Luke Campbell and Hughie Fury: Plenty of positives in double British defeat

Liam Happe
Luke Campbell

One week ago, two of Britain’s lesser-heralded world title contenders received their cracks at the gold. They both came up short.

Luke Campbell, winner of bantamweight gold at the London 2012 Olympics, lost his maiden challenge of a world champion to WBA lightweight king Jorge Linares via split decision.

Hours before that fight in California, Hughie Fury – cousin of Tyson Fury and also a heavyweight – endured his first professional defeat in a controversial majority decision loss to WBO champion Joseph Parker.

Truth be told, both men bolstered their reputations despite not leaving the ring with the belts around their waists.

Campbell’s professional armour had been dented once before, versus Yvan Mendy back in December 2015. Rather than allow the loss to affect his confidence amid doubts that Luke could indeed go all the way amid great fanfare from promoters Matchroom, he strung together another five wins in a row to earn his world title opportunity.

After Linares had comprehensively defeated Anthony Crolla on two occasions, many wondered if the underappreciated and very talented champion would make it a third schooling of English opposition.

However, Campbell pushed the Venezuelan all the way and if Crolla was deemed to have done enough for a second attempt, the Hull fighter certainly deserves a rematch as well.

What was even more incredible about the performance was that Campbell has since revealed he was secretly mourning the death of his father, who lost his battle with cancer only two weeks before the bout.

Bernard Campbell had been battling the killer disease since 2014 and passed away at home in Hull earlier this month, aged just 58.

“I probably cried once a day. I had to try and shut feelings off. After the fight I had a good cry,” Campbell told BBC Sport.

“If someone had found out I would have denied it. I didn’t want Linares’ camp thinking it was a weakness. I didn’t want them thinking I was hurt.

“The only thing that kept me going is I know what my dad would have wanted for me. To fight and to win.”

Hughie Fury

Fury’s bout versus Parker was less fun to watch. In fact, although opinions have varied on how the fight should have been scored, most agreed that neither boxer would end up unifying a division that finds itself up for grabs for the first time in over a decade following the dethroning and then retirement of Wladimir Klitschko.

Of course, all that matters to the Fury camp is how the three ringside judges were able to declare Parker the victor.

Fury’s promoter Mick Hennessy branded the result “disgraceful”.

“I had Hughie clearly winning the fight,” he said. “I thought it was a masterclass and I thought he boxed his ears off.

“It was clean boxing. I probably gave Parker two clear rounds but other than that I think he was punching elbows and arms and nine times out of 10 he was missing — punching fresh air.”

On the scorecards, he added: “I think they’re disgusting and they need to be struck off. I think there are agendas here and I don’t know where they’re coming from but we plan to find out. It’s all wrong.”

Both of those bouts left me confident that both men will be world champions one day. And if they each want more than that, they’ll need to learn from that first failed title tilt – because it’s fair to say both Campbell and Hughie need a little more polish before we can agree with the hype of the first few years of their respective careers.

 

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