The pound-for-pound number one puts his titles on the line at the O2 Arena.
Hull’s Luke Campbell takes on one of the world’s pound-for-pound best boxers in Vasyl Lomachenko this weekend at the O2 Arena in London and the boxing Twittersphere has been up in arms about this one from the moment it was announced. Criticism was levelled at Campbell for having the audacity to take on a P4P great, criticism was levelled at Campbell’s promoter Eddie Hearn for wilfully feeding his charge to the Ukrainian monster. However, all these naysayers seem to forget something – Campbell is an Olympic gold medallist, a world-class boxer in his own right and is a big tall specimen at lightweight. Of course Campbell is a big underdog against the Ukrainian sensation, with odds as long as 19/2 and 9/1 available with some bookies (the best available price for Lomachenko a meagre 1/14) but this is what real fans of the sport should get excited about – world-class boxing.
I, for one, find Campbell’s price at 9/1 tempting, he hasn’t quite hit the heights he was expected to after winning gold at the London Olympics, but he’s undoubtedly one of Britain’s most talented boxers with a smart boxing brain. He also holds some notable physical advantages over Lomachenko, he’s considerably taller and has a longer reach. Lomachenko has come all the way up from featherweight, whereas Campbell has the frame of a light welterweight. With all that said, the long price on Campbell boils down to the fact Lomachenko is a once in a generation talent, and whilst 9/1 on a boxer of Campbell quality is tempting, it’s hard to see past a Lomachenko victory, regardless of the quality of the Ukrainian’s opponent.
The bookies suggest the single most likely outcome is Lomachenko to win via stoppage (4/9) but Campbell feels like a new conundrum for Lomachenko that will be more awkward and challenging than what he’s faced before. There are not many boxers you’d fancy to take Lomachenko the distance, but a big, hard-hitting and technically adept southpaw like Luke Campbell is one I would pick. Furthermore, since moving up to lightweight Lomachenko has been on the canvas against Linares and looked off his best in a decision victory over Pedraza. Whilst still undoubtedly excellent, lightweight might not be Lomachenko’s best weight. With that in mind, the 13/5 available on a Lomachenko decision win looks much better value than the stoppage price.
However, for almost the same price you can back the fight to go the distance (either fighter to win) with BetVictor (5/2). Whilst both fighters can hurt each other there’s a real chance this could become a cagier, tactical chess match and a points victory either way could be on the cards. Lomachenko likes to box on the outside and break his opponents down; this may be more difficult against a boxer with Campbell’s stature and quality. With 5/2 available on the fight to go the distance and the same price widely offered by bookies on Lomachenko to win a decision, it makes no sense to back Lomachenko if you think Campbell has a sniff in this fight. Take the 5/2 on the fight to go the distance.
What the market does tell us, in pricing a Lomachenko decision and the distance fight virtually the same, is that it’s convinced Campbell should not win over the 12 rounds. Whether that is correct is up for debate, but it is likely that Campbell’s tactics will be to hurt Lomachenko rather than outbox him with speed and movement. He will be looking to walk Lomachenko onto powerful shots, using timing and his natural height and reach advantages. Lomachenko is hittable and can be dropped, as happened when fighting Jorge Linares. It’s worth a small punt on Lomachenko to be knocked down at 5/1, a bet which could very conceivably pay out if the fight goes the distance but would also cover you in the event of the man from Hull causing the biggest upset since Andy Ruiz Jr stopped Anthony Joshua.