By Keith Idec
Luke Campbell couldn’t pull off Saturday night what would’ve been considered one of the biggest upsets in British boxing history.
He definitely didn’t disgrace himself, either.
Even though Lomachenko decisively defeated Campbell in their 12-round lightweight title fight, Eddie Hearn, Campbell’s promoter, considers this a brand-building performance for the 2012 Olympic gold medalist. A capacity crowd in excess of 18,000 packed O2 Arena in London for the Lomachenko-Campbell match, in which Campbell caught Lomachenko with a left uppercut that made Lomachenko hold him in the seventh round.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KO) quickly recovered and comfortably beat Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) on all three scorecards (119-108, 119-108, 118-109), but Campbell demonstrated toughness throughout their fight for the WBA, WBC and WBO 135-pound crowns. He absorbed a lot of body shots from Lomachenko, survived an 11th-round knockdown and at times landed hard head and shots of his own against one of the best boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport.
The 31-year-old Campbell’s involvement in this type of event also established him as a legitimate draw in England, according to Hearn.
“With all due respect to Luke, his brand going into this fight, this fight was about Lomachenko,” Hearn told BoxingScene.com following their fight. “Yes, he was fighting a Brit. But let’s be honest – Lomachenko was the sell here. Now that’s changed, and Lomachenko’s still the sell. But Luke Campbell has a huge profile now. People are proud of him. You know, Brits love it when you’re getting hit to the body and you’re almost crippled over, and you just stay on your feet. And you go down and you get up and you fight back. All fans love that. And that’s what they saw from Luke Campbell. So, his stock rises considerably.”
Once Campbell recuperates from this grueling fight, Hearn will begin rebuilding him in hopes of landing what would be a third lightweight title shot.
“We’ve gotta now gear him up sort of for a shot at a belt that fragments at some point next year,” Hearn said. “Devin Haney’s in a similar boat, you know? And Lomachenko’s unbeatable. He’s gonna fight the winner of [Richard] Commey against [Teofimo] Lopez. He’s gonna win that fight, and then he’s gonna be undisputed. And then I think he’ll move back down, because he’s not a lightweight, you know?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.