Sharkie’s Machine: Nate Campbell Finally Gets His Due!

Nate CampbellBy Frank Gonzalez Jr Congratulations to Nate “Galaxy Warrior” Campbell (32-5-1, 25 KO’s) who dethroned WBO/IBF/WBA Lightweight Champion, Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz (33-1, 17 KO’s) at the Plaza de Toros in Cancun Mexico Saturday night. It was an exciting fight from start to finish, as Nate chose to go right after Diaz’ body and pressure him like no one ever has. It was a good strategy and Campbell proved to be the more accurate puncher of equal tenacity.

Juan Diaz beat Lavka Sim back in 2004 at the tender age of 20 and won his first major title. Since then, many top fighters have salivated over the opportunity to fight him and take what Diaz won by way of careful match making.

Former IBF titlist Julio Diaz was one that had been calling him out and insulting him for years. Eventually, Juan Diaz fought him in 2007 and beat the crap out of Julio and made him eat his words. After wins over undefeated Jose M. Cotto in 2004, a fading Acelino Freitas in early 2007 and a prime Julio Diaz, it appeared that Juan Diaz was for real..

Nate Campbell knew that Diaz had never been attacked the way he was going to attack him. Campbell, at 36 years old, went toe to toe with Diaz for all of twelve rounds. Diaz was aggressive and Campbell fought Diaz’ kind of fight, on the inside, where Campbell used his superior boxing skills and power to punish Diaz to the body and subsequently break him down. By the eighth round, Campbell’s attacks to the body were paying off, as Diaz was slowed, bloodied and ripe for losing that O on his record.

The Fight

Round One
After they touched gloves, Campbell looked to say to Diaz, “Be ready for me.” Campbell did a lot of damage on the inside, landing several right hands to the body of Diaz. Campbell showed solid defense too, blocking much of Diaz’ punches. Campbell fought Diaz on Diaz’ terms, in close and proved the more effective at the inside game as he focused on the body but also threw uppercuts and hooks that often landed. Diaz left eye was cut by a right cross and blood started to drip from the cut midway into the round. Diaz did some decent work and landed some shots but nothing flush. Everything Campbell threw was combinations up and down, straight rights, body shots, hooks, uppercuts and crosses. Campbell’s were the cleaner punches and he did the most damage. 10-9 Campbell.

Round Two

Round Two
Lot of back and forth action as they mix it up in the center of the ring at close range. Diaz was strong and sturdy. Diaz strategy was one dimensional; get in close and shoeshine punches to the body and head. He landed a few decent shots. Campbell traded with him and always landed the cleaner punches. This fight was a brawl and Campbell fought Diaz kind of fight and was getting the better work in. 10-9 Campbell.

Round Three
They both did more boxing to start the third, exchanging jabs and combos from a wider distance. Little by little, Diaz was getting in closer and let the leather fly. Campbell did well to block and land his own shots in return. Lots of action as they mix it up at center ring. Diaz left eye started to swell. 10-9 Campbell.

Round Four
Diaz went after the body but was mostly finding Nate’s elbows instead. Diaz landed a few good shots to the head and got Campbell against the ropes and did some effective work. Campbell landed a left hook and jabbed accurately. Diaz went all out with little regard for the return fire. He out-hustled Campbell to a degree and deserved to win the round. 10-9 Diaz.

In the corner, Ronnie Shields told Diaz to relax and keep working to tire Campbell out.

Round Five
Diaz aggressively punches to the body but Campbell countered with shots to the head, usually left hooks and right crosses. Diaz landed a clean jab that pushed Campbell back. Diaz had a better round in the fifth and pressured Campbell with more effectiveness as he pressed him into the ropes and scored well right before the bell. 10-9 Diaz.

Round Six
They box and brawl. The pace slowed some. Campbell landed a many punches in every exchange. Campbell’s shots came from all over the place, hooks, upper cuts, crosses, you name it. Diaz taking a lot of shots. Campbell landed a right uppercut into the eye. Diaz held and turned his head in an awkward way. The ref warned Campbell about a head butt. A second later, Diaz’ eye started bleeding and the ref changed the call to a point deduction from Campbell. A fishy call, but no surprise. The ref was generous to Diaz, who went to his corner and his cut man cleaned up the cut. A corner man tending a cut during a time out is not allowable from what I know. But the ref let it happen and that was that. It clearly wasn’t intentional if it was a butt and Campbell hadn’t been warned prior to the deduction. Diaz was milking the ref for another butt call as he went back to work; head first, into Campbell’s chest, same as the whole fight. The way Diaz leans his head in makes butts inevitable. I thought Nate did the better work and inflicted the most damage with punches. No way did Diaz win the round. Due to the deduction I scored it, 9-9 Even.

The replay showed the cut to be caused by a clean left uppercut to the area. The call was a bad one.

Round Seven
Diaz pressed Campbell, who in turn lands the cleaner punches on the inside. Diaz took to holding as Campbell’s body work was starting to pay dividends. Diaz did a lot of holding but the ref said nothing about it. Campbell was busier and more effective. 10-9 Campbell.

In the corner, Diaz had two cuts over the left eye. The one inside the lid looked to require about six stitches. Between the blood bothering his vision and the swelling closing the eye, Diaz needed to do something dramatic and soon.

Round Eight
Campbell continues to fight Diaz’ fight and win the inside battles with cleaner punches that were taking a toll on Diaz, who fought on courageously. Diaz landed a few good shots upstairs. Campbell returns fire. Campbell landed a few uppercuts to the head in close. Diaz held, his eye swelling shut. 10-9 Campbell.

Campbell’s corner praised his work and urged him to keep at it. Diaz corner worked on the cut and gave instructions to keep shooting the uppercut.

Round Nine
Campbell comes on strong, landing combinations in close. Diaz taking a lot of shots. Campbell focused on the left side of Diaz, where is vision had to be compromised. Campbell throws lots of uppercuts and hooks to the body. Diaz work rate slowed by fatigue and pain but he fought on the best he could. He made no adjustments to his game plan though. Campbell simply punched more and landed more and definitely had the better defense. 10-9 Campbell.

Round Ten
Diaz eye was swollen to a slit of vision. Campbell stayed with what was working and continued to punch often and land often. Diaz did a lot of clinching and less punching. Campbell backed Diaz into the ropes and punished him with shots all over. Diaz head always coming into dangerous territory. Campbell totally in control and says something to Diaz as the bell rang. 10-9 Campbell.

Diaz eye was just about closed shut in the corner. Blood seeping out of the gash on his eye lid. Campbell tells his trainer, “You’re the best fking trainer in all boxing!”

Round Eleven
Diaz was slow to get out of his corner. Campbell waits. Diaz came in, guard up, Campbell went to work. The ref breaks a clinch initiated by Diaz and says something to Campbell. More of the same as Diaz continued to hold and the ref continued to say things to Campbell. Campbell had to be annoyed by the ref and continued to punch and score. He landed a series of hooks and overhand rights. Diaz is a tough customer but he was getting the worst of it.
10-9 Campbell.

Campbell’s corner told him not to do anything stupid. Be smart. Don’t get careless.

Round Twelve
Campbell again out scored Diaz, who was punching then holding. Diaz lack of power was evident as even the shots he landed were having no effect. Diaz shoