Olympic champion Luke Campbell made a dream start to life in the paid ranks with a first-round stoppage of Andy Harris in his home town of Hull late on Saturday night.
Campbell rose to stardom after winning gold in the bantamweight division at London 2012 and has since gone on to become a household favourite after coming third in the ITV show Dancing on Ice. It was back to business on Saturday and –topping the bill at Craven Park – the 25-year-old dropped Harris twice in the opening round of his professional debut before a flurry of punches forced the referee to stop the action after just 88 seconds.
Campbell said: “Having my first professional fight, outdoors, in my home town at a packed-out stadium and winning by stoppage in the first round, what more could you ask for? I just kept calm. Through the experience I got at the Olympics, walking out to 10,000 people chanting your name, I took that into this and I knew it would be similar. So I had to stay calm and relax. All these people are here for us. They’re here to support us so [I wanted to] use them to our advantage.”
It was a short but sweet ending for Campbell, who may have wished Harris had proved a sterner test.
He was given a predictably rapturous ovation as he entered the ring against an opponent who had lost five of his previous seven professional outings.
The East Yorkshire fighter revealed he was not nervous in the build-up to this lightweight fight and any he may have had in the final few minutes certainly did not show. Watched by fellow London 2012 champion Anthony Joshua, who is yet to decide if his own future lies in the professional ranks, Campbell came out all guns blazing.
Harris was dropped with a short left hand inside the opening minute, while another barrage had him down seconds later. The bout was scheduled to last six rounds but it did not get past the midway point of the first as another speedy flurry forced the referee to wave the contest off.
The likeable Campbell admitted he was going into the unknown tonight in front of a packed Craven Park and is keen to take his career one step at a time. “It was my first fight so it’s going into a different environment. No headguards, I was doing six rounds which I trained hard for,” he added. “Each fight I’ll learn a little bit for the next one.”
On the undercard, Kell Brook made amends for his first performance against Carson Jones with an emphatic eighth-round stoppage of the American in their re-match.
The unbeaten Sheffield fighter stretched his record to 30 wins from as many fights and re-ignited his world title hopes after seeing three fights with IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander postponed.
Brook, who was given a razor-thin majority decision verdict when he first met Jones 12 months ago, was fighting for the first time since October last year but showed no signs of ring rust by dropping Jones in the second before the referee ended the bout, which was being fought at a few pounds above the welterweight division, in the eighth.
“I thought it was an okay performance,” Brook said. “I just planned on coming here tonight and having some fun, because I haven’t boxed for a while, get some cobwebs off me.”
Campbell’s fellow Olympian Anthony Ogogo was also victorious, stopping Gary Boulden in the fifth of six rounds.
Lee Selby won the WBC International featherweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Romania’s Viorel Simion, while Derry Mathews claimed the vacant Commonwealth crown after stopping home favourite Tommy Coyle in the 10th round.