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By ESPN Boxing

London, UK (September 1, 2019)–  Vasiliy Lomachenko moved a step closer to becoming the undisputed lightweight world champion with an action-packed unanimous decision victory against Luke Campbell on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.

Lomachenko defended his two 135-pound belts and added a vacant one to his collection as he won a lopsided, but hard-fought battle with England’s Campbell on ESPN+ in a fight between Olympic gold-medal winners before a wild sold-out crowd of 18,000-plus.

Lomachenko, who knocked down Campbell in the one-sided 11th round and nearly stopped him, won 119-108, 119-108 and 118-109. ESPN scored the fight 117-110 for Lomachenko, a dazzling performer now with another significant victory on his résumé.

“Loma is up there with Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao. He belongs with those fighters,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who promoted each of those legends, said of the two-time Olympic gold medalist many consider the greatest amateur of all time and now the class of professional boxing.

Lomachenko now needs only the fourth belt to become the undisputed champion and is expected to get the opportunity in his next fight in the first part of 2020 against the winner of a fight between world titlist Richard Commey and mandatory challenger Teofimo Lopez Jr., who probably will meet on Dec. 14 in New York on ESPN.

First, Lomachenko, 31, of Ukraine, who has also won world titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, had to deal with Campbell, a fellow southpaw with a height and a reach advantage. But Lomachenko dismissed Campbell, the second Brit in a row he has defeated after destroying Anthony Crolla, a former world titleholder, by easy fourth-round knockout in April in Los Angeles.

“Maybe it’s a lucky place for me. I like it,” Lomachenko said of London, where he won his Olympic gold medal in 2012. “Of course, I’m happy. In U.K., fans are the best fans in the world. Thank you. I appreciate it. Of course, I want to fight [for the fourth belt]. Of course, I want to fight with [Commey-Lopez winner]. I want to fight with Teofimo Lopez, but I do not think he will win this fight [against Commey].”

Campbell, who was taken to the hospital after the fight for precautionary reasons, was classy despite the disappointment of losing his second opportunity to win a world title.

“He just beat me, so he’s very good,” Campbell said. “He’s a special fighter, and we all knew he was a special fighter. This is boxing, and we train to win. Obviously, I’m disappointed in myself for not getting the victory. Tonight was Lomachenko’s night, and my time will come.”

Shane McGuigan, Campbell’s trainer, also heaped praise on Lomachenko.

“It’s hard to prepare for him. Luke did himself proud tonight. He boxed a once-in-a-lifetime fighter,” McGuigan said.

The fight began at a measured pace with Lomachenko and Campbell trying to see what the other had. Campbell landed a nice left hand to the head in the closing seconds of the first round, but he would struggle to win rounds thereafter.

Lomachenko began to establish his jab in the second round and also nailed Campbell with a left hand in the final seconds. In the third round, Lomachenko, poised as ever, began to pick up the pace and unleashed a hard straight left hand that caught Campbell cleanly and snapped his head back. Lomachenko fired off several jabs that also landed.

Lomachenko continued to land his jab, jumping in with it and snapping back Campbell’s head in the fourth round as well as landing body punches, although Campbell stood his ground and fired back.

Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), making his third title defense, had a strong fifth round. He was stalking forward and eventually nailed Campbell with a clean straight left hand late in the round. Campbell was clearly hurt, and Lomachenko followed up with several powerful body shots that had Campbell in trouble as the bell sounded.

The seventh round featured wild action with Campbell hurting Lomachenko with a left hand, but his success was brief. Lomachenko came back strong to rock Campbell with a right hand and then sunk in a series of hard body shots

Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs), 31, of England, was game and continued to give a huge effort, but it was Lomachenko landing the cleaner, harder shots in the ninth round. They continued to go hard after each other in the final rounds with each man having his moments before Lomachenko authoritatively took over in the 11th round.

He pounded Campbell and dropped him to a knee with a brutal right hand to the body followed by a right to the head. Campbell got to his feet but was shaky. Lomachenko was all over him during the follow-up attack, lashing him with punches as Campbell went into survival mode. Overall, Lomachenko outlanded Campbell 44-17 in the 11th round.

Referee Victor Loughlin warned Lomachenko for a low blow in the 12th round but after the warning, Lomachenko again pounded Campbell with so many clean shots that he grabbed on hard to Lomachenko around the waist to keep from going down and wrestled Lomachenko to the mat in another huge Lomachenko round.

Although Campbell had been competitive round to round over the first half of the bout, Lomachenko took over in the second half of the fight.

According to CompuBox statistics, Lomachenko landed 211 of 527 punches (40%) and Campbell landed 131 of 420 (31%). Lomachenko, however, outlanded Campbell 140-73 from the seventh through 12th round, including the huge 11th and 12th rounds.

