Luke Campbell proved to be a worthy opponent and found success in stretches against Vasyl Lomachenko but it wasn’t enough to prevent the best pound-for-pound fighter from making history.
Campbell fell well short of springing the upset he hoped to achieve on Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at the O2 Arena in London, losing by unanimous decision, 119-108, 119-108, 118-109 on the scorecards.
With the win, Loma retained his WBA, WBO and The Ring world lightweight titles, and picked up the vacant WBC strap. He’s won world championships in three separate weight classes as a professional to accompany his 396-1 mark as an amateur.
The Ukrainian now moves to 14-1 with 10 KOs while Campbell falls to 20-3.
It was a tougher fight than many expected and a difficult match stylistically of a southpaw vs southpaw.
Campbell, who captured Olympic gold in 2012, fought well early. The Brit brilliantly used his five-inch reach advantage to keep the champion on the outside.
Lomachenko was even caught with a looping overhand right that buzzed him in the second, but it would all ultimately prove to be fleeting.
Lomachenko eventually began to find his groove with the right jab which he used to back Campbell up. He unleased a vicious left hook to the liver in the fifth which genuinely hurt his opponent followed by a barrage of punches to the body and head.
Campbell appeared to have fully recovered in the sixth and connected with some solid jabs but by then, Lomachenko was beginning to walk him down.
The seventh round saw both men exchanging hard shots including a stiff punch from Campbell that hurt Lomachenko coming in. “Cool Hand” proceeded to swing wildly in a vain attempt to capitalise but Lomachenko managed to shake it off.
The action slowed noticeably over the next two rounds and both guys begun to look tired but Lomachenko still managed to do enough to sweep them on the scorecards.
With time slipping away from the challenger, Campbell tried to press the action in the eleventh. However, Lomachenko drilled him with a perfect counter left hook and then landed a bevy of punishing blows to the mid-section. A raking right to the face would finally put Campbell down forcing him to take a knee.
Lomachenko came out aggressively in the final round looking for the knockout as Campbell wisely tied him up. Campbell is later warned for a low blow which appeared to frustrate Lomachenko because the action was stopped. The round would end bizarrely with Campbell literally picking Lomachenko up and dumping him to the canvas in desperation.
Asked for his reaction to how good Lomachenko really is, Campbell replied, “He’s just beat me, so he’s very good. He’s a special fighter. We all knew he was a special fighter. But this is boxing, and we train to win. I’m disappointed in myself. But it’s hard to follow through with someone like that who is so good in front of you.”
Lomachenko is now poised to target the winner of Richard Commey vs Teofimo Lopez in December for the IBF lightweight championship and possible division unification, which was last accomplished by the late, great Pernell Whitaker.