Danny Flexen ranks the top 6 fights on the big O2 boxing show headlined by Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Luke Campbell
Both Olympic gold medallists – one a double champ – and two of the five best lightweights in the world. A boxing genius in Lomachenko who won world titles at three weights within just 12 fights. And a challenger in Campbell who appears to be in his prime under Shane McGuigan and has avenged one of only two pro defeats, both close. Also, the chance to see one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today, in England. The only thing keeping this from top marks is that most observers make Campbell a significant underdog, as would be the case for any lightweight opposing Lomachenko.
Hughie Fury vs Alexander Povetkin
Ranking within context, this is the best fight on the card. The world-class veteran and former world champion against the young but experienced contender with high-level aspirations. Povetkin may not be quite at his peak but showed against Anthony Joshua last year he still has much to offer and has apparently prepared diligently for this. Fury has fallen only to top-flight operators Joseph Parker (contentious) and Kubrat Pulev (in Bulgaria) and is willing, seemingly, to face anyone. It also pits a compact aggressor versus a rangy, back-foot stylist.
Charlie Edwards vs Julio Cesar Martinez
As mandatory defences go, this is more dangerous than most for WBC flyweight champion Edwards. Martinez crushed the favoured Andrew Selby in their March final eliminator and looked good but that was a big step up in class and this will be his first pro fight outside Mexico. Edwards is a classy belt-holder growing into the role and has to be tipped to come through some hairy moments to retain.
Joe Cordina vs Gavin Gwynne
This gets a rankings bonus for being a ‘Battle of Wales’, a nice domestic dispute for Cordina’s British lightweight title. As trainer Tony Sims pointed out last week, former amateur star Cordina looks a class above most British opposition, but Gwynne is tall, aggressive and unbeaten. National pride will give him added impetus but, having fought just one adversary with a winning record, this looks a leap too far.
Joshua Buatsi vs Ryan Ford
This is a little disappointing, given light-heavyweight Buatsi is one of the hottest prospects in world boxing and destroyed former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban in June. 16-4 Canadian Ford is durable and the hope, presumably, is to give Buatsi rounds and a showcase. I expect only one of the two.
James Tennyson vs Atif Shafiq
Only announced this week, but presumably agreed for some time. Tennyson has won a pair of fights since moving up to lightweight after dropping an IBF super-feather title shot to Tevin Farmer. He is eager to get back to world level. Shafiq has been a slow burner and only really has one notable victory but is talented and has nothing to lose here.
Total: 20/30 but the big marks are weighted towards the top end of the card, as it should be for pay-per-view events.