Lomachenko V Campbell: Contrasting Career Paths Of Gold Medallists
On August 31, Britain’s Luke Campbell (20-2, 16 KOs) will attempt to overcome perhaps the toughest challenge in boxing when he contests pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs) in London.
At the O2 Arena the Hull-born fighter is seeking to become a world champion at the second time of asking, as he battles Ukrainian ace Lomachenko for his unified lightweight straps.
‘Loma’ currently boasts the WBA, WBO and Ring Magazine belts, while the vacant WBC title will also be on the line in this clash in the English capital, making the eventual victor the dominant force in the 135lbs division.
Richard Commey is the present IBF title holder and an undisputed match-up could be on the cards down the line, with Lomachenko having previously outlined his desire of holding all the marbles.
But he must first overcome the threat posed by Yorkshireman Campbell on his first ring outing in the UK as a professional, for a bout that he is an overwhelming favourite to win.
Both of these imminent foes have one impressive feat in common: they earned Gold medals at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. ‘Loma’ prevailed in the lightweight division, adding to his 2008 Gold, while Campbell triumphed at bantamweight that same summer.
The pair’s respective careers have taken widely contrasting paths since sharing success in London seven years ago, having both made their debuts in the paid ranks just months apart in 2013 too.
As the two now prepare to clash for lightweight supremacy in the same city as their Gold victories, here’s how their careers have so far played out until this point.
Lomachenko left the amateurs behind with a remarkable reported record of 396-1 (only loss was avenged) and immediately set his sights on a professional world title on his debut in 2013.
This expectedly was not allowed to occur, but he was given the chance to beat the record for fastest world champion in history by claiming the honours in his second pro outing. But the Ukrainian suffered a controversial points loss to crafty veteran Orlando Salido, who came in overweight and used roughhouse tactics throughout proceedings.
‘Loma’ instead tied the record by winning a world title in his third bout (alongside Thailand’s Saensak Muangsurin) by outpointing American Gary Russell Jr in a superb performance, considering how little experience he had as a pro.
After clinching the WBO featherweight strap he went on to defend it three times before moving up divisions and subsequently becoming the quickest two-weight champion ever as well by knocking out Roman Martinez.
The Ukrainian wizard then went on a dazzling run, forcing four straight opponents to retire prematurely from their fights, including Nicholas Walters, Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and Guillermo Rigondeaux, earning himself the nickname ‘NoMasChenko’.
Next up was a highly impressive stoppage success over Jorge Linares, claiming a lightweight title in the process. In doing so he then became the fastest fighter ever to win titles in three weight classes inside 12 bouts, shattering the previous record of 20.
A tougher points victory over Jose Pedraza and a comfortable KO of Manchester’s Anthony Crolla followed, setting up Lomachenko’s next showdown with another Briton in Luke Campbell.
On August 31 he’ll aim to continue his swift ascent towards greatness and prove again why he’s regarded as the best fighter on the planet in front of a London audience.
Hull-native Campbell admitted this is a huge task that lies ahead of him but stated he’d “never shy away” from such a great challenge.
The obstacle that awaits him this summer is maybe the Mount Everest of battles in the sport, with Lomachenko looking on a different level to anyone around his own weight since finding his feet as a pro.
While the Ukrainian maestro has reached astronomical heights in such a short space of time, Campbell’s career trajectory has followed a more rocky road.
The now 31-year-old southpaw racked up 12 consecutive victories before a surprise maiden loss at the hands of Yvan Mendy in 2015. But he recovered with a further five wins to set himself up for a crack at world honours in his 19th outing.
Former world champion Darleys Perez was the pick of those successes ahead of contesting stylish Venezuelan Linares for his then WBA lightweight crown.
Campbell was dropped early on in that bid to become a champion himself, touching the canvas in the second round, and eventually tasted a split decision loss on American soil to set him back even further.
‘Coolhand’ has bounced back by reeling off three successive wins since that latest defeat, including avenging his first setback to Frenchman Mendy, setting up a second shot at silverware. Though this time it’s the mercurial Lomachenko standing in his way.
So, can Campbell pull off a truly monumental upset in the capital? Not likely, unfortunately for the Yorkshireman and his home supporters.
Lomachenko is a once-in-a-generation talent and this will likely be his latest showcase and one that will help boost his profile even further in front of a British audience and live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Following on from handing Crolla a devastating defeat in California last April, the consensus pound-for-pound number one looks set to tame another British challenger in style at the O2 Arena on August 31.
About The Author
Lee Gormley is a sports journalist who primarily covers boxing for a range of top media outlets.
He can be followed on Twitter @LeeGormley.