'I'd love a dust-up with Crolla': Luke Campbell interview
Luke Campbell speaks to Shaun Brown about his recent clash with Jorge Linares and his desire to fight Anthony Crolla, as well as his view of this weekend's Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux showdown...
Luke Campbell MBE may have one eye on a rematch with Jorge Linares but the British lightweight is also keen on having a domestic clash with Matchroom stablemate Anthony Crolla.
Crolla (32-6-3, 13 KOs) and Campbell (17-2, 14 KOs) both took up the full extent of Linares' schedule in 2017 with each man taking the WBA champion the distance in March and September. While Crolla had a rematch with the Venezuelan, and took part in his fifth world title fight in the process, after the pair met in September 2016, it was a first-time world title challenge for Campbell.
"I'd love a U.K dust-up Anthony Crolla. That's a great fight. Why ain't that getting made? I want the fight," Campbell firmly told Boxing Monthly.
"I mentioned it to [promoter] Eddie [Hearn]... well Eddie mentioned it to me and I said: 'Sure, it sounds like a great match-up'. He's got a good fan base, I've got a good fan base. It's a great domestic fight for U.K. boxing fans but I ain't heard much about it."
The 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist described his 2017 inside the ring as 'successful' with three fights, two wins - one at Wembley stadium - and that encouraging performance in his split decision loss to Linares.
Campbell went into the fight as the underdog, and knowing that the night was something of a showcase for the champion. While he came up just short, the 30-year-old walked away with his reputation enhanced in more ways than one.
"I always knew I had heart and toughness, but no-one ever seen it before and I think it's the first time they seen there's more to me than meets the eye," Campbell said.
The heart and toughness was called on throughout the fight in the physical sense as well as the mental. Recovering from a knockdown in round two, as well as a cut, the challenger pushed the champion all the way over 12 rounds despite carrying a substantial weight upon his shoulders.
Two weeks prior to the fight Campbell's father, Bernard, passed away after a long-term illness. It was, as you would imagine, the toughest night of Campbell's career against Linares but in defeat and loss he has gained something which will make him an even tougher nut to crack next year and beyond.
"Mentally I really grew from that fight," he explained. "The people I had around me in the build-up to that camp: Stevie Smith who I brought over with me, and I had a couple of friends with me during camp and stuff like that. They kept me in a very good place.
"So, mentally going into that fight I was good considering everything else that was going on. I had to keep strong in my mind to achieve what I did, so that was a real tough battle for me.
"I thought I won the fight and put on a good show considering everything else that was going on around me mentally. I think I was a good credit to myself, my family and my dad
"There was quite a lot of things in the build-up to the fight, especially in the last 3-4 weeks. There was things happening all the time and I just thought 'Wow I'm being tested here, someone's testing me mentally' because there was all sorts of things going on, I just thought 'Bloody hell I'm really getting tested here'. I had to focus and think about one thing and channel my mind, you could say.
"What saddens me the most was my dad said he wasn't going anywhere till I won a world title and unfortunately it didn't work out like that. But I felt closer to him, like he joined me on the journey and that was the only thing that kept me going."
Campbell forgot everything on the night and got on with the job. A credit that goes to every fighter who steps through the ring with problems in their personal life, and even more so when they have suffered the loss of a loved one.
Moving forward Campbell is planning to use everything he has learned to his advantage. He may be 30... "I'm a young 30, trust me'"... but he has had just the 19 pro fights- the sort of A number normally associated with twenty-somethings who are nearing that coveted title shot either domestically or internationally.
"I feel like I'm still on the road of learning. I'm still a young pup but at the end of the day I will take on anyone.
"2018 is where people are going to see what I'm about. I believe that fight [against Linares] was the start of a new beginning for me. The start of something very good."
A roadblock may come in the form of boxing's equivalent of 'The Matrix' - Vasyl Lomachenko. The exquisitely talented Ukrainian looks likely to step up to 135lbs next year, but in the meantime he will put his gargantuan reputation on the line on Saturday night against a man who may just be his equal - Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Despite the Cuban having to climb two weight classes to challenge the WBO Super Featherweight champion, it is a fight that has excited the purists as well as the masses of boxing fans around the world. Two men at the top of their craft and Campbell can't wait to see how it unfolds.
"I'm excited for this fight. For me you've got two of the best pound-for-pound fighters going against each other," he began.
"I feel Rigondeaux has more one-punch knockout power. Lomachenko breaks his opponents down, he doesn't knock them in one shot. I just think it's going to be a cracking fight. I just worry if the weight is going to be too much for Rigo.
"I feel like saying Rigo but Lomachenko is unbelievable too. It's a hard one. I don't know what to say, even with the weight advantage I'm going to call it 45-55 in Lomachenko's way. It'd be 50-50 if it weren't a weight thing."