One of the most underrated measures of a truly great fighter is his ability to recover after a chastening defeat, especially when billed as his country’s greatest hope in that division. For Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell, that experience came at the hands of Yvan Mendy, in December 2015 at a packed O2 arena.
That bout rolled around just four months after an accomplished knockout victory against Tommy Coyle, which saw Campbell win the vacant WBC International lightweight title. However, far from being deterred, the man from Hull has followed up the Mendy defeat with five convincing victories – four by knockout and one by way of unanimous decision.
Still the proud owner of the WBC Silver lightweight belt after his brutal second-round stoppage of Mexican challenger Jairo Lopez back in February, there are now very credible beliefs that Campbell will soon clash with WBA and WBC division champion Jorge Linares.
Linares: The unstoppable Brit beater?
Indeed, the upper echelon of the lightweight division has an array of British talents, against whom Linares would be sufficiently challenged in defending his belts. A third encounter with Anthony Crolla would certainly provide many talking points, but Linares’ two victories over the Brit have put clear daylight between them.
Meanwhile, a unification match with WBO title holder Terry Flanagan (now at 33-0) also has lots of commercial potential, but Flanagan still has no presence outside the WBO rankings. Ultimately, these factors could play into Campbell’s hands if a British challenger is once more sought to fight Linares. Indeed, Linares himself expressed a desire to fight in Britain shortly after his second win over Crolla.
Since a humiliating first-round stoppage at the hands of Juan Salgado in October 2009, Linares has barely misplaced a glove. Much of his strong form over the past seven years can be largely attributed to his development of a more traditional counter-punching technique, combined with a stance modification that has granted him greater power and stability at the cost of mobility. He is now also less susceptible to the type of cut which resulted in said defeat to Salgado.
In the event of Linares making a confirmed date with Campbell, even the best self-professed experts will struggle to make a prediction with much confidence. Boxing bettors will also feel equal uncertainty as they place their bets, which is why the free bets offered by some boxing betting sites will prove a godsend – for instance EnergyBet offers a £25 free bet while BoyleSports goes as high as £50.
Campbell must become “The Greatest” to avoid defeat
If Campbell is to avoid becoming the third Englishman to fall to Linares, then he will need to prepare for a long, difficult encounter with a greater focus on defensive toughness and footwork. This is because Linares is still one of the most natural punchers in the division. Not only is he now ruthlessly efficient in causing damage, but he can also use his speed to throw devastating combinations.
By riding out Linares’ combinations until the latter rounds, Campbell will then be able to use the Venezuelan champion’s strengths against him. With an inferior reach, Linares will also have little choice but to exert all his energies in weakening Campbell’s guard.
Muhammad Ali’s 1974 victory over George Foreman is, of course, the model example of this tactic being enacted successfully. It should at least provide Campbell with much food for thought ahead of this fateful clash.