By Ian S Palmer
WBA Lightweight Champion Jorge Linares of Venezuela will be defending his crown against Luke Campbell of England at the Forum in Inglewood, California this Saturday, September 23rd.
The 12-round bout can be seen live in the U.S. And Canada on HBO while fans in the UK can catch it on Sky Sports. Linares is a former WBC Champ and is defending the WBA Title for the second time. He won the belt and defended it against Anthony Crolla of England by unanimous decisions last September and March respectively. Campbell last fought in April when he stopped Darleys Perez in the ninth round.
The 32-year-old Linares enters the ring at 42-3 with 27 Kos under his belt. He has plenty of experience, skill and speed and also a former featherweight and super featherweight world champion and has recently been living in Japan. He won the vacant WBC Lightweight Belt in December, 2014 by stopping Javier Prieto in the fourth round in Tokyo. However, the WBC stripped him of the title in February, 2016 after suffering a hand injury and being unable to defend the title. They then named him WBC Diamond Champion for what it’s worth.
Linares’ three losses have been against Juan Salgado in 2009, Antonio DeMarco in 2011 and Sergio Thompson in 2012. Those defeats revealed a questionable chin since all three men stopped him. Linares’ biggest wins have been over Crolla (twice), Jesus Chavez, Oscar Larios, Nihito Arakawa and Rocky Juarez. The Venezuelan champ stands 5-feet-8-inches tall with a 69-inch reach and has fought 268 rounds since turning pro back in 2002. Linares has decent power as he carries a 60 per cent knockout ratio around with him.
The 29-year-old Campbell has a fine record of 17-1 with 14 Kos to his name. He’s a slick-boxing southpaw who stands 5-feet-9-inches tall with a 71-inch reach, which gives him an inch advantage in height and two inches in reach. He only turned pro in 2013 and has 96 rounds under his belt up to now. He’s got good power with a current knockout ratio of 78 per cent. Campbell, who hails from the city of Hull, won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England. He hasn’t faced the same level op opposition as Linares though.
Campbell has handled the pro game just as well as he did the amateurs with his only loss coming at the hands of Yvan Mendy by way of a 12-round split decision in December of 2015. The young man has won the WBC International Lightweight title, WBC Silver Lightweight Title, and British Commonwealth Title so far in his career. Campbell has progressed well as a pro, but failed the test when he met his first world-class solid opponent in Mendy. He then made up for it with his win over Perez the last time out.
Campbell’s other notable wins have been over the likes of Gary Sykes, Tommy Coyle, former IBF Super Featherweight Champion Argenis Mendez and Derry Mathews. He’ll be stepping up in class once again this weekend against Linares. Campbell’s style and power make him a fan-friendly boxer, but it would still be a bit of a stretch to call him an elite boxer at this stage of his career even though he is underrated by most fans and experts. A win here would be a huge boost to Campbell’s career with an opportunity for a couple of big-money fights.
Campbell has an excellent knockout ratio of 78 per cent, but he’s not a huge one-punch KO artist. He usually stops opponents with his boxing skills and an accumulation of blows. In addition, he’s also been down a couple of times in his pro career and doesn’t have the greatest of chins. However, Linares as been stopped three times himself and can’t underestimate the Briton. This is a great opportunity for Campbell to make a name for himself in the U.S. I think he’ll perform well, but will ultimately fall short as Linares retains his title.