Vasyl Lomachenko, pictured May 2019, won by a unanimous decision to add the WBC belt to his WBA and WBO titles in the weightVasyl Lomachenko, pictured May 2019, won by a unanimous decision to add the WBC belt to his WBA and WBO titles in the weight (AFP Photo/AL BELLO)
London (AFP) - Vasyl Lomachenko, widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, beat British challenger Luke Campbell in a thrilling bout to win the vacant WBC lightweight title in London on Saturday.
The 31-year-old Ukrainian, who had been world champion at three different weights in only a 14-bout professional career prior to the fight, won by a unanimous decision to add the WBC belt to his WBA and WBO titles in the weight.
Lomachenko's target is to have all four major belts with Ghana's Richard Commey holding the IBF version.
Lomachenko, whose record reads 14 wins and one defeat, acknowledged the toughness of the bout.
"Of course I'm happy," he told Sky Sports.
"I want to thank everyone who came to support this beautiful fight and of course I'm happy this is my title."
Campbell, who like Lomachenko won Olympic gold in 2012 not far from the O2 Arena where they fought on Saturday, insisted he can still win a world title.
"He's a special fighter," Campbell told Sky Sports.
"I trained to win but it is hard to fight someone like that who adapts so well. He is a special fighter.
"With the support I have had here I can go on and achieve anything. My time will come."
Lomachenko began landing effective punches from the third round, clearly hurting Campbell when he connected with his head in the third and one to the body in the fourth.
- Saved by the bell -
The punishment continued in the fifth with Lomachenko pummelling Campbell's head, who nearly went to the canvas but was saved by the bell as the Ukrainian moved in to finish him off.
Campbell, though, displayed great resilience and, having had a breather between rounds, took the fight to Lomachenko, landing a decent uppercut.
Campbell maintained his momentum in the seventh round and hurt Lomachenko with a powerful body punch and one to the head, but just as the British fans rose to their feet, the champion fought back and landed a flurry of punches.
Both fighters showed no let up in their work-rate through the next three rounds, going toe to toe and keeping the spectators on the edge of their seats.
However, Lomachenko reacted to a good punch from Campbell in the penultimate round by landing one which forced the Briton to go down on a knee and once up, he only just managed to hold on to the bell.
Campbell landed a below-the-belt blow in the final round but Lomachenko brushed that aside and landed a few legal blows of his own without putting the challenger down -- the two exhausted men hugging each other at the end.
The other world title bout on the undercard saw WBC flyweight titleholder Charlie Edwards retain his belt after replays declared it a no contest.
Edwards was knocked out by challenger Julio Cesar Martinez, but although the Mexican celebrated, he had laid one punch on the champion when he was down on a knee and it was ruled a low blow.
"This is the right decision," he told Sky Sports. "I took a knee for a purpose. He finished me off with a body shot and I could not recover.
"Cheaters never prosper. We get in this ring to abide by the rules."
Promoter Eddie Hearn said it was blatantly obvious it was a low blow.
"The shot was not late it was next week," he told Sky Sports.
"It is a blatant low blow."
Alexander Povetkin -- whose last bout in the UK ended with defeat at the hands of Anthony Joshua -- took a step towards another world title tilt by beating Tyson Fury's cousin Hughie by a unanimous decision.