EXCLUSIVE Interview with Lightweight Champion Nate Campbell
IBF, WBA, and WBO champ Nate The Galaxxy Warrior Campbell is currently in training for a September 13 grudge match against Joan Guzman. Completely focused on unifying the lightweight division, Campbell has promised to take out all the top fighters willing to face him in the ring.
Graciously taking time with me before going out on a late night training run, Nate Campbell in this exclusive Knockout Nation interview talks about his rivals, the politics of boxing, and the one time he didnt want to keep fighting in the ring.
Knockout Nation: Youre now entering your last week of preparation for Joan Guzman, how has your training camp been overall?
Campbell: Its going great, man. I had a good group of guys with me from the trainers on down through the sparring partners. Of course with [trainer] John David Jackson were always doing our thing together.
KN: Theres been a lot of trash talk back and forth between you and Guzman, with him even commenting on your recent marriage and using pictures of your ceremony. Are you taking this fight personally or do you just look at as business since people are speculating his management wrote the releases?
Campbell: Its always personal business with me. I know he hasnt been saying most of the stuff; the people around him are going to do what they do. Its to be expected, its boxing.
KN: Guzman has fast hands but hes prone to brawl and leaves himself open on the inside. Are you banking on taking advantage on the inside or are you looking more so to take the fight outside?
Campbell: Im not worried about what hes gonna do because whatever he does Im going to make it work for me. At this point hes gonna do what hes gonna do and Im gonna do what Im gonna do. At the end of the day, its a fight!
KN: The last couple of years youve made it a habit of taking the 0s away from young, undefeated fighters. Do you think fans and media are prone to overrating fighters with undefeated resumes and not looking at the substance behind the records they bring to the ring?
Campbell: Theyve always overrated guys. I just fight my fight. You are going to have to prove it to me [that you can fight].
KN: Because theyre so many titles and organizations out there, people have begun to look to RING magazine and the linear title to decide who the champ is. Since Golden Boy now owns RING magazine, that can be faulty as well. Talk a little about how the RING title is not the best system especially in your lightweight division.
Campbell: First of all the RING is pissed off at me because I said just because you have the RING belt doesnt make you really the champion. Thats my opinion. It doesnt matter who has [that] belt or doesnt. Im the best lightweight in the world, like it or not. The belt I have doesnt matter.
You want to argue, thats cool. Who has most of the belts?
KN: That would be you.
Campbell: Ok, then.
KN: Do you have a pick for the Katsidis-Diaz fight coming up?
Campbell: I havent stopped to think about that one. [Its] two guys that I dont care about.
KN: Youre a student of boxing history. What do you notice as the biggest difference in boxing now from a few decades ago?
Campbell: The undefeated record makes you a god in the eyes of people today. And all that is just fancy matchmaking. Back in the day you could have losses. Rocky Graziano finished his career at 67-10-6. And hes in the Hall of Fame.
Now, if you have a 0 in your record you must be great. My goal is to show what my experience level is.
KN: Lets go back to the first Robbie Peden fight in 2004. Everyone derided you for dropping your hands and letting him hit you. Did you use that fight as inspiration because it seems like you gained a whole new focus after that bout.
Campbell: It was a great but grave defeat. If it wasnt for that fight, I wouldnt be world champion. I learned from the fight. And with boxing, it is what it is.
KN: Not too many people talk about it anymore but youve referenced your hardest mental fight was against Ricky Quiles. Not because you were being physically pushed, but because it was obvious he had nothing left and was taking a beating round after round. How hard was it to continue doing your job when you knew the man in front of you had nothing left and couldnt defend himself?
Campbell: It was never hard [to keep punching] except for that fight. Before if a guy stopped punching, it would never bother me to keep throwing until there was nothing left.
KN: A lot of experts picked Juan Diaz over you because of your age. However, you always point out that even though youre older you have less wear and tear on you than most young fighters because you started your professional career in your late 20s. Do you feel thats given you an advantage along with your experience over the competition?
