 in London, England. #1 pound-for-pound star Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs) already has the WBA & WBO lightweight belts in his position, but he’s being given the chance by the World Boxing Council to fight for their recently vacated WBC 135 pound title against #1 ranked Campbell (20-2, 16 KOs).
Lomachenko wants to become a star in UK
The talented Lomachenko volunteered to give Campbell the home country advantage by taking the contest to London, England, because he’s hoping to become a big star over there. That’s not going to be easy for Lomachenko to achieve unless he fights in the UK on a regular basis. The major obstacle that will keep Lomachenko from becoming a star in the UK, besides him not fighting there enough, is the lack of opposition at lightweight from that part of the world.
Once Lomachenko destroys Campbell, he’ll have effectively run out of British fighters for him to face in the UK. Top Rank can’t trot out Anthony Crolla again for Lomachenko to beat, because no one would want to see that again. It’s doubtful that Crolla would even enlist for a second helping of pain dished out by Lomachenko.
The only way for Lomachenko to become a star in the UK is if he moves up to 140, and takes on IBF light welterweight champion Josh Taylor in 2020. That would be a good idea except from the fact that Taylor is about to face WBA 140 pound champion Regis Prograis in the final of the World Boxing Super Series tournament before the end of the year. Most fans expect Prograis to make easy work of Taylor.
Lomachenko faces an uphill battle becoming a star in the UK
Lomachenko won’t gain anything in moving up to 140 to beat Taylor with him coming off of a likely knockout loss to Prograis. If Top Rank drags some of the other world champions at 130 or 140 to fight Lomachenko in the UK, some boxing fans might want to see Loma fight. It’s hard to imagine British fans getting excited at seeing Lomachenko face non-homegrown opposition in England though. If Top Rank brings Lomachenko over to the UK to fight light welterweight champion Jose Ramirez, Regis Prograis or Maurice Hooker, would the fans be up for seeing those fights?
Lomachenko can move back down to super featherweight and possibly face British fighter Josh Warrington, if he’s willing to move up in weight from 126 to 130 to fight him. That’s another opponent that Lomachenko won’t get to until he’s already been beat. The talented Shakur Stevenson is already breathing down Warrington’s neck, calling him out for a fight. If Warrington faces Stevenson, he’ll likely lose to him as well. As such, Lomachenko has zero options in the UK for him become a star over there unless he’s good with fighting guys that are coming off of defeats.
Arum envisions UK fans selling out the O2 Arena for Lomachenko vs. Campbell fight
“Vasiliy Lomachenko is a unique talent who is going to take the United Kingdom by storm,” said Lomachenko’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Boxing. “Luke Campbell is an excellent fighter, but Lomachenko is in a class of his own. The fans on that side of the pond have wanted Lomachenko to return ever since he turned pro. It’s going to be a crazy, sold-out crowd at the O2 Arena, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lomachenko has the crowd’s support.”
Lomachenko vs. Campbell will be shown on ESPN & ESPN+ in the United States. The fight will also be shown on Sky Box Office pay-per-view in the UK. Campbell isn’t a big star in the UK. It’s a questionable move on Matchroom Boxing’s part to place the fight on Sky Box Office. Will the casual British fans be excited at seeing Campbell face Lomachenko, who many have never seen before, or will they save their money and pass it up? U.S boxing fans likely won’t be interested in this fight aside from the hardcore enthusiasts. Campbell isn’t a big name in the U.S.
Campbell lost to former Lomachenko victim Linares
The U.S fans remember how Campbell was out-boxed by Jorge Linares in 2017, and how he complained bitterly afterwards in thinking he should have won. For American fans, Campbell clearly lost to Linares. With Linares recently being knocked out by Lomachenko in 2018, it’s difficult to get excited at the prospects of watching Campbell face Loma. If Campbell couldn’t even beat one of Lomachenko’s knockout victims in Linares, how in the world will he beat Loma? The fact is, he probably won’t. Campbell has a puncher’s chance of winning the fight, and he’s not much of a puncher.
It’s a good deal for Lomachenko, 31, and his promoters at Top Rank Boxing, but not such a great deal for Campbell and Devin Haney. Those two should be the ones that are squaring off next month for the vacant WBC lightweight title. The WBC changed things up by WBA/WBO champion Lomachenko to fight for their vacant title after he petitioned to them to ask if he could fight for the belt. 2012 Olympic gold medalist Campbell will receive more attention worldwide for this fight with Lomachenko than he has in all of his previous 22 fights as a pro.
Campbell in the spotlight against Lomachenko
It’s just unfortunate for Campbell that he’s facing arguably the best fighter in boxing today in two-time Olympic gold medalist, because he’s very likely going to be reduced to rubble on the night. Campbell’s fellow countryman Anthony Crolla didn’t fare so well in his recent contest against Lomachenko last April. Lomachenko smashed Crolla to bits in stopping him in the fourth round, and leaving him on the canvas looking badly hurt.
It’s difficult to imagine the 5’9″ southpaw Campbell lasting much longer than Crolla against Lomachenko. It’ll likely depend on what kind of mood Lomachenko is in when he steps inside the ring. If he’s angry, he’ll likely get rid of Campbell in four rounds or less. But if he wants to showboat in front of the boxing world, he’ll string it out, and try and make Campbell quit like many others have.
Lomachenko won’t overlook Campbell
“This is a fight for history because my goal is to unify all of the belts in the lightweight division,” Lomachenko said. “Luke Campbell is the next challenge for me on that journey. He is an excellent fighter who I remember well from the 2012 Olympics. He has a difficult style, and I cannot afford to overlook him,” said Lomachenko.
Lomachenko’s problem is he’s hung up on unifying the lightweight division, which isn’t a popular one worldwide. Even when and if Lomachenko does unify the division, he’ll have gained very little notoriety from the casual boxing fans. Lomachenko has already devoted a year of his career in his pursuit of winning all four lightweight titles to unify the division. In that same time, Lomachenko could have gained much more by fighting Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, Tevin Farmer, Miguel Berchelt, Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez or Maurice Hooker.
Wins over any of those guys would have done a lot more for Lomachenko’s career than his wins over Crolla, Linares and Jose Pedraza. Lomachenko is wasting time aiming for the low hanging fruit instead of the talented opposition that boxing fans worldwide want to see him fight. Guys like Campbell shouldn’t even be on Lomachenko’s list. Loma should leave Campbell for fighters like Devin Haney and Crolla to face.