THE final act of a hectic week was complete. After a long face off Vasyl Lomachenko and Luke Campbell stepped back. Neither turned away, neither looked away. They nodded and smiled, declining to break the stare for another few moments until, finally, they exited the stage. The weigh in was done. All that’s left is Saturday’s fight when they will bid to unify the WBC, WBO and WBA world lightweight titles.
It’s been a long time since boxers at the lighter weights sold out the O2 Arena in London. That’s testament to the star power and superb talents of Lomachenko and the intrigue of this particular bout; Luke Campbell is Britan’s best hope to mount a challenge to the brilliant Ukrainian.
For Campbell he finally gets to step into the full glare of public attention. At last he gets to play a starring role. He is an Olympic gold medallist, he can and has filled a stadium in his Hull hometown, yet his first world title fight was in America and his last couple of contests have been subsumed into undercards. At long last now he will get to perform on the big stage.
“I’ve always been on the verge. I’ve been chief support a lot, on a lot of big cards and I’ve always on the verge of it. Finally I get to be the main event. I mean I’ve been the main event a lot but not on shows like this. Not on pay-per-view,” he said. “Having to go to America for a world title shot is never ideal when we have shows like this in the UK and with the fans that we’ve got. I’m very happy I can put this show on for the fans and entertain.
“This is where every boxer wants to be. They want to be on these, headlining pay-per-view events with a sold out arena, that’s amazing. So I’m happy… But I’m not just happy to be a part of it. I’m not here just for that, I’m here to win. I’ve got a job to do.”
For a well spoken Olympic champion, this has been overdue. But Campbell says, “Listen, it’s a business. I don’t feel under appreciated or forgotten or anything like that. I know what I’m in. I don’t urge for love, I just want to entertain the fans as much as I can.”
He could be forgiven some frustration after a solid week of being asked about just how good Lomachenko is. “Every interview is about him. What has he got, everything that he does, his tricks, I feel like a parrot repeating myself over and over again,” Campbell said. “You guys might have known him for a couple of years but I’ve known him since 2003. I know how good he is, I know what he is about. He’s fought all the same kids I’ve fought in the amateurs [but] we were always at different weights. I didn’t follow him around. I didn’t go to watch him… I’ve never chatted with him. He probably didn’t speak any English then. I’ve known of him, I didn’t know him personally. He was just another fighter on the circuit.”
But Luke continued, “He has been built up to a superstar because of his results, he’s had fantastic results, he is a three-weight world champion, that’s what the media does, it builds people up because he deserves it, because he has achieved what he has achieved. Timing is everything in life, I haven’t been a three-weight world champion yet but one day you will be bigging me up.”