'Eat, sleep and train': Luke Campbell interview

Luke Byron
30/08/2017 6:25am

From his training camp in Miami, Luke Campbell tells Luke Byron that he is fully focused and training hard ahead of his showdown with Venezuelan lightweight world champion Jorge Linares ...

On 23 September Venezuelan lightweight champion Jorge Linares will attempt to beat the third Englishman of his career when he takes on Hull's 2012 Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell at the Forum in Inglewood, California.

For Campbell, basing his training in Miami couldn’t have gone much better – since losing to Yvan Mendy in December 2015, he’s embarked on a run of five successive victories, four of them coming by way of stoppage.

Now training with Cuban Jorge Rubio, Campbell says that it’s easy to stay locked on the task at hand in Florida.

"There is literally nothing else to focus on but boxing," he told Boxing Monthly. "We literally eat, sleep and train – that’s it. There’s no distractions, there’s nothing but the gym."

We’ve seen a number of Olympic turnovers recently, and I asked Campbell to look back to when he first turned pro, and whether he felt additional pressure due to his reputation as a gold medallist. "Possibly, you could say that yeah," he replied. "[Although] I was the one putting the pressure on by achieving what I did. There are different ways of looking at pressure, it’s a privilege really."

Following his Olympics success, it has always felt like a case of ‘when’ Campbell would win a world title, as opposed to ‘if’. I wondered if he felt the same way. "I’ve never really expected anything," he countered. "Everything that I’ve achieved and done has been down to dedication, hard work and discipline. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a world champion, but it’s the same thing as always, I’m working hard and pushing my body to the limit to achieve my goal."

Looking ahead to the fight with Linares, Campbell says he’s pleased to be getting in there with arguably the best boxer in the lightweight division. "I’ve never done things the easy way in boxing and I won’t start now," he emphasised. "I’m going across the water to his back yard, it’s not an easy task but I’ll go in there confident."

Although now scheduled to take place in California, at one point to looked likely that the fight might take place in Hull, particularly after Linares had previously travelled to London to face Kevin Mitchell and to Manchester twice to defeat Anthony Crolla.

"The first talks were for September in my home city at the KC stadium which would’ve been a dream come true," Campbell revealed, before explaining: "A few different things happened down the line and sometimes things change; this opportunity came up, Linares was given the opportunity by HBO and I’m excited for the opportunity."

Prior to the Linares fight being confirmed, it was also rumoured that a deal was in the works for Campbell to challenge for countryman Terry Flanagan’s WBO title. Responding to this speculation, Campbell explained: "The Flanagan fight popped up at the beginning of the year, but the contract that Frank Warren sent across to me was atrocious. It wasn’t even worth thinking about. I’ll go and beat Linares and then it would be great to unify."

‘Cool Hand Luke’ also somewhat surprisingly revealed that he has never actually seen the two fights that Linares had against  Crolla, but emphasised: "I’m just expecting the best Linares on the night. He’s a brilliant fighter as everyone knows."

The fight will be shown live on Sky Sports in the early hours of 24 September and Campbell will need to put in a career best performance to rip the belt away from the accomplished champion and return to England for some potentially huge domestic fights.