MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada — Friday Night Fights featured bouts last week featuring Jose Luis Castillo and Cory Spinks. The senior circuit continued last night at the Bell Centre with Nate Campbell facing undefeated welterweight prospect Kevin Bizier. Unlike the bouts last week, there was a bit of intrigue in this main even and on the undercard. Onto the notes…
NATE CAMPBELL THE BOXING JUNKIE: Before the main event, ESPN showed a pre-taped Campbell interview where he described his reason for still fighting as a junkie looking for his next fix. In this case, the “fix” is being world champion again, a feat he achieved back in 2008 by defeating Juan Diaz to become the unified lightweight champion.
But at 40 years old, his body has other plans. Campbell showed flashes of the old-school brilliance he’s known for: rolling with punches, effectively countering, and nullifying much of Bizier’s inside offense simply with upper body movement. It’s the stuff that guys like Archie Moore and James Toney perfected, unlike the faux pas shoulder rolls you see a lot of younger fighters trying today and nearly getting their heads taken off. Unfortunately for Campbell, his reflexes have dulled enough where he was getting hit flush repeatedly and a step-behind with his attempts to fire back. On the ropes, Campbell would look masterful slipping 3-4 power shots only to get creamed with a jarring left hook or right cross.
Ironically enough, I thought Campbell did enough to take the eighth round by lulling Bizier inside and ripping the body. But all that leaning and contorting was too much for Campbell, whose back went out and forced him to retire on his stool before the ninth.
As expected, Campbell said he wasn’t hurt and blamed the back issues on having to grapple with a fighter he claimed was around 160 in the ring. He vowed to continue his career as 140 despite turning 41 next month.
Campbell was right about one thing — his decision to keep boxing is akin to a junkie. And like a feind, it’s an extreme detriment to his health that he remains blind to. When your back can fall apart that badly, the last thing you need to be doing is fighting. The Galaxxy Warrior was the first fighter I ever interviewed back in 2008 and I vividly recall him stating he’d love to get into commentary once his career wraps up. That time is calling.
BIZIER UNIMPRESSIVE: Bizier got the W but isn’t someone most will go out of their way to see again. He was completely lost at times trying to break Campbell’s defense. That’s not to say he should have knocked out Nate; even way bigger guys like Victor Ortiz resorted to movement to dominate the Galaxxy Warrior. But Bizier couldn’t even recognize where he was having his best success. At mid-range, there wasn’t much Campbell could do with him except eat punches and with a shorter reach have to lunge on his counter attempts. Instead of Bizier making his fight much easier, he spent the majority of the fight trying to maul and got touched him pretty good in a few rounds.
ASSELSTINE GETS A MONTREAL SCREWJOB?: Vince McMahon, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels were nowhere in sight, but the look on Tyler Asselstine’s face after the decision was rendered looked like he felt he was at WWE predetermined event. After appearing dead in the water during the middle rounds from Baha Laham’s pressure, Asselstine began using his height and frame to lean on and bully Laham inside. This wore out Laham in the later rounds while Asselstine picked up his punch output. Laham, who landed some very hard body shots that had Asselstine visibly laboring as early as the fourth round, couldn’t find that same rhythm down the stretch with Asselstine’s mauling.
The scores were close with Laham taking a majority decision by scores of 95-95, 96-94 and 96-95. With how he finished, the scores indicate that the judges were giving a good number of the early rounds to Laham, favoring his harder shots and pressure to Asselstine’s higher activity. Laham being a Montreal native couldn’t have hurt either.
Personally, I had Asselstine by a few rounds and was surprised by the decision.
Let’s hear your thoughts. Is Nate Campbell done? Was Asselstine screwed?