Vasiliy Lomachenko Looking to Claim Third Title Against Luke Campbell
Pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko will defend his lightweight titles and fight for a third this weekend against contender Luke Campbell in London.
Updated: Aug. 28, 2019 • 9:27 PM ET
Vasiliy Lomachenko will attempt to win another title this weekend.
One of boxing’s pound-for-pound kings will return to the ring this Saturday, as WBA and WBO lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko will defend the belts against hungry British contender Luke Campbell at the O2 Arena in London. The vacant WBC lightweight title will also be on the line.
Coming off a fourth-round knockout of Anthony Crolla in April, Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs) will attempt to defend the lightweight belts for a third time. He won the WBA belt with a 10th-round TKO of Jorge Linares in May 2018 and the WBO belt with a unanimous decision victory over Jose Pedraza in December.
The 31-year-old Ukrainian fighter holds several boxing records, including winning a major world championship with the fewest professional fights (3) and becoming a three-weight champion in his 12th fight. Lomachenko previously held the WBO featherweight and super featherweight titles between 2014 and the end of 2017, and the choice to move up in weight seemed natural for the champion.
“When I fought in my natural weight classes it was easy for me,” Lomachenko said via Fox Sports Australia. “I didn’t have a problem. When I stepped up to the next weight class, it isn’t my natural weight.
“Guys are bigger than me, they have a bigger reach, they are [taller]. It is harder. I don’t think about knockouts. I just get in the ring and do my boxing. If I can, I will take it.”
Lomachenko won back-to-back gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, while amassing a 396-1 amateur record. Naturally, he has his sights set on being an all-time great.
“I can’t speak English easily, so I can’t open my personality in English,” he said. “I can’t be a superstar, but I can be the best boxer in history — this is my goal.”
Meanwhile, Campbell (20-2, 16 KOs) has been on a mission since losing a razor-thin split-decision to Jorge Linares for the WBA and WBC belts in 2017. He has won three straight fights, last defeating Adrian Yung by fifth-round TKO in March. The 31-year-old Campbell is confident heading into a bout with a fighter everyone thinks will defeat him.
"I'm in a tough division and I want to show I'm the best in it," Campbell recently told ESPN. "I don't want to be in an easy division, I don't want to be a champion that no one knows. Why would I want to be fighting someone no one has heard of for the world title?
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"I don't want to be a world champion that no one gives a f--- about, and there are loads of them about. Everyone will know my name once I win this fight, mark my words."
Campbell also won gold at the 2012 Olympics and believes he has fought at a championship level for years.
"Fighting Linares, I showed that I belong at this level and that was with so much going wrong for me going into the ring [Campbell's father died two weeks before the fight] and I still went in there and nearly won the fight," Campbell said. "That was my mental strength that got me through it, and I thought I beat Linares by two clear rounds.
"Currently, I'm facing the best of this era [in Lomachenko], but we will have to see after we have fought if that's still the same. I'm proud that I'm fighting the pound-for-pound No. 1 — it gives me a chance to rattle the cage and see what I can do. To be the best I have to beat the best, and I've always strived to do that."
Campbell is two inches taller than Lomachenko and will have a five-inch reach advantage, but it remains to be seen if anyone can keep up with Lomachenko’s speed and angles for an entire fight (bar Orlando Salido, Lomachenko’s only loss from 2014). Twenty-nineteen has been the year of upsets and should Campbell pull off a victory this weekend, it would be one of the biggest.
Saturday’s co-main event will be a heavyweight fight between Hughie Fury and Alexander Povetkin.
Fury is riding two straight victories, most recently defeating Samuel Peter by TKO in July. The 24-year-old previously fought former champion Joseph Parker for the WBO title in 2017 and believes a victory over Povetkin can get him closer to competing for a title once again.
“This is all about timing,” Fury said during a July press conference. “I believe now, all these fights have put me in time for this fight here. It’s going to be a spectacle night.
“They showed me the list of fights, and I said I want in. I want to fight the best. I always believed I will be the best. I’m not shying from a fight.”
In his last outing last September, Povetkin lost by TKO to Anthony Joshua, the then WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion. Before that fight, Povetkin was on an eight-fight winning streak after losing a title bid in 2013 against the now retired Wladimir Klitschko.
The 39-year-old Povetkin is the former WBA heavyweight champion and won gold at the 2004 Olympics at super heavyweight. He has notable victories during his career over David Price, Christian Hammer, Carlos Takam, Manuel Charr, Andrzej Wawrzyk, Hasim Rahman, Cedric Boswell and Ruslan Chagaev.
Povetkin is training hard for the younger Fury.
“I don’t like to make any plans before I do my job,” Povetkin recently said via SecondsOut Boxing News. “If it goes successfully, we will discuss next steps. It will be an interesting and exciting fight because Fury is a young and powerful boxer. But one thing I can tell you, I will continue fighting until my eyes are burning or until I have such a wish to retire.”
A second title fight will also be on the card, as WBC flyweight champion Charlie Edwards will defend the belt against Julio Cesar Martinez.
Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs) will defend the belt for the second time after securing a unanimous decision victory over Angel Moreno in March. Fighting at home in the United Kingdom this weekend, the 26-year-old won the belt with a unanimous decision victory over Cristofer Rosales in December.
Meanwhile, Martinez has won 14 straight fights (stopped eight straight opponents) since losing his professional debut by split-decision in 2015. The 24-year-old Mexican knocked out Andrew Selby in March and will head into hostile territory on Saturday having already proven he’s worthy of a title shot.
• How to watch/start time: The main card can be seen on ESPN+ at 1 p.m. ET.