Lomachenko v Campbell: Loma leading Ukraine's golden generation

By Sports Desk August 29, 2019

Seven years on from his 2012 Olympic triumph at ExCeL London, Luke Campbell will attempt to unseat pound-for-pound superstar Vasyl Lomachenko on the other side of the River Thames at the O2 Arena.

The former location will forever be synonymous with British boxing's golden fortnight, as Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams and Campbell scaled the top step of the podium.

But Lomachenko also harbours fond memories of England's capital, having starred alongside a sensational crop of compatriots who matched Britain's five-medal haul.

Here, we look at what Ukraine's esteemed class of 2012 have gone on to achieve.

VASYL LOMACHENKO

After sealing lightweight gold in London to go with the featherweight title he claimed at Beijing 2008, Lomachenko concluded a scarcely credible amateur record of 396-1 by blazing a trail through the AIBA World Series of Boxing.

The unfamiliar sensation of not having his hand raised returned in Lomachenko's second professional bout. Incredibly, it was a world-title bid where he was rough-housed to a split decision loss against Orlando Salido – the only loss suffered by any of Ukraine's 2012 medallists.

Not that it prompted a backwards step. Lomachenko saw off Gary Russell Jr next time out to win the vacant WBO featherweight crown. That was the first of his world titles across three weight divisions and, heading into the 15th bout of his professional career, Lomachenko is positioning himself to be considered among the all-time greats.

OLEKSANDR USYK

A London 2012 gold medallist at heavyweight and 335-15 as an amateur, Usyk's professional career is another to have taken place in fast forward. He outpointed the previously undefeated Krzysztof Glowacki in his 10th bout to win the WBO cruiserweight title. Murat Gassiev's "0" was also taken by the masterful southpaw in a one-sided World Boxing Super Series final that unified the four major titles at 200 lbs.

Usyk underlined his status as cruiserweight king by comprehensively stopping Tony Bellew in eight last November and his entry into a red-hot heavyweight division, although delayed by a bicep injury, is keenly anticipated.

OLEKSANDR GVOZDYK

Lomachenko and Usyk were in Quebec cheering on their friend as he became a world champion at a relative snail's pace. Gvozdyk 16th bout brought a brutal 11th-round knockout of long-reigning WBC light-heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson – a triumph soon cloaked in sadness as the veteran Canadian, who has since made remarkable progress in his long-term recovery, required emergency brain surgery.

Gvozdyk made it 14 KOs from 17 outings when he stopped Doudou Ngumbu in his first defence earlier this year and a mouth-watering showdown with IBF champion Artur Beterbiev in October could make the Olympic bronze medallist boxing's latest Ukrainian superstar.

DENIS BERINCHYK

Berinchyk overcame future Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn at London 2012 before being forced to settle for light-welterweight silver by Cuba's Roniel Iglesias. He turned over later than Lomachenko, Usyk and Gvozdyk – debuting in 2015 – and, as such, is not as far along in his development.

Basing himself in his homeland, Berinchyk has racked up an 11-0 record against opposition not as notable as his now viral ring walks, with a turn as Super Mario before stopping Rosekie Cristobal to retain the WBO international title a particular highlight. Biding his time might be a wise course of action, as he is campaigning in the Lomachenko-dominated lightweight division.

TARAS SHELESTYUK

The oldest of the quintet, Shelestyuk endured 18 months out of the ring amid injury and managerial issues. Winner of bronze in London after being edged out by home favourite Fred Evans in the semi-final, the 33-year-old shed some ring rust against Martin Angel Martinez in March, moving to 17-0 as a professional. The Los Angeles-based southpaw now needs to make up for lost time.

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