If you can enjoy a sharpshooter standoff between two intelligent, crisp boxers, Jorge Linares vs Luke Campbell Saturday night on HBO hit the damn spot. Linares walked away with the decision victory where a 2nd round knockdown made the difference, literally.
Linares, one of the two top lightweights in the world, got off to a good start and finished strong, trading rounds throughout with Campbell controlling most of the middle. HBO commentators emphasized Campbell’s southpaw stance and size advantage, but he also boxed intelligently, picking his spots well to lead or counter.
For Linares, the straight right was the consistent weapon that won the fight. Campbell did good body work. This writer scored the bout six rounds to six, but a straight right from Linares that decked Campbell and bloodied him gave him the scorecard edge.
It was that way for the judges, too: One scored it 115-113 for Campbell, another 115-112 for Linares and 114-113 for Linares. That knockdown decided it.
Campbell has two losses early in his pro career after an Olympic gold medal campaign as an amateur, but this was as good as a loss gets. Only one complaint — he fought like he took off the 11th round, as though he had the fight won, and he ought to regret it.
In the era of “I’ll fight whoever my promoter tells me to fight,” it was great to hear Linares answer who he wanted next with his very first words: Mikey Garcia. Linares might not hit hard enough to make much of a showing of it, but he has the heart and the skill. It’s about the best fight you’ll find with a heavy favorite. Now if only boxing politics can get out of the way for once.
(Linares, left, Campbell, right; Tom Hogan – Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions)