The Monday Matchmaker: Lomachenko, Campbell & more

Tom Craze
02/09/2019 2:28pm

Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

As the dust settles on each big fight weekend, The Monday Matchmaker aims to discuss the best options that, in victory or defeat, each boxer has available to them, and predicts their likely next steps... This week Tom Craze on Vasiliy Lomachenko, Luke Campbell, Charlie Edwards and Hughie Fury among others...

Vasiliy Lomachenko
The brilliant Ukrainian, so impressive at the O2, now has a singular focus: to claim the one remaining belt at 135lbs not already in his possession.

That title is the IBF variant held by Richard Commey, with the Ghanaian already mandated to make the second defence of his strap against the livewire Teofimo Lopez later this year. Pairing the winner against Lomachenko for the honour of undisputed champion is a straightforward, logical decision and, what’s more, it’ll likely be an easy fight to make.

Nonetheless, with Commey vs Lopez likely to land in December, Lomachenko now faces a waiting game, and might well be forced to look elsewhere in the interim. The name of Miguel Berchelt, the WBC titlist at super-featherweight, has been floated, and though Lomachenko would be an overwhelming favourite, it’s a fun style match-up for as long as it lasts.

Luke Campbell
Even in defeat, the Hull man delivered a career-best performance. Campbell was excellent for much of the bout, both forcing the action and setting traps to contain the danger posed by the pound-for-pound number one for stretches. While it wasn’t enough to win the fight – and in truth, Campbell never really looked like doing so – he emerges with immense credit and increased stock.

On the available evidence, Campbell is quite clearly ready for further attempts at world level. The fly in the ointment is that, with Lomachenko on a quest to unify all four belts, the fragmentation of the title picture necessary to open up a new route for the Brit feels some way off.

Consolidation, then, should be the next goal, and it’s worth noting that Campbell’s best win is against  Yvon Mendy, a man more readily associated with the European title than anything further north of that. He does, however, have options: having headlined at the O2, it’s quite possible he could now be built into a main-event attraction on these shores, but another appearance in the US to build on the goodwill acquired with that audience could be more logical, given the present state of the division.

A meeting with promotional stablemate Devin Haney is arguably one of the best lightweight has to offer without a meaningful belt attached to it, but is unlikely to be risked at this stage. Look for Campbell to rebound against lower-key opposition before launching a fresh assault on the elite. Opting for a name recently seen off by one of his rivals could provide a useful tool for comparison, which brings the likes of the durable Xolisani Ndongeni, outpointed by Haney at the turn of the year, into play.

Charlie Edwards and Julio Cesar Martinez
If all of boxing’s contentious decisions were overturned on the spot, with an immediate rematch ordered, this would often be a very short column indeed.

The catch? 8st is increasingly difficult for Edwards to make. Relinquishing the title he won so memorably would be a wrench, but it would be no surprise to see Martinez pitted against the next in line with the WBC for the vacant belt.

Alexander Povetkin
Povektin celebrates his 40th birthday today and will do so in the knowledge that, even entering his fifth decade, he is very much still in the heavyweight mix.

With his last three fights having all been staged in the UK, the Chekhov native’s Indian summer looks to continue with what would’ve once been a highly unlikely residency. Strategically, it’s been an excellent move, and the working relationship between World of Boxing and Matchroom means the Russian should continue to get high-profile opportunities.

Saturday night saw Povetkin call for a fight with Tyson Fury, in the immediate aftermath of a victory over his cousin, but that’s an idea that can be realistically ruled out. Far more plausible is that Povetkin looks to the winner of Parker vs Chisora, or perhaps Oleksandr Usyk, should he progress past his heavyweight debut in the manner expected. Any combination of the aforementioned would make for an intriguing match-up.

Hughie Fury
Well, where next for Hughie Fury? Saturday night was the third time Fury has jumped from the likes of Sam Sexton, Fred Kassi, and Samuel Peter to world level, or at least its fringes. Saturday night was the third time he’s come up well short.

Fury’s continued progress in the sport feels much like an ongoing experiment. That he’s been willing to gamble against Povetkin, as well as Parker and Pulev before him, is to Fury’s credit, and his defenders will point to the fact that he’s still only 24, and has gone the distance with every man who’s bettered him. All of that is true, as is the following: it’s either change that’s needed, or it’s a more gradual build.

Vacating the British title when he did was a signal of Fury’s ambition but, to this day, Sam Sexton remains his best win. There are good options for him domestically, and now that Fury has signed with Matchroom, a fight with David Price should be both relatively straightforward to make and a useful yardstick.