Campbell beats Mendy but the rest is largely forgettable, writes Tris Dixon from ringside
LUKE CAMPBELL was able to turn the page on the Yvan Mendy chapter of his career after delivering a disciplined performance to outscore the Frenchman.
Mendy, who defeated Campbell via split decision in December 2012, thought he deserved to win again. So did his team. But they were way off.
The Hull southpaw, a 2012 Olympic gold medallist, won by scores of 116112 (Nicolas Esnault), 118-111 (Victor Loughlin) and 119-109 (Crystal Wright) and he was clinical. He used timing, space and distance to frustrate the visitor, who tried to close him down each round but was often speared by firm jabs and a rapid-fire salvo before Campbell pivoted away to safety.
It was great work for Campbell, racking up rounds under new trainer Shane Mcguigan while rectifying a blemish on his record. He had to stay busy to keep the powerful Mendy at bay and he could not afford to let his concentration crack. He did a brilliant job of not giving Mendy an ‘in,’ selecting his shots intelligently, maintaining a variety that did not allow Mendy to set himself. While Campbell was outlanded in some of the rounds Mendy was just not refined enough, or good enough, to do what he wanted or needed to do.
His team legitimately seemed to feel he merited victory and so did the French TV analysts working ringside but that was an astonishing interpretation of the fight because, ultimately, his pressure counted for little. That said, the 119-109 scoreline was particularly uncharitable for his endeavours. It was a final eliminator for Mikey Garcia’s WBC lightweight title and Ian John-lewis refereed.
When the worst fights of the year are shortlisted, Lawrence Okolie’s win over Blackpool’s Matty Askin for the British cruiserweight title will be near the top.
Their clash was widely anticipated but fizzled in the damp Wembley night. It was messy, an ugly maul and Okolie – grabbing hold of Askin to keep him encased in his tentacles – was docked three points for various infractions, including excessive clinching and use of the head in rounds five, eight and 11.
Yet because he smothered Askin so much, Matty could not get anything going and so, despite the deductions and despite not ‘ripping the champion’s title away’, Hackney’s Okolie prevailed.
Scores were 114-112 for Ian Johnlewis, 114-113 for Steve Gray and 116-110.
Askin will feel aggrieved to have lost his belt, but no one will want to see this again. Neither deserved to win and referee Victor Loughlin had the unenviable task of being closer to it than anyone. And he didn’t have the luxury of being able to go for a walk, a snack or even to go to the toilet. Nope, he was in it for the long haul. And boy, did it feel long. Askin tweeted that he would appeal the verdict to the British Boxing Board of Control while Okolie admitted, “I really need to work on this inside game. Winning is important but oh my god, I hated watching that.”
When the short-notice heavyweight attraction between Liverpool giant David Price and unbeaten Russian puncher Sergey Kuzmin was announced many foresaw a violent climax.
Price has been shown to be vulnerable
under heavy fire, which Kuzmin was expected to bring, while the Englishman remains a threat with his vaunted power.
What we actually got was an alternate ending; no knockouts or knockdowns with Price retiring after four rounds citing a bicep injury.
And while his tank seemed to be running low he was more than in the fight and had enjoyed several purple patches that had Kuzmin looking short on ideas and solutions.
Price held his guard tight and high to start with, alert to the danger and quick to jump on any openings. He was looking for his right hand honey punch but as he grew more fatigued he surrendered his height and reach advantages and remained inside more than he should have, having to work harder than he needed. Still, the visitor with the big reputation never unduly troubled Price despite the popular Scouser absorbing some big shots and being marked over and under his left eye. He was withdrawn on his stool after round four and the crowd booed, dissatisfied by not seeing one of the two punchers laid out flat.
They might not have been so harsh had it taken place after Askin-okolie because it was intriguing and stirring while it lasted. Price said he would fight Kuzmin again once his injury has mended. Eyebrows were raised by Shakhram
Giyasov, and a 2016 Olympic silver medallist, in the show-opener after the Uzbek prospect ruined fellow unbeaten
Giyasov did not throw a soft punch all night and there was no let up for the hapless Nicaraguan left-hander.
“He’s spiteful, isn’t he?” whispered Eddie Hearn in admiration.
Giyasov closed the show after 38 seconds of the fourth.
He had just been warned to keep his shots up before breaking through with a right. Then he landed another. Laguna was ‘going’ and Giyasov pounced to produce an exclamation mark knockout that caused referee Kieran Mccann to wave it off immediately.
THE VERDICT The undercard matches the damp and dreary weather.
EXCELLENTLY DONE: Campbell attacks while Mendy stays in his shell
IN PAIN: Price winces as his bicep injury rules him out of the ght
WHAT A MESS: Okolie, eyes closed, clatters his right hand into Askin