Campbell was getting his second shot at a lightweight world title. He challenged Jorge Linares for his belt in September 2017 in Inglewood, California, but was knocked down and lost a split decision in an overall competitive fight. Linares would go on to lose the title by 10th-round knockout to Lomachenko two fights later in May 2018.

Campbell won three fights in a row after losing to Linares to earn a mandatory shot at Mikey Garcia, but when Garcia vacated, Lomachenko was given the opportunity to face him for the vacant WBC title in addition to putting his WBO and WBA belts on the line.

Now Lomachenko has three of the four major belts and will aim to become the fifth man to win all of them in the four-belt era. He hopes to join cruiserweight and close friend Oleksandr Usyk (2018), who was ringside; junior welterweight Terence Crawford (2017); and middleweights Jermain Taylor (2005) and Bernard Hopkins (2004).

Arum, the promoter of Commey-Lopez, plans to match the winner with Lomachenko.

“Obviously, we’re looking to win the fourth belt to unify the title,” Arum said. “But Loma and [manager] Egis [Klimas] have told [us] they can’t wait to come back to the U.K. to fight here again. The English fight fans are the best fans in the world.

Luke Campbell didn’t disgrace himself. He fought a hell of fight. He’s a hell of a fighter. Big, big heart, and Luke will be back. [Lomachenko] will fight the best fighters at featherweight, [junior lightweight] or lightweight. Only the best. He’s a special, special fighter.”

Lomachenko-Campbell undercard: Povetkin outpoints Fury for unanimous decision

Heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin was offered the opportunity to challenge lineal champion Tyson Fury on Sept. 14, but he turned down the fight and instead took a bout for less money and less prestige against Hughie Fury, Tyson’s first cousin.

Who knows what would have happened had Povetkin faced Tyson Fury, but he did the job against Hughie Fury, winning a unanimous decision in a fight that did little to please the crowd in the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Luke Campbell co-feature on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.

All three judges scored the fight 117-111 for Povetkin, who remained in the hunt for another shot at a world title. It was sloppy fight in which neither man did much damage or let his hands go, but Povetkin was more consistent as he won in his return from an 11-month layoff following a highlight-reel seventh-round knockout loss challenging then-unified world titleholder Anthony Joshua last September at Wembley Stadium in London.

Povetkin was more aggressive than the awkward Fury (23-3, 13 KOs), 24, of England, who relies more on his technical ability. But he often fell into Povetkin and tried to tie him up in a frustrating fight to watch.

Povetkin (35-2, 24 KOs), 39, a 2004 Russian Olympic gold medalist with two failed drug tests for performance-enhancing drugs on his checkered résumé, opened a cut over Fury’s left eye in the ninth round.

Both appeared very tired by the time the fight reached its second half. In the 11th round Fury mustered the energy to land a clean right hand that buzzed Povetkin and forced him to hold on, but he rarely landed punches in combination. Neither showed much urgency in the 12th round, in which there was more holding than punching before the disappointing fight came to an end.

According to CompuBox statistics, Povetkin landed 105 of 390 punches (27 percent) and Fury connected with just 82 of 296 (28 percent). Fury never landed double-digit punches in any round, landing only as many as nine in the seventh round.

Fury, in his first fight since signing with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, saw the end of his two-fight winning streak against lesser opposition since a decision loss to Kubrat Pulev in a world title eliminator in October. Fury’s only other loss had come by majority decision challenging then-world titlist Joseph Parker in 2017.

Edwards keeps flyweight title via no contest

Julio Cesar Martinez dominated Charlie Edwards in what was initially ruled a third-round knockout victory that gave him the WBC flyweight title, but the result was changed to a no contest minutes later because Martinez had hit Edwards while he was down.

Officially, Edwards (15-1, 6 KOs), 26, of England, retained his title for the second time, but not without controversy. Martinez, the mandatory challenger, came to Edwards’ home turf and dominated before the controversial ending. He was busy from the outset as he attacked Edwards, who was a stationary target.

In the third round, Martinez continued his attack and forced Edwards back with an unrelenting body attack to go with uppercuts and head shots before finally dropping him to a knee with a left hook. Martinez landed another shot to his body while Edwards had his knee on the mat, but referee Mark Lyson did not call the foul and counted Edwards out at 1 minute, 43 seconds.

But even though the British Boxing Board of Control does not employ the use of replay, the replay was shown over and over on the big screens in the arena, and was seen by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman, who was in attendance.

The WBC uses replay and Sulaiman ordered the result be changed to a no contest, which the British Board of Boxing Control apparently went along with even though the sanctioning body normally would have no say in the matter in a fight in the United Kingdom.