Campbell: Thats one specific reason why. They keep making me out to be this old guy when Im not. Ive always taken care of myself in and out of the ring.
KN: If you could change three things in boxing today to improve it, what would those things be?
Campbell: The best should fight the best. I want the networks like NBC to get back in boxing. And fighters should be rewarded for winning fights, not given politics.
KN: You did great commentating on ESPN2 a few weeks back. Is that a possible post-fight career option?
Campbell: Thanks. Definitely, thats one of the things I want to get into after my career is over.
KN: Youve had a tough background growing up dealing with constant relocation due to foster homes. How did you use those experiences in your everyday life and development as a man?
Campbell: Where I come from you learn to believe in yourself and not allow anyone to take anything from you. So when people try to take my respect, I dont think about them. I dont let what people think about me offend me or upset me to the point where I cant do my job. I am who I am because of what Ive been through. Im blessed to be here and thank God for my abilities.
KN: I appreciate your time, Nate. Youre the first boxer interviewed for the column and best of luck this Saturday.
Campbell: Im honored, man. Thanks reaching out for this interview.
Note: Watch Nate Campbell this Saturday September 13 on Showtime against Joan Guzman. Who else do want to see featured here in Knockout Nation? I want to hear from you
Amir Khan Massacred in PPV Bout
Theres nothing like a decisive 1st round knockout, especially when that knockout is an upset destruction of a hyped undefeated fighter. That was the scenario this past Saturday September 6, with unknown Columbian knockout artist Breidis Prescott taking out the hot prospect in less than one minute before stunned UK fans at the M.E.N. Arena.
The fight began with the heavy-handed Prescott swinging for the fences with left hooks and overhand rights. Ironically, the first damaging punch was a jab that wobbled Khan.
Undeterred, Khan kept testing fate by pressing forward and initiating exchanges.
The concern proved correct when Prescott countered Khans left to the body with a sharp left hook to the head.
Khan was shook badly by the shot and dropped like a ton a bricks behind a follow-up right hand and left hook.
Khan rose at two but was on spaghetti legs and in no condition to continue after stumbling back into corner.
However, before the hometown crowd the ref gave Khan the benefit of the doubt and the chance to save his immediate boxing future.
The end came swiftly as Prescott pounced on the disoriented Khan and deposited him in the corner with a savage hook for a clean ten count KO.
I cannot think of a worst possible loss for any fighter, let alone a young one to take. Khan was completely demolished in his backyard on a high-profile PPV.
The loss also echoed the concerns on his local commentators like former champ Barry McGuigan, who felt Khan was too vulnerable defensively to challenge for a title anytime soon.
Despite of all this, Khan is still 21 years old and can possibly bounce back from this loss. The end was quick and while the knockdowns were vicious he didnt take any sustained punishment and appeared ok in the post-fight interviews.
But for Khan to make a comeback, defense should be the main lesson on his mind.
And no more fighting during Ramadan
Juan Diaz Dominates Katsidis, Juarez Rallies for Late Stoppage Over Barrios
The proposed war between Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis was not to be, as Diaz dominated Katsidis for a dubious split decision win on Saturday night (September 6).
After a close first round, Diaz went on to dominate the next six rounds with accurate combination punching and angles. While Katsidis remained game, he was unable to land consistent clean punches and had to nurse a badly swelled and cut right eye.
In the championship rounds, Diaz maintained good defense in spite of Katsidis continuing to work hard while taking shots.
Final scorecards read 115-113, 116-112, and 113-115 for Diaz.
The fight was entertaining but many are already questioning how any judge could have the fight closer than 8 rounds to 4 for Diaz.
In the post-fight interview, Diaz made it known he would like to face the winner of Casamayor-Marquez this weekend.
On the undercard, Rocky Juarez won a stunning 11th round knockout over rugged Jorge Barrios.
