By Tré Berry III | 08/29/2019
🤔 On Saturday, two premiere Lightweights will meet in London, England, with aspirations of leaving the O2 arena with the WBA, WBC, WBO & coveted RING-MAGAZINE belts. This essentially sets off the second round of an unofficial tournament that will ultimately produce an Undisputed Lightweight Champion for the first time in the last 28 years, since Virginia boxing legend 🥇🇺🇸Pernell Whitaker achieved this feat when he knocked out Juan Nazario in the first round back on August 8th, 1991. As for current times, Ukranian superstar 🥇🥇🇺🇦Vasiliy “Loma” Lomachenko will step inside the squared circle, with intentions of defending the RING/WBA/WBO Titles that he is in possession of, and is looking to add the vacant WBC strap to his collection.
As for England’s 🥇🇬🇧“Cool Hand” Luke Campbell, he is looking to break through on the grandest of scales to become a World Champion in his own right, and is staring at P4P aspirations in the face of his opponent who is shrouded in the accolades that Luke himself is coveting. Both have esteemed amateur pedigree, and both are Olympic Gold-Medalist’s.
Though their paths have been very differing from each other in the professional ranks, with Lomachenko on a hellbent course to historical mythos, and Campbell surviving a couple of hiccups to rebound stronger, putting it all together and improving as an excellent boxer, they are both right now in the middle of their primes as in my opinion the 2 best all-around Lightweights in the world, and will fight to get one step closer to the grand prize of holding all the hardware at 135.
THE PATHS – Vasiliy Lomachenko, since he became a Champion in 2014 when he defeated the talented, speedy American 🇺🇸Gary Russell Jr. by decision to win the WBO Featherweight belt, has openly shared his aspirations of camping out at his weight category to pursue all of the major world title belts to become an Undisputed Champion.
Vasiliy has had fits in getting some top fighters in the ring with him, most of that due to his own personal performances proving his skill-set to be otherworldly and scaring promoters into isolating and protecting their top fighters from facing embarrassment to the level of ruining the projected course of revenue that they have for their main investments, and with fighters taking note of how good Lomachenko is, coming up with a litany excuses not to fight him.
Even someone as highly touted and respected as multi-weight titlist 🇬🇧Carl “Jackal” Frampton had stepped aside at a potential bout…though he was open and up front about it all, stating that he wouldn’t fight Lomachenko because he would flat out get beat. Instead Vasiliy fought top contenders and further scared the landscape where he couldn’t get any of the Featherweight Champions in with him.
The natural thing for Lomachenko to do was to move up with hopes to fight some of the top guns there, and he did get his wish early, facing 🇵🇷Rocky Martinez who possessed the WBO Super-Featherweight title, and in succession fighting the dangerous 🪓🇯🇲Nicolas Walters, who was bordering on P4P list placement, who was treated as the boogeyman by some fighters. Lomachenko dominated both fighters without losing a round, and forced the “Axe Man” to quit.
Since then, Lomachenko fought a couple quality talents, though not of the variety of Champions, facing the same problem that he had a division below. Instead Lomachenko circled around to fight a grudge match with fellow 2-time Gold-Medalist 🥇🥇🇨🇺Guillermo Rigondeaux, breaking him down and capping off his time at Super-Featherweight (at least for the time being).
Lomachenko moved up in weight again, immediately targeting the Lightweight Champion of the World, and combating against 🇻🇪Jorge Linares to win a title in a 3rd division. It is here at 135 that he has finally found some willing partners looking to test his extensive merit against, and upon being pleased with the cooperation from the most of the divisions other talent, he is going forward to fighting only the guys who possesses a belt to catapult him into a different stratosphere.
In Luke Campbell’s journey, he has taken a much slower, more measured arc throughout his pro campaign in learning the subtleties of the profession to further transition his amateur background to his repertoire. On the come-up, he lost a fight to 🇫🇷Yvan Mendy, however he learned from the experience to better himself as a fighter.
He worked himself back up to World Title contention to face 🇻🇪Jorge Linares and fought the Lightweight Champion very tough, though losing a close decision on the cards. Campbell took the experiences from that fight and further improved his standing as a boxer, to where he was able to not only secure a #1 contender spot, but also in defeating and dominating Yvan Mendy in a rematch, catapulting him to the most difficult challenge that he will ever face as a pro.
