London Calling

Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom

The UK has been the axis on which the whole boxing world has spun for the last three to four years. It helped that they had one of the most marketable heavyweights in recent memory. However many UK fighters have left for American promoters and the advent of streaming services like DAZN & ESPN+ have created a flux in boxing viewership worldwide that has yet to shake out. 

That being said, there is still no better fight atmosphere than the one created at UK venues. The fans are arguably the most educated in the world (alongside Mexicans) they are rabid & passionate & most of all they understand greatness when they see it.

So it was a natural fit than to have the title unification bout between Vasyl Lomachenko & Luke Campbell take place in the birthplace of boxing London, UK! All week leading up to the bout the “big fight feel” was about & Lomachenko in particular held court! 

At York Hall, a famous and popular event space on Wednesday afternoon it was standing room only while Loma entertained the crowd with an open workout, while Sky Sports cameras followed the normally subdued Mr Campbell for every meal & fart.

Finally, though, the inevitability of history and fight night arrived. Luke strolled to the ring looking typically serene. Loma walked out in a huge custom leather robe in the colours of the Ukrainian flag to the titular theme of The Matrix franchise of movies - a nice touch - when that music hit the crowd at the O2 Arena exploded!

Loma lost the first round on activity, Luke looked every bit the man sporting 3-4 inch height advantage & working behind that long stick of a jab Loma was forced to play coy & defensive. I commented on twitter that that may have been the first opening-round I have ever seen Loma flatly lose. 

One narrative that emerged in the waning days before Lomachenko v. Campbell was propagated by Orlando Salido, the man who handed Loma his one & only pro loss, a loss freighted with no small amount of controversy, Salido said the way to beat Loma is pressure & rough housing - well, Luke Campbell is not that guy he’s a rather classic example of a British amateur boxer; he’s straight up & down - in & out. However, Campbell kept the pace high in the second round - a wise decision, he maintained a pawing jab and did not sit still in front of Loma, Luke landed a hard looping left that seemed to stun the Ukranian who backed up into the ropes but danced away and held on, Luke landed the best punch of the round but it was otherwise competitive & too close to call for me personally. 

Round three was explosive! One of the best rounds of the fight & due largely to the fact that Luke would not be intimidated by Loma’s mystique as so many others had been, Campbell would not cede ground easily, Loma ate an uppercut flush but Loma snapped Luke’s head back after changing levels sending a spear-like power jab through the guard, Loma was getting through to Luke’s body as well. 

I gave all the middle rounds to Loma as well, he was finding his range & surprisingly walking through the majority of Luke’s punches! According to Compubox from round 4-8 Loma out-landed Luke across the board; Loma out jabbed the bigger, longer fighter & out landed him in total punches thrown & power punches as well. Late in the fifth round Loma finally broke through, he caught Campbell coming in with a short left hand on the point of the chin that rocked him, Luke stumbled back into the ropes & Loma pounced unloading on the Londoner’s body, Luke seemed on the verge of being stopped & was arguably saved by the bell. 

Rounds nine and ten, Loma reduced his work rate, comfortably ahead he was saving his gas tank for the championship rounds. Luke was showing signs of wilting, the “technical pressure” as Timothy Bradley put it was getting to Luke, when you fight Loma before you even have to worry about his fists, you have to worry about his feet, constantly moving, constantly pressuring his opponent, faking & feinting every threat could be a credible one & must be addressed, he can exhaust your mind as well as your body. I have described Lomachenko as Duran 2.0. The great Roberto Duran is arguably the best pressure fighter in history, considered an all-time great at 135 pounds as well, if I had a time machine I’d bring Loma back with me to fight Roberto Duran - but I digress.

In round 11 the crack that formed in Campbell’s resolve gaped & yawned, just like Linares & just like Pedraza, Campbell was knocked down from a body shot found late in the fight, if there was any doubt who had won the bout Loma scored a brace with a 10-8 in the 11th removing all doubt. The 12th round was academic as Luke stayed in survival mode causing the Champ to walk in circles around the centre ring mid-way through with his hands down suggesting they were both wasting each other’s time.

The Post Mortem

I scored the bout 118-110 for Loma. The judges saw the bout even wider than I did tipping Loma 119-108 twice & the third scoring it 118-109. 

I feel for Luke, he’s all heart and made the fight great because he would not be intimidated, he made it far more competitive than I thought it would be, I didn’t see Luke surviving past round 8 & I’m glad I was wrong since it ended up being far more entertaining than it would have been otherwise. Further, tough luck for Campbell who has come against a prime Jorge Linares & prime Vasyl Lomachenko in his two title shots thus far.

As to Lomachenko it bears repeating that we are witnessing greatness, Lomachenko is the best fighter I have seen with my own two eyes. I was not yet born when Ali shook up the world & still in diapers when Ray Leonard & Duran were in their prime. What about Floyd you ask? What about him? 

Name me another fighter who has won two Olympic Gold Medals, three titles in three weight classes faster than any other fighter before him, beaten two Olympic Gold Medalists himself (Rigondeaux & Campbell) & claimed the 3rd title in three straight fights at a new weight. 

What Loma is doing is without precedent, he will hit a wall at some point, he’s 31 and has suffered two injuries in two of his last three bouts, along with a near lifetime of amateur boxing already under his belt we have 3-5 years max before someone gets to him, someone younger, someone too big for him - I think Loma’s ceiling is absolutely at 135 pounds -  he will lose again, possibly even get stopped.

However, right now I would suggest to the faithful to simply enjoy what we have now because quite simply Vasyl Lomachenko is the best fighter of this generation.

4 min