Juarez struggled to get any offense going as Barrios deftly boxed a confused Juarez from both the outside and inside. However, the fight remained close due to the referee deducting two points for very questionable low blows that were on the beltline.
In round 10, Barrios had slowed down due to his high work-rate and was caught with solid body shots and left hooks from Juarez that buckled his knees.
Juarez continued that momentum in the 11th, opening up a nasty blood spurting cut in Barrios mouth before dropping him with a straight right.
Even though Barrios was there mentally, the hanging flesh and flowing blood from his mouth gave the referee no choice but to stop the fight.
The win improves Juarezs record to 28-4, 20 KOs and possibly lead to him getting another shot at a super featherweight title.
Joel Casamayor vs. Juan Manuel Marquez, Mora vs. Forrest II PPV
Juan Manuel Marquez moves up to lightweight this weekend to face linear champ Joel Casamayor in an intriguing matchup of highly skilled pugilists.
Marquez has appeared sharp in recent efforts, even in his controversial loss to pound for pound #1 Manny Pacquiao.
Casamayor on the other hand has struggled in recent bouts and barely survived a shootout with limited slugger Michael Katsidis in March.
Still, Casamayor will have a good size advantage for a change and should be the slight favorite this bout.
Regarding the undercard, with every fight Vernon Forrest moves further away from his prime years of 1999-2002. Expect Mora to drag Forrest into another dog fight and outwork him to a decision.
RIP Joey Giardello 1930-2008
Last Thursday (September 4) we lost one of the most underrated champions in boxing history with the passing of Joey Giardello.
The New Jersey native campaigned at middleweight from 1948-1967. Over his 19 year career he posted wins over Sugar Ray Robinson, Ruben Carter, and Dick Tiger.
He held the middleweight title from 1963-1965 and was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 1999, he successfully sued Universal Pictures for his depiction in Denzel Washingtons The Hurricane as an inept punch-drunk fighter.
Joey Giardellos final record is 101-25-7, 33 KOs.
Throwback Fighter of the Week: Azumah Nelson
Sometimes a loss can make a fighter a star. Take Azumah The Professor Nelson, for instance.
Unknown for his first 13 bouts, the Ghanaian became an instant star though his courageous losing effort against legend Salvador Sanchez, going down swinging in the 15th round for a TKO loss in 1982.
Nelson rebounded in 1984 against another Hall of Famer in Wilfredo Gomez, outmuscling and grinding him down to an 11th round KO to pick up the WBC super featherweight title. The knockout is memorable due to Gomez falling in slow motion after being punched directly in the throat.
From there Nelson held that title for the next five years, beating solid contenders in Pat Cowdell, Mario Martinez (2X), and Marcos Villasana.
He would lose in 1990 when he moved up to lightweight to face a prime Pernell Whitaker. While never quitting, Nelson was completely outclassed and arguably lost every round to Sweet Pea.
Nelson would move back down to super featherweight that same year and regain his WBC title by decision against Juan La Porte.
Controversy would follow in 1991 when Nelson was outboxed by Australian Jeff Fenech in Las Vegas, but somehow earned an undeserving draw. In early 1992, Nelson left no doubts in the rematch by KOing Fenech in 8 rounds.
Nelson spent the mid to late 90s engaging in a tough four fight series with scrappy Jesse James Leija. He went 1-2-1: a draw in the first (1993), losing a decision in the second (1994), KOing Leija in the third (1996), and dropping a decision in the final 1998 bout.
By then Nelson was past prime and had also dropped a decision the previous year to Genaro Hernandez. He retired in 1998, but made a money-based comeback for one fight this past June against old rival Jeff Fenech. He lost by majority decision in a listless bout.
Azumah Nelson is a national hero in Ghana and recognized as the greatest fighter out of that country. He was inducted into International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.
Azumah Nelsons final record stands at 39-6-2, 28 KOs.
Nelson vs. Wilfedo Gomez
Nelson vs. Jeff Fenech II