Luke Campbell believes the “timing is perfect” and will refuse to accept underdog status against Vasyl Lomachenko the boxer regarded as No 1 in the world in their three-belt lightweight world title on August 31 at the O2 Arena.
The two protagonists have in common that they are both London 2012 Olympic gold medallists, and the Ukrainian expressed his delight at the opportunity to fight in Britain’s capital again, this time as a world champion.
“It has come at the perfect time, and these are the challenges I’ve always wanted, I’ve craved fighting the very best,” explained Campbell on Monday after a long staredown with the Ukrainian fighter at a news conference to make the fight official at a venue just below London Bridge.
The city is significant for both men. It has been seven years since Campbell – the most decorated amateur in British boxing history – won his Olympic bantamweight gold just along the Thames at the EXCEL Centre in London.
Lomachenko, moreover, the unified lightweight champion and widely regarded as the best technical boxer in the world at present, claimed the second his two Olympic gold medals in two weight divisions at those memorable Games in London. In just fourteen professional fights, the man nicknamed ‘The Matrix’ has won professional titles in three weight divisions from featherweight to lightweight (122 to 135 pounds) and is already revered in the industry.
Lomachenko told Telegraph Sport: “I’m happy to be in London again. I have great memories of winning the Olympic gold medal in London. The venue was full every day and the atmosphere was electric. I think this will be a very technical fight, and you have to love the British boxing fans because they are so passionate, emotional and noisy. I only have great memories of boxing here.”
“I don’t want to talk too much,” he added. “It might be the toughest fight of my career so far, maybe, because he has a height and reach advantage. Maybe it will be for me a big challenge, but I never think about it. I just do my job, train hard and then I come in the ring. I’m going to leave a winner, that’s all I know.”
Campbell, meanwhile, said: “I’ve never shied away from a challenge This is a big challenge but these are the type of challenges that I train for every day and prepare for. I believe it’s the two best lightweights in the division facing off and I think this fight brings everything to the table: boxing IQ, power, speed, agility.”
“It has the making to be one of the great fights on these shores. I’m the challenger, he’s the champion, I respect everything he has achieved but I also believe that every champion was a challenger once, and I know I have what it takes to become a champion. It took me a while to get settled in the professional game, but this now feels like perfect timing.”