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Looking Ahead to Lomachenko-Campbell and Other Fights on Saturday

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  • Looking Ahead to Lomachenko-Campbell and Other Fights on Saturday

    Click image for larger version  Name:	loma 2.PNG Views:	1 Size:	805.3 KB ID:	14401

    By Arne K. Lang

    Vasiliy Lomachenko, #1 on several pound-for-pound lists, returns to the ring on Saturday at London’s O2 Arena to meet Luke Campbell in a battle of former Olympic gold medalists that will air on ESPN+. Lomachenko last fought in April when he ran off Anthony Crolla in a total mismatch. During their 10 minutes of fighting, Crolla was credited with landing only 12 punches. The bout ended with him splattered face down on the canvas.

    Campbell, a southpaw like Lomachenko, is a big star in the UK. When he won gold at the 2012 London games, becoming the first British boxer to win gold in his weight class (bantamweight) since 2008, British Mail issued a first-class postage stamp with his likeness on it and he was appointed an MBE, short for the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. (The closest kin to an MBE in the U.S. would be the Presidential Medal of Freedom.) He enhanced his profile with an appearance on ITV’s popular “Dancing on Ice” series where he placed third.

    As a pro, Campbell is 20-2 (16 KOs). Both losses were by split decision, the first to Ivan Mendy and the second to former WBA and WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares. He avenged the loss to Mendy after taking on Shane McGuigan as his trainer.

    Lomachenko, reportedly 396-1 as an amateur, has won 12 straight since coming up short in his second pro bout against mauler Orlando Salido. During the streak he won titles in three weight classes: 126, 130, and 135. Three lightweight title belts will be at stake on Saturday, all but the IBF diadem held by Richard Commey who reportedly has a date with Teofimo Lopez in December.

    Campbell has a history of starting slow and has been dropped by Linares, Mendy, and Argenis Mendez, although he always got up. Needless to say, he’s a big underdog.

    There’s a growing feeling, however, that the Englishman, with his home field advantage, will make things interesting. They may weigh the same, but standing side by side one can see that Campbell is bigger. Boxing writer Mark Eisner says that Campbell will be the hardest puncher that Loma has faced since Salido. He notes that Loma has had hand and shoulder problems lately and speculates that this could be a sign of age creeping in. To this we would add the Shane McGuigan factor. The laurels keep coming for the 2016 BWAA Trainer of the Year. For this fight, McGuigan has reportedly had Campbell sparring with three guys at once.

    That would seem wise. In the ring, Lomachenko is a ghost, a ghost with a hammer in his hand to steal the nickname applied to the fabled Welsh flyweight Jimmy Wilde. “He’s even better than I thought. His balance and his feet are incredible,” said Anthony Crolla, “and the angles he picks are just crazily good.”

    There are two interesting fights on the undercard. Charlie Edwards defends his WBC world flyweight title against Mexico’s Julio Cesar Martinez. Hughie Fury, Tyson Fury’s cousin, opposes former heavyweight title-holder Alexander Povetkin. A participant in seven world title fights (excluding interims), Povetkin, who turns 40 in a few days, is a consensus 17/10 favorite.

    The Fury-Povetkin fight will air at 4:00 pm ET / 1:00 PT on ESPN+ with the Lomachenko-Campbell bout to follow. The undercard will start on ESPN+ at 1:00 pm ET / 10:00 am PT.

    Bendigo

    On Saturday in the Australian inland city of Bendigo, which can trace its name to a famous British bare-knuckle fighter, there’s an important 10-round domestic squabble between Brisbane’s Jeff Horn (19-1-1, 13 KOs) and Melbourne’s Michael Zerafa (26-3, 15 KOs). If Horn should win, as expected, he will fight Ryota Murata in late December for Murata’s WBC world middleweight title. That’s the word from Horn’s U.S. promoter Bob Arum.

    Horn, a former schoolteacher who fights with a metal plate in his neck, etched his name in Australian sports lore in May of 2017 when he scored a unanimous, albeit controversial, decision over Manny Pacquiao. It was a monumental upset and it came in a fight hyped as the biggest boxing event ever in the Land Down Under.

    That led to a fight with Terence Crawford which didn’t turn out well for him. In his last start, Horn starched countryman Anthony Mundine with a left hook in the opening round. Mundine is ancient and his reflexes are shot, but he twice held a version of the world super middleweight title and this was a nice scalp for Horn to hang on his bedpost.

    Michael Zerafa’s three losses have all come on the road: vs. Arif Magomedov in Moscow (UD 10), Peter Quillin at Foxwoods in Connecticut (KO by 5), and Kell Brook (UD 12) in Brooks’ hometown of Sheffield, England. He doesn’t lack for confidence. “Quite simply, my boxing ability is vastly superior to Jeff Horn. He is tough, yes, but skills pay the bills and he only knows one way, which is to walk forward,” said Zerafa to Melbourne Herald Sun reporter Jon Anderson.

    Zerafa, like Horn, likes to press the action. This has the appearance of an entertaining fight.

    Minneapolis

    Five years have elapsed since Erislandy Lara fought Canelo Alvarez. The fight, said Las Vegas Review-Journal sports editor Ed Graney, “was tougher to score than your average Hawaiian Tropic swimsuit competition.” But in the end, two of the judges thought Canelo’s aggression trumped Lara’s slicker boxing and the budding Mexican superstar was returned the winner on a split decision.

    Lara and his long-time trainer Ronnie Shields didn’t think the fight was tough to score. “We wuz robbed,” they shouted. And indeed, had the crowd at the MGM Grand Garden not been overwhelmingly pro-Canelo, the result may have been different.

    Lara demanded a rematch that never happened and almost certainly never will happen now that Canelo’s thicker torso has thickened some more, mobilizing him to pursue prey in higher weight classes. Their 2014 match was contested at the “catchweight” of 155 pounds.

    While Lara, the Cuban exile, will never have the opportunity to avenge that particular loss, a victory on Saturday over Ramon Alvarez, Canelo’s older brother, will ease some of the hurt. The winner will claim the vacant WBA 154-pound world title, giving the WBA two 154-pound world champions (arrrgh), the other being Julian Williams.

    Lara (25-3-3, 14 KOs) is a bigger favorite over Alvarez (28-7-3, 16 KOs) than is Lomachenko over Campbell. But hold the phone. Lara is 36 years old (perhaps even older) and beginning to show his age. In his last start, against Brian Castano, Lara lost the last three rounds on all three cards and had to settle for a draw. In his fight before that, he was knocked down in the 12th round by Jarrett Hurd, enabling Hurd to capture Lara’s world title belt on a split decision in a fight that was a strong Fight of the Year candidate (but ultimately overtaken by Fury-Wilder).

    Al Haymon, the driving force behind Premier Boxing Champions, reportedly has more than 100 fighters under contract. As a consequence, his shows tend to have very deep undercards. There are 15 bouts scheduled on Saturday’s show at the Armory. Most qualify as “showcase fights” for Haymon’s blue-chip prospects, of which there are many.

    Lara vs. Alvarez will air live on FOX at 8 pm ET / 5 pm PT. The appetizer is an 8-round match between ever-improving six-foot-five junior middleweight Sebastian Fundora (13-0, 9 KOs) and fellow southpaw Jamontay Clark (14-1, 7 KOs).

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel
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