Can Luke Campbell Pull Off The ‘Impossible’ Against Linares?
By Dale Joseph from A1FightGear.com
This weekend, the 2012 Olympics gold medallist, Luke Campbell, will travel to Los Angeles to take on the classy Jorge Linares. The WBA lightweight champion is determined to push his career in the UK, but contractual obligations with HBO have meant the fight will take place in the states. Nevertheless, despite the label of ‘underdog’ heading into this bout, Campbell will look to dethrone the talented Venezuelan in just his 19th professional fight.
By now, Linares is no stranger to British boxing fans, having dominantly destroyed Anthony Crolla over two fights and prior to that defeated Kevin Mitchell. In all of those fights, especially the two against Crolla; Linares displayed his superior ability, his lightning-quick speed and sublime combinations. But his defensive skills were also fantastic, and his movement and reactions kept him out of range and able to avoid big punches.
So, Campbell has got an incredibly tough task on his hands to snatch the world-title away from one of the world’s best pound-for-pound boxers. Although he is extremely confident now he is under the tutelage of renowned Cuban trainer, Jorge Rubio. Speaking to Sky Sports, he had the following to say regarding everyone writing him off; “If you look back most of my career in the amateurs, I’ve always been the underdog. I’d win the ABA’s, the next year I’d go in the ABA’s and still be an underdog. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest whatsoever.” He continued; “I’m happy with everything. At the end of the day, no one can make choices for anybody. Just because I write something down doesn’t mean I can make the choice in your head a difference.”
Cool Hands, as Campbell is also known, forced his way into a mandatory challenger position by beating Darleys Perez back in April. But, the man from Hull is no stranger to defeat, and back in December 2015 an unexpected loss to Yvan Mendy knocked him off his upwards trajectory. However, genuinely great fighters are judged by their reaction to a crushing defeat; so many legends in the sport have losses on their record.
Since that defeat to Mendy, Campbell has put together five consecutive wins, four of them coming inside the distance. So, it is justified that the Olympic gold medallist is now challenging for the WBA, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine lightweight titles, despite many saying it is far too soon. After all, who wouldn’t accept a shot at the world title if it was offered to them?
The vast-majority of people believe it is going to be a one-sided affair, and that the orthodox Venezuelan is going to have too much for the southpaw Brit. Of course, Luke Campbell is going to need to box out of his skin to knock Linares off his lofty perch, but he does have some advantages over the champion. With a height and reach advantage whilst boxing from a rangy southpaw stance; the highly-decorated Brit has a change to stay out of range, dominate with the jab and endure the devastating combinations until Linares starts to tire.
Moreover, Campbell won’t be fazed at all by the enormity of the fight and prestigious Forum venue. He has fought all across the world as an amateur, and in the short professional career he has to date he’s faced a lot of pressure as a result of the gold medal. Plus, if you want to take age into consideration; Linares is now 32 and has clocked up a lot of miles since turning professionals, 45 fights to be precise, whereas Campbell is 29, fresh and still waiting to enter his prime
Ultimately, this is boxing, and whilst many see the challenge too much, too soon, anything is possible. But, to have any kind of success against a fighter like Linares, it is crucial that Campbell stays at distance, utilizes his reach advantage with the jab. Now, he’ll also need to display his power, both to the head and more importantly to the body in order to slow Linares down. As without the speed, energy and blistering combination punches, Jorge Linares is more than beatable.
However, becoming the third Brit to lose to Jorge Linares wouldn’t be the end of the world. Campbell is jumping at the opportunity in his 19th professional fight, all the way over in sunny Los Angeles, against a three-weight world champion who is considered one of the pound-for-pound kings. So, if he wins, which is possible, he can go on to try and dominate the lightweight division with some great unification bouts against Mikey Garcia or Terry Flannagan. If he loses, then he can rebuild and go again with the extra exposure that a fight against Linares will provide him with.