Joshua vs Povetkin undercard: Okolie foul-fest dampens card

Luke Campbell defeated Yvan Mendy at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening, avenging an early career defeat in the process.

Campbell had learned the lessons from his 2015 upset loss to the marauding Frenchman and managed to mix the right blend of movement with standing and trading.

Southpaw Campbell now trains with Shane McGuigan and looked composed and comfortable throughout. Mendy attempted to find the same right hand that had garnered him so much success in the first fight. This time “Cool Hand” Luke refused to stand still and take them flush. The wide scores resembled the disparity in quality work between the pair.

Campbell’s win elevated him closer to a crack at the WBC 135-pound title, currently held by the excellent Mikey Garcia. Garcia is expected to vacate the title and Campbell will box a ratings contender, likely to be Richard Commey, for a vacant world title opportunity.

At least the main event delivered the goods, as it had been a torrid night up until the headliner. Credit to the thousands of fans who braved the elements and got increasingly wetter as the support bouts meandered by.

In an undercard foul-fest, Lawrence Okolie outpointed Matty Askin to add the Blackpool man’s British cruiserweight title to his own Commonwealth strap. Referee Victor Loughlin deducted three points in total from Okolie, 25, who spent the evening holding and mauling. His style was resemblant of spidery heavyweight Henry Akinwande, and the styles failed to mesh. Askin tried hard but was unable to land any meaningful blows (the odd low one aside) and became tired and understandably frustrated.

Such a big opportunity on the undercard of a Joshua PPV is not easy to come by, and the TV producers and matchmakers may think twice in future about giving Okolie such exposure. The Londoner consistently put Askin in a straightjacket whenever the pair went close. The judges handed in scores of 114-113 (Steve Gray), 116-110 (Howard Foster) and 114-112 (Ian John Lewis). Former world champion Carl Froch scored it 115-111 to Okolie from ringside.

Heavyweight prospect Sergey Kuzmin improved his record to 13-0 when David Price retired at the end of the fourth round citing a bicep injury. Big-punching Price had brief moments of success, particularly with the right uppercut, but was weakened by Kuzmin’s body assaults.

Brooklyn-based Uzbek, Shakhram Giyasov, knocked out Nicaragua’s Julio Laguna in round four of their six-rounder. Laguna came in at 14-0 with ten knockouts but had not fought anyone of note, and welterweight Giyasov ended the southpaw’s evening early.

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