Eddie Hearn snuck in a surprise bout on the Tony Bellew vs David Haye 2 card at the eleventh hour to hand former Olympic gold medalist star Luke Campbell a return after eight months away from the ring. Campbell (17-2-0) will be facing 34-year-old Troy James (20-5-1, 5 KOs) on the undercard in a fight which is not expected to be televised in the UK.
30-year-old Campbell hasn’t graced the ring since September 2017 when he lost to Jorge Linares on a narrow points decision. Through putting on a strong performance and dominating Linares over a substantial number of rounds, the defeat did little damage to the southpaw ‘s boxing stock. If anything, it compounded Campbell’s reputation as an elite fighter and future champion within the lightweight division.
Eight months later and he steps into the ring in a match-up that many would argue is a welcome back gift to help Campbell warm up for the bigger prizes down the line. No one is questioning James’ boxing ability, however, his three losses in his last five fights suggests the two fighters are a class apart. James has racked up 20 wins to his name but only five of those have finished by KO. The Coventry born fighter may go by the name of “Terrifying” but with stats like those it’s hard to take him being anything but fodder for Campbell seriously. Giving away weight as a featherweight is another factor that puts James at long odds for the win.
All the signs point to Campbell rolling past James in this weekend’s encounter to line up a grudge match against old-time foe, Yvan Mendy who is the current #1 WBC contender. Mendy (40-4-1) stands between Campbell and a shot at the lightweight title which is locked up safely inside Mikey Garcia’s trophy cabinet. Had Garcia vacated the belt as was his original plan, then Campbell and Mendy would have fought for the title.
Campbell lost to Mendy in a tight decision back in 2015 so third potential match-up has a particular narrative to it beyond chasing silverware. The Yorkshire boxing starlet has reinvigorated his career since then and many critics believe he truly has the upper hand this time around.
Luke Campbell vs. Troy James Prediction
Sorry Troy, but this fight has Luke Campbell’s name written all over it. We’re expecting a flash of hands to land and put down James inside the early rounds. There’s no reward in this for Campbell to go the distance; it’s his time to make a statement and remind the lightweight division he’s here to stay. The bookmakers are being coy on this event but you’ll be hard pressed to find decent odds for a Campbell victory.