In Los Angeles on Saturday night, Britain’s Luke Campbell has the chance of a lifetime as he takes on WBA and Ring magazine lightweight champion Jorge Linares at The Forum.

Jorge Linares

The consensus for this fight is that it is a bit of a mismatch; however, it has all of the ingredients to make it a highly entertaining fight. Venezuela’s Jorge Linares is a well-traveled 32-year old, 45-fight veteran and three-weight world champion who counts recent victories over Kevin Mitchell and Anthony Crolla (twice) as his most notable wins.

Luke ‘Cool Hand’ Campbell, was the UK’s darling when winning a much coveted Olympic Gold Medal in 2012 at the London games. Things have not exactly gone as smoothly as most predicted, however. Many feel that his elite talents in the amateurs have not translated to the pro ranks as planned. Wins against Tommy Coyle, Derry Matthews, and Darleys Perez show the good, but the disastrous loss to Yvan Mendy shows the vulnerability of the man whose record stands at 17-1, 14 KOs.

Linares has had to wait until relatively recently to receive acclaim amongst the boxing fraternity. Having fought in Japan, Panama, Argentina, and Venezuela, it would be on American soil that he would win his first world title at featherweight. A title at super-featherweight would soon follow, before a knockout loss to Juan Carlos Salgado saw him move up to his current division. The ‘Golden Boy’ would have to wait until 2014 to win the WBC lightweight title with a KO win of Javier Prieto. Since then he has made three successful trips to England beating British challengers Kevin Mitchell and Anthony Crolla in entertaining bouts on his way to a 42-3 record and his mix of rapid speed, explosiveness, and ring craft have given him fan favourite status in the UK.

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Luke ‘cool hand’ Campbell

Campbell has mostly lived up to the bill since turning professional in 2013. When he lost to Mendy, it left many wondering if he would see his career derailed. Instead, he has shown great resolve and a tremendous attitude, learning from the mistakes he made in that fight, he has bounced back to defeat the likes of Derry Mathews, Jairo Lopez, and Darleys Perez, looking increasingly impressive each time. He has quick and accurate hands, good footwork and is a very intelligent fighter.

It seems like a very tough ask for the baby-faced man from Hull, but at 29-years old, it’s no surprise that he has jumped at the chance to face a tough opponent stateside. He also has the advantage, if you can call it that, of already tasting defeat, so is not looking to protect his ‘0’ and neither is promoter Eddie Hearn. He is also more talented than Kevin Mitchell and Anthony Crolla who have both taken Linares close in the past few years.

I think this has the potential to be a great fight. Both fighters are well-matched and the bout arrives at a good time in their careers. Campbell’s team may feel that being a natural lightweight, he will have the size advantage and Linares can be vulnerable at times when he stays in the pocket too long. Both have respectable power, but neither are true knockout artists, so a knockout win for either would be a surprising outcome.

As often the case when two technical boxers enter the ring, it will likely be a cagey affair for the first half of the fight. Linares can win this if he keeps the fight at mid-range and is able to make the most of his hand speed and land some of his fierce uppercuts. Campbell would do well to try to use his size advantage and get on the inside where he can use his quick hands to expose Linares sometimes-suspect defence. He also cuts easily which would be good for Campbell. Either way, it should be a cracking fight for the purists.

By Chris Jessop
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