HOW IT ALL BREAKS DOWN🔎 The previous notion for Lomachenko is an interesting one, and the reason why is at this current juncture, Lomachenko is a natural Super-Featherweight fighter considering his physical dimensions. His journey to the Lightweight division was in pursuit of challenges, though against most of the crop, his height and reach are at a disadvantage as a smaller fighter. Though he runs small, he is physically very strong, and more than skillfully equipped to handle any and all that’s in front of him.
Lomachenko is capable of every skill in the book, and is void of any weakness, but if the division has any challenge to him, it’s that with him being the smaller fighter in these match-ups, it somewhat pigeon-holes him into fighting a particular style fight where he has to predominantly fight his fights on the inside and pick his shots to do what he needs to do in order to break down his man, whereas at Super-Featherweight, he could fight at any desired range at his whim with the competition being closer to his natural size.
In this fight, Lomachenko will really be put to the physical test, as Luke Campbell is a very rangy, 5’10 boxer with a solid jab, who has a keen sense in how to use range and distance to orchestrate his offense.
Fortunate for Vasiliy, size and reach disadvantage has never been a problem of his throughout his career, evidenced by any contests in the amateurs where he perfectly orchestrated his movement, defense to get in and carefully place the punches he needed to land, most notably in his amateur fight against now-unified WBC/WBO Junior-Welterweight World Champion 🇺🇸Jose Carlos Ramirez, who stands at 5’10 and fights tall, who also possessed a 7 inch reach advantage over Vasiliy, yet he couldn’t handle the Ukrainian fighter, or keep him at bay, losing wide in the point scoring system.
There are plenty examples, not just in the amateurs, but in the pros as well where Lomachenko shows complete mastery of distance, defense, angular assault, footwork and countering ability to render height and reach as a disadvantage against him a non-issue, maintaining his defensive integrity while he steps into his desired range where he can’t be countered effectively coming in, and letting his shots go at the right time either when he sees an opening, or anything that he can counter over, or under the shots of his opponent.
With that being stated, in accordance to Campbells size and abilities, I expect this fight to be the most aggressive showing of Lomachenko’s pro career in placing extra emphasis to darting in with his footwork to break down the body, then fire mixed combinations to the head and body. This will also be the fourth 🥇Gold-Medalist that Loma will have fought in his career, and has resounding results with a 3-0 record, looking to make it 4-0 over fighters with such distinction.
There has been reports that have come out in the last few days that Luke Campbell has been in sparring sessions where he is sparring against 3 fighters, all at the same time. That is a very interesting concept…..highly unconventional approach, yet the method makes plenty of sense. Given Lomachenko’s unpredictability, one never knows what, when or how Loma gets off certain shots, and how he sometimes strings them together for 7-8 punch combinations once he collects your data and ups his level from minute to minute, so what Campbell’s doing here is preparing for the unexpected, and trying to get used to incoming traffic in the form of punches at every single angle, at different times and different speeds.
It has also been made clear that Campbell has been sparring with fellow British fighter 🇬🇧Josh Kelly. There is nothing or no one that can prepare you for Lomachenko’s footwork and movement, but Kelly does give you certain angles to study, so that should serve Campbell well while he tries to piece together all the different components that he is about to face through highly unconventional methods.
For Luke Campbell, he must find ways to effectively keep Lomachenko outside and work behind the stick jab responsibly, and try to time Lomachenko’s footwork and step with his step as he makes his way inside to offset it to keep the distance to keep working outside. Lomachenko hardly gives you anything to hit in any of the 3 different ranges (inside, middle distance and outside), but effectively operating this game plan would help Luke somewhat alleviate a portion of the problem. If Campbell fails to implement tactics such as these, he will be in for a very, very long night.
PREDICTION🔮 With everything considered and all the chips on the table, I see Campbell making the fight difficult in the first 4 rounds, perhaps even winning 2 of those first 4 rounds, which would be very impressive for Campbell going forward considering that Lomachenko hardly ever loses any rounds at all. This would be during the time Vasiliy takes a measured approach to assess his desired range, the skills of Campbell and his tendencies.
After Lomachenko gets a full grasp of what Campbell is all about, Lomachenko will start to ramp up his attack and kick into full gear, dissecting and dominating Campbell from the 5th round on in varying degrees, to eventually secure a late TKO stoppage, propelling Lomachenko one step closer to his ultimate goal.
🥁|| FINAL VERDICT – Though I predict this will be his toughest fight for “The Matrix” in the pro ranks to date void of injury setbacks and cheating tactics, I say 🥇🥇🇺🇦Vasiliy Lomachenko wins via 10th round TKO stoppage, and leaves England with the RING/WBA/WBC/WBO Lightweight World Title Belts.