By Mark Eisner: Luke Campbell may be catching Vasiliy Lomachenko at the right time in his career with him beginning to suffer nagging injuries in recent fights. Lomachenko (13-1, 10 KOs) has suffered hand and shoulder problems lately, and it could be a sign of age beginning to creep in for the 31-year-old. Lomachenko broke a knuckle in his last fight in stopping Anthony Crolla last April. Campbell will need to take advantage of the situation if Lomachenko shows signs of an injured limb along the way.
Lomachenko a heavy favorite to win on Saturday
Campbell (20-2, 16 KOs) will be a big underdog against Lomachenko this Saturday when they fight for the vacant WBC lightweight title at the O2 Arena in London, UK. The match will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office, and on ESPN+.
Last year, Lomachenko hurt his shoulder in his fight with Jorge Linares. Loma still won the fight by a 10th round knockout, but he tasted the canvas and looked vulnerable. In Lomachenko’s next fight against Jose Pedraza, he got hit a lot, and came out of it with a bruised and reddened face. Lomachenko got the win, but he looked like the loser with his face badly marked up.
Groves says Campbell fighting Lomachenko at a great time
“This is a great time to box Lomachenko. He has had a few injuries – he broke his knuckle in his last fight and that was not very long ago,” said George Groves to skysports.com.
WBA/WBO lightweight champion Lomachenko rarely loads up on his punches, and that makes it easier for him to fight through an injury than other fighters. The chances are that if Lomachenko blows out one of his shoulders or suffers a hand injury, he’ll lighten up with his shots, and focus on volume punching. It’ll be up to 2012 Olympic gold medalist Campbell to take advantage of that by sitting down on his shots to hurt Loma.
This is probably the hardest puncher Lomachenko will have faced since his loss to Orlando Salido in 2014. Campbell might even have more power than Salido, but he doesn’t throw body punches. Those are the type of shots that Lomachenko has had problems with. Since his loss to Salido, Lomachenko’s management has put him in with exclusively head hunters that don’t go to the body, and he’s done well in winning his last 12 fights in a row.
Lomachenko there to be beaten if injured says Froch
“A hand, not so bad, you strap it up, but if you compound the shoulder injury with the hand niggle, and if he’s not on par against a bigger Luke Campbell, there is definitely a formula for Luke Campbell to do the job,” said former super middleweight champion Carl Froch to skysports.com.
Campbell sparring three fighters at once in training
“It was down to the WBC for me to fight for the vacant title, and it happened to be Lomachenko,” said Campbell to Behind the Gloves. “It is what it is. I was happy with that, but I’ve never shied away from a fight, and I’m willing to fight the best. It effects nothing,” said Campbell when asked what his reaction is to being the underdog. “How can you not be the underdog against Lomachenko? He’s ranked #1 pound-for-pound in the world, and he’s a three belt world champion. You’re not going to be an underdog against Lomachenko. I’m going in there to be the best I can be.
Me and Lomachenko are two completely different people. I guess we’ll see on Saturday. There’s no particular game plan that I can tell you right now and say, ‘This is how you beat him,’ because it doesn’t exist. It’s about going in there, and reacting to what’s in front of you. It’s doing your best, and fighting as hard as you can. We’ve been sparring three guys. Shane [McGuigan] will go and change signals. I’ll be sparring, and Shane will change signals, and then they’ll be throwing shots from me from different angles. Other than sparring three guys at once, I’ve been doing the same thing [in training],” said Campbell.
Trainer Shane McGuigan’s use of three sparring partners at once with Campbell sounds like a crazy idea, but it might help him. Lomachenko is seemingly everywhere at once inside the ring with the way he changes angles, and throws punches in bunches. Campbell won’t be in shock when he gets in there with him on Saturday, thanks to the training by McGuigan. That doesn’t mean Campbell will win, but he’s definitely will be fully prepared for Lomachenko’s style.
Luke Campbell hasn’t watched video of Lomachenko during camp
“I’ve had a great training camp. I’ve had some quality sparring, and some quality work being done,” said Campbell to Sky Sports News. “So we’re ready. Obviously in the past I’ve seen a few of his fights, but I haven’t seen any footage of him during this camp. Shane does all that type of stuff anyhow. He’ll look at that, tell me what to do, and I’ll follow instructions. I believe that my career is going strength to strength with Shane. I feel like I’m in a great now, and everything is working. I’ve got a solid team around me, and I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I enjoy working with Shane,” said Campbell.
It doesn’t matter whether Campbell has watched video of Lomachenko or not, because he’s going to need to deal with the frenetic pace he sets and odd angles. Watching Lomachenko on video might be demoralizing in some respects for Campbell, because he would he would know what he’s up against. You can bet that Lomachenko has studied Campbell’s fights. That’s the way Loma is. He researches his opponents, finds their weaknesses, and trains to exploit that. He’s not going to wait until he gets inside the ring to figure Campbell out. He’ll have done that already.
Lomachenko will try and showboat and force a stoppage
Campbell must stay mentally strong on Saturday, because Lomachenko will showboat for the first four or five rounds in playing to the crowd before getting serious. As long as Campbell ignores that, and focuses on catching Lomachenko with big shots, he’ll increase his chances of winning.