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Linares makes Cano lightweight defence with Campbell waiting in wings

Reigning WBC lightweight champion Jorge Linares will take to the ring for his second title defence this weekend against Ivan Cano in his homeland of Venezuela, having stopped mandatory challenger Kevin Mitchell earlier this year.

The three-weight world champion toppled Londoner Mitchell in front of his own British fans in May and now seeks to dispatch Mexican competitor Cano (23-6-2, 15 KOs) in what will be his first fight on home soil since 2010.

Linares has gone unbeaten since being downed by Sergio Thompson in 2012 and has halted six of his last eight opponents since that loss, making the South American champion (39-3, 26 KOs) odds-on 1/25 to successfully defend his strap for a second time.

Boxing - The O2 Arena

Although, waiting in the wings for the impressive 30-year-old is Britain’s 2012 Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell, with the Hull-born lightweight patiently eyeing a showdown with the WBC belt-holder after his December outing.

“Of course he is on the radar,” declared Campbell. “Anyone who’s got a world title belt is on my radar. For me, he is probably the lightweight that stands out in the world boxing the most at the minute. He’s a three-weight world champion.”

The 27-year-old was last in action in August when he downed local rival Tommy Coyle in the 10th round and will compete on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s bout with Dillian Whyte on December 12 against an unnamed opponent.

“I was sat at ringside when he [Linares] boxed Kevin Mitchell. I was gutted for Kevin because I wanted him to win but he put Linares down. It was unfortunate his eye swelled up and he fought half the fight blind – it’s hard enough fighting a good guy with two good eyes,” continued Campbell.

Boxing - Lightweight Bout - Krzysztof Szot v Luke Campbell - Wembley Stadium

“A rematch could be different, it was a cracking fight. It just went the wrong way for me. Kevin is a lovely guy and even though he’s in the same division as me, I want him to do the best he can do.”

Having climbed to eighth in the WBC rankings, Campbell is already eyeing a showdown with the defending world champion Linares, who is 9/1 to lose his strap to Cano on Saturday night, insisting he’s the best possible challenger.

“I believe I’m the best British lightweight around. I’m a fighter and train to be the best. No disrespect to the other guys but if you’re not thinking about yourself, you don’t want to be in the sport of boxing,” claimed Campbell.

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“I don’t try and look into what other fighters are doing. I try to concentrate on myself and compete with myself. My toughest opponent is me. I always try and beat myself.

“This professional boxing lark isn’t easy. It’s a tough sport and to be the best, you’ve got to be able to do it all – fight on the inside, fight long and whatever you do in the ring. You have to be able to do everything against guys with different styles. You’ve got to handle what they bring while doing stuff they can’t handle.”

Campbell will test himself next on the night of fellow Brit Joshua’s heavyweight contest with bitter rival Whyte, who is 8/1 to cause an upset in London, while Venezuela’s impressive lightweight champion Linares aims to continue his rampant run against Cano in front of adoring South American fans this weekend.