TOMMY COYLE insists he is treating Luke Campbell just like any other opponent ahead of their crunch clash at the KC Lightstream Stadium on Saturday in their hometown, Hull.
Much has been made of the pair’s history, having grown up together and trained alongside each other as amateurs.
While Coyle maintains that Campbell’s description of him as an ‘associate’ still rankles, he is not looking at their fight as anything more than what it is – his job.
“It’s just business. I spar with people that I’m friends with, who I’ve grown up with. It’s just a job, I’ve just got to try and get him out of there and knock him out, inflict as much pain on him as possible,” he told Boxing News.
“It’s like when people go to war, they don’t personally dislike the enemy, it’s just their job to kill, and it’s just my job to beat Luke Campbell. It’s just a job in front of me, he’s just in my way of progressing so I’ll go in there, execute the game plan and the best man will be victorious.”
The unbeaten Campbell is only 11 fights into his professional career, albeit after a wildly successful run as an amateur, culminating in an Olympic gold medal at London 2012.
Coyle, who has lost two of his 23 professional bouts, feels his local adversary has agreed to this matchup at the wrong time.
“I think I’m too much for him at this stage of his career. I think he’s taken this fight too early. He’s a world class fighter and there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll become a world champion but I just think, right now, it’s too early for him and I’m too much for him,” he said.
The bookmakers disagree, having installed Coyle as an 11/2 underdog ahead of Saturday night, although Tommy is well aware of the challenge in front of him, despite his confidence.
“I can’t believe how far I’ve come, I never expected to come this far,” he said.
“I’m very, very fortunate to be in this situation. I’m fighting in a big event, with Michael Buffer there, but I can’t really look past Saturday night, I’ve got a hell of a tough task in front of me and I’ve got to be at my very best to come through it.”
A lot of the fight’s promotion has hinged on the history between the two but Coyle feels that was unnecessary and that the show did not require such plugging.
“He came out and said we’re just associates and I was offended to be honest. I was disappointed. It was a bit more than that [their relationship],” he said.
“This fight doesn’t need to be sold as a bad blood rivalry. It could have just been sold as two friends getting in the ring and having a tear up but he’s obviously been advised differently and if I’m honest I think his advisers haven’t got a clue.
“I’m not angry, just disappointed. I don’t wish to have friends like that anyway, if someone has got something to say or isn’t happy about something they can phone me at any one time and we could have squashed it.”
There is a lot more at stake than just bragging rights of course, as the fight is also an official eliminator for the WBC world lightweight title, currently held by Jorge Linares.
However, the city of Hull has of course been buzzing during fight week and Coyle is reveling in the attention.
“It’s been fantastic in Hull. Relevance is success for me, whether it’s good or bad the fact that I’m relevant to so many people at the moment, I take that as success and an achievement,” he said.
“It’s 50-50, Luke’s got his diehard fans and I guess I have as well. But we are both from the same city so I think the real winner in this one is Hull.”