Luke Campbell faces the biggest challenge of his career in the early hours of Sunday morning, as he bids to become world lightweight champion at the expense of Jorge Linares in Los Angeles.
Linares’ WBA and The Ring titles on the line, Campbell has a job on his hands to join a thin list of Brits to have gone over to the US and brought back glory to home shores after masterful showings from Kell Brook in 2014 and James DeGale the following year.
That latter mentioned feat is perhaps most relevant to Campbell’s own quest. Like DeGale, he aims to become the third ever Briton to become a world champion after winning Olympic gold with Chunky having broken the mould in a thrilling points victory over Anthony Dirrell to clinch Carl Froch’s then-recently relinquished IBF strap and reach the summit of the super middleweight division.
— Luke Campbell MBE (@luke11campbell) September 19, 2017
But how does Campbell go about relieving Linares of his belts?
Despite two of Linares’ losses coming via shock early stoppages, the Venezuelan hasn’t lost in five years since linking up with coach Ismael Salas. Linares watching from ringside, Campbell was thrilled to finish Darleys Perez in the 9th round in his last outing but, as is the case with dethroning any champion, must be convincing from the outset should the result head to the scorecards.
Having said that, though this isn’t a hometown fight for Linares, the Japan-based Nino de Oro is signed with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and, as Gennady Golovkin learned to his detriment in Las Vegas last weekend, perhaps only a knockout will do for Campbell to claim the spoils. Generally speaking, despite a flurry of TKO’s and KO’s on Campbell’s CV as of late, neither man is thought of as a knockout artist and it is highly likely that this one will be decided by the judges.
One interesting subplot to this bout is that Campbell has the legendary Antonio Rubio in his corner, who has known Salas for two decades and has even worked with him in unbeaten Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux’s camp. Campbell would be wise to follow the advice of Rubio, who may have inside knowledge on his counterpart’s possible strategies, closely.
Pleasingly for the 29-year-old from Hull, he has both a height and reach advantage on Linares that will provide the luxury of being able to stay on the outside and find his range from distance. As a southpaw, he could be a tricky customer for Linares who has been stopped against two opponents of this awkward style in the past – most surprisingly in the first round against Juan Carlos Salgado which saw him bequeath his WBA featherweight crown to the Mexican.
In any event, it would be wise not to engage Linares, capable of stringing together slick combos that could please the judgea, at close quarters. At the same time, the champ noted for keeping his hands down in the pocket on occasion, Cool Hand Luke could do damage if he picks his moment wisely.
Can Luke Campbell get close, let alone beat Jorge Linares? pic.twitter.com/CUL02WfMFi
— Boxing Polls (@BoxingPolls111) September 17, 2017