Saturday, August 2, 2014

Campillo Wins IBF Eliminator

Former WBA Light-Heavyweight world champion Gabriel Campillo has been a fighter who has seen his share of ups and downs throughout his career. Despite being a former world and former European Light-Heavyweight champion, Campillo is perhaps best known for being on the losing end of decisions that some believed should have gone his way in his fights with Beibut Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud.

After losing to Tavoris Cloud in 2012, Campillo would suffer two knockout losses in his next four fights at the hands of current WBO Light-Heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev and recent world title challenger Andrzej Fonfara. Following his loss to Fonfara there were some who questioned whether Campillo’s days as a top contender in the hunt for a shot at a world title were behind him.

Campillo returned to the ring following his loss to Fonfara in May of this year scoring a seventh round stoppage of British contender Ricky Pow. The former world champion looked to build on the momentum from his win over Pow when he took on undefeated IBF number six rated contender Thomas Williams Jr. on Friday night at the Little Creek Casino in Shelton, Washington.

Williams, who entered the fight with a record of 17-0, with 12 Knockouts appeared to be the favorite going into the fight, despite Campillo’s higher level of opposition and experience. In fights where an unbeaten prospect/ contender who one might argue has not been tested in his career steps up to face a veteran who has more experience, the question that will likely be asked is how will that fighter respond to adversity should it occur.

Campillo, who entered the fight with a record of 23-6-1, with 10 Knockouts would be the battle tested veteran who would ask those questions of Williams. It was clear from the opening bell that the undefeated Williams had the advantage in terms of power as he landed solid shots to the body and head of Campillo. It appeared early in this fight that the opinion of some that Campillo was now on the decline may have been warranted.

Williams kept up his aggression in round two as he consistently forced the action and was able to keep Campillo somewhat on the defensive. Although Williams was able to get off to a good start in this fight, Campillo did not appear hurt by Williams’ offense. 

Although he appeared to lose the first two rounds Campillo, a native of Madrid, Spain began to let his hands go more frequently in round three as he looked to win his first fight in the United States. The tempo of the fight shifted in round four as Campillo opened a cut over Williams’ left eye in with his jab.

Clearly bothered by the cut, Williams used movement to try and avoid Campillo who was now the aggressor. Williams’ solid offense earlier in this fight was not there at this stage and at the end of the fifth round, the fight was stopped by a ringside physician who deemed the cut too dangerous for Williams to continue.

Some might criticize Williams by saying he was affected by the cut and did not respond to the adversity however, it is important to remember that any cut especially one that can affect a fighter’s vision can certainly play a role in how a fighter fights. In my opinion, it is how a fighter deals with a setback that will determine what they are made of. We will have to wait and see what the future holds for the Fort Washington, Maryland native Thomas Williams Jr. , but this loss to Campillo should be looked at as a setback that will likely benefit Williams in the long-term.

The fight, which was billed as an IBF Light-Heavyweight eliminator for the number two ranking now puts Gabriel Campillo very much back in the mix for a potential world title shot. How quickly that opportunity may come his way however, remains to be seen. It was announced on Friday that an agreement had been reached for a potential unification bout between current IBF/WBA Light-Heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and WBO champion Sergey Kovalev to take place in November.

The agreement however, will depend on whether Kovalev is successful in his title defense Saturday night against former IBO champion Blake Caparello in Atlantic City. The possibility exists that Campillo now the number two contender will next face French contender Nadjib Mohammedi, the current IBF number one contender to determine a mandatory challenger for the winner of the potential Hopkins-Kovalev fight, should it happen.

Whether or not the politics of the sport will prevent a potential world title shot for Gabriel Campillo at least in the short-term remains to be seen. Campillo has however, showed that despite suffering some setbacks and some questions about his future not only as a top contender, but also as a fighter in general that he is still a top contender in the Light-Heavyweight division.


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