“He did hurt me, which is why I went to take a knee,” Edwards said. “The shot on the floor absolutely finished me. I’ve never felt a shot like that and it was while I was on the floor, relaxed, trying to recover. It took the complete wind out of me. Watching that back and seeing how dirty that was I’ve got to thank the WBC for sticking by the rules. Would I give him a rematch? Yes.”

Martinez was disappointed by the change of the result after having been initially announced as the new titleholder and celebrating in the ring.

“I hurt him and he didn’t go straight down,” he said through an interpreter. “He took a knee but he did it in steps and I think I got him before the referee stepped between us. Once I hit while he was on his way down I feel that’s when the referee stepped in and I stopped hitting him. But I sensed he felt how hard I punch and he didn’t want to continue.” Martinez (14-1, 11 KOs), 24, of Mexico, said he wants a rematch and likely will get one because Sulaiman said the WBC will order an immediate one. The WBC president also addressed the change of result.

“There is evidence on the video,” Sulaiman said. “The WBC instant replay is in effect. So the WBC has determined there’s going to be an immediate rematch ordered. Can you imagine the feeling of both fighters? [Martinez] thinks he just became champion. Now he’s going back not as a champion. [Edwards] felt he was hit while he was down. This is boxing. I believe in instant replay and we will abide by that. 18,000 people [in the arena] and millions around the world are watching that replay.”

Buatsi knocks out Ford

Light heavyweight up-and-comer Joshua Buatsi, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist for Great Britain, had a goal against former MMA fighter Ryan Ford: to become the first boxer to stop him.

Buatsi (12-0, 10 KOs), 26, of England, achieved his goal in a dominating seventh-round knockout to retain his regional belt against Ford, who took many hard, clean punches before finally hitting the canvas.

Buatsi, the younger, fresher, stronger man, took a few clean shots of his own — his defense is a bit porous — but he showed a good chin against the experienced Ford (16-5, 11 KOs), 37, of Canada, who had faced notable opponents such as Avni Yildirim and Fedor Chudinov.

The fight looked like it would surely go the 10-round distance but then Buatsi closed the show out of nowhere in the seventh round. He landed multiple right hands to force Ford back and then nailed him with a debilitating right hand to the body followed by a right to the head that dropped Ford to all fours, where he took the full count from referee Bob Williams at 1 minute, 7 seconds.

Buatsi, who stopped battle-tested former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban in the fourth round on June 1 in New York on the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Anthony Joshua undercard, notched his seventh knockout in a row.

Cordina outpoints Gwynne

In an all-Welsh showdown, Joe Cordina, a 2016 Olympian for Great Britain, retained his British and Commonwealth lightweight titles by unanimous decision in a hard-fought scrap with Gavin Gwynne. The judges scored the fight 116-110, 116-110 and 116-111.

Cordina (10-0, 7 KOs), 27, who retained the Commonwealth title for the second time and the British title for the first time, took control from the outset. He found a home for his jab time and again and threw Gwynne (11-1, 1 KO), 29, off with his effective head and body movement.

The more aggressive and taller Gwynne, who was in his first scheduled 12-round fight, landed occasional right hands and tried to press the action but spent long stretches of the fight trying to figure out the cagier and quicker counter-punching Cordina, who went 12 rounds for the second time.

Referee John Latham was busy because both fighters engaged in dirty tactics. He took a point from Cordina for a low blow in the seventh round and a point from Gwynne for punching behind the head in the ninth round, in which he also landed perhaps his best punch of the fight — a clean right uppercut that rocked Cordina.

Cordina was in control but let his hands fly in the 12th round in an effort to score the knockout. He landed hard shots to the head and body but Gwynne continued to come forward as they closed out the fight exchanging punches.

Marshall wins easily

Super middleweight Savannah Marshall, Great Britain’s first female amateur world champion and a 2012 and 2016 Olympian, knocked out Daniele Basteri (2-1, 2 KOs), 29, of Brazil, at the bell, ending the fifth round of their scheduled eight-round fight.

Marshall (7-0, 5 KOs), 28, who made her pro debut on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard in August 2017 and is trained by Peter Fury (Tyson Fury’s uncle), dominated the fight.

She bloodied Basteri’s nose in the third round, rocked her with a hard straight right hand in the fourth round and then dropped her to one knee with a combination that was culminated by a stiff right hand late in the fifth round. Referee Bob Williams began to count but then waved off the fight just as the bell was ringing to end the round.

During her amateur career, Marshall handed undisputed women’s middleweight champion Claressa Shields the only loss of her storied amateur career in which she was 77-1 and won two Olympic gold medals. A pro rematch could be in the offing down the road.




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