By Jake Donovan
While it’s no secret that Vasiliy Lomachenko and Luke Campbell will eventually collide, the specifics on where and when still remain very much up in the air.
Contrary to the rumors of a done deal, talks remain ongoing for a three-belt lightweight clash between the pair of Olympic Gold medalists. The general terms are well established and a strong indication of the fight eventually transitioning from continued discussion to signed and sealed.
“We’ve worked before with Eddie (Hearn, Campbell’s promoter) and Matchroom with Loma and (Anthony) Crolla,” Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com and other reporters on hand for the May 25 ESPN telecast in Kissimmee, Fla. “We were able to get a deal together for Loma and Luke Campbell to fight later this summer.”
The fight remains on track to take place in late August, with the assumption that ESPN will televise live from England at a location to be determined. The leading candidate remains KCOM Stadium in Campbell’s Hull hometown. The venue seats more than 25,000 for football and rugby events for its main tenants, Hull City Athletic Football Club for football and Hull Football Club for rugby.
An event such as Lomachenko-Campbell can play to more than 30,000 as seating expands to the floor level.
Lomachenko (13-1, 10KOs) hasn’t fought in England since winning his second Olympic Gold medal, which came while representing Ukraine in the 2012 London Olympics.
The same games saw Campbell (20-2, 16KOs) also capture Gold, with the two boxers competing one weight division apart. Campbell claimed top honors at bantamweight, while Lomachenko ran the tables at lightweight after having won a Gold medal as a featherweight along with the Val Barker Trophy as most outstanding boxer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Campbell has spent all but three pro bouts in his native England, while also fighting thrice in the United States including his last ring appearance. The top-rated lightweight contender scored a 5th round knockout of Adrian Yung in a stay-busy fight this past March in Philadelphia, Penn. while waiting for his mandatory challenger status to be enforced by the World Boxing Council (WBC).
It finally came this past April, by which point Mikey Garcia had relinquished the WBC 135-pound title after deciding he wasn’t ready to return to the weight division. In an unconventional move, the sanctioning body approved a request by Lomachenko—who holds the WBA and WBO titles—to fight for its vacant belt versus Campbell.
From there, the two sides began negotiations which quickly progressed considering that concessions were granted by each camp. Lomachenko was willing to hit the road, but Top Rank requested in return that they controls the programming rights at least in the U.S.
That puts the fight on an ESPN platform rather than DAZN, for which Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing is the primary content provider. It also puts the fight, though, in a location where it can serve as a much bigger event than if it were stateside.
“Loma has always wanted to fight in the UK,” Arum noted. “They had a great experience there when Loma’s good friend, (undefeated cruiserweight champion) Oleksandr Usyk fought Tony Bellew last year. Of course, it’s also where he won his second Gold medal.”
The entirety of Lomachenko’s pro career has taken place in the U.S., save for his 4th pro bout which was staged in Macao on the Pay-Per-View undercard of Manny Pacquiao’s 12-round win over Chris Algieri. The 31-year old southpaw has won major titles in three weight divisions, accomplishing that feat quicker than anyone in boxing history following his off-the-canvas knockout win over Jorge Linares last May in just his 12th pro fight.
Two defenses have followed, including his adding a title in a 12-round win over Jose Pedraza and a recent 4th round knockout of former titlist Anthony Crolla this past April.
As Top Rank has a co-promotional deal with IBF titlist Richard Commey, the path is clear for Lomachenko’s quest to become undisputed champion.
“We’re grateful the WBC granted the request to allow Loma to face Luke Campbell for (its) title and the chance to own three of the four lightweight titles,” acknowledged Arum, whose Top Rank company—through ESPN—has established a series of lightweight bouts that should lead to a single divisional king. “It’s important for Loma to become the undisputed champion, which becomes my responsibility to put him… in position to make that happen.
“That means putting together deals with promoters like Matchroom and all others.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox