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Can ‘Cool Hand’ crack ‘The Matrix’?

On Saturday, August 31, Vasyl Lomachenko’s three lightweight titles (WBA Super, WBO and The Ring) will be on the line, as he faces Brit boxer, Luke Campbell to get one step closer to division supremacy – with the WBC lightweight title also up for grabs.

The two boxers may both be 31-years-old, both turning professional in 2013, with Olympic gold medals to their names and fairly admirable records – but that is where the similarities end. The question everyone is asking is does ‘Cool Hand’ Campbell have what it takes to defeat ‘The Matrix’? At the moment, the answer with the bookies is a resounding no, as in Lomachenko v Campbell odds, you’ll find the Russian at a short 1/16, as opposed to Campbell’s price of 15/2.

Battle of the London 2012 Champions

At the London 2012 Olympics, both boxers won gold medals in their respective categories: Lomachenko winning the lightweight competition and Campbell, the bantamweight. Campbell has since gone up two weight divisions, with all of his professional accolades within the lightweight category; while Lomachenko has flitted between the featherweight and lightweight divisions in both his amateur and professional careers.

For Lomachenko, it’s a first professional fight on UK soil and more importantly, a debut in the capital – somewhere he has previously cited as a destination of choice. For Campbell, it’s his fourth outing at the arena and having fought the majority of his fights on home soil, he will feel more at home – particularly with the crowd behind him.

Second shot at a world title

Campbell’s been in this position before. In September 2017, he fought Venezuelan, Jorge Linares for the WBA and The Ring lightweight titles. He came agonisingly close, with the bout lasting the full 12 rounds, but Linares eventually won by split decision. Campbell’s yet to taste defeat in his three bouts since and will surely have learnt lessons from that narrow defeat. Since that defeat, not only has Campbell changed his backroom team, he’s also more focused on his training and weight, explaining:

“It’s been just over a year here, this is our third fight together and I’ve improved in every department really; I’m going from strength to strength. Before Jorge, I was sort of training myself, going out and about, I spent a lot of time down on the GB camps but other than that, I was mainly on my own. This is why I say now is the first time in my pro career I feel like I’ve finally got that solid team around me.”

Not only that, but Campbell has a two-inch height difference and four-inch reach advantage over his opponent – he’s a big puncher, but will need to keep up with the footwork of Loma.

The high calibre of ‘Hi-Tech’

Of course, standing in his way is the big Ukrainian – who boasts one loss in 14 professional fights, undoubtedly one of the best records of any fighter, with fewer than 15 fights under their belts. As well as this, he has three titles to his name, winning his first world title in just his third bout (again Gary Russell Jr). By his seventh, he won his next world title, with the most recent coming against Jorge Linares last year.

There’s a reason he’s been nicknamed ‘The Matrix’ – a mixture of masterful footwork, feints and trickery have left many an opponent on the deck. It’s sure to be a great battle for two of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the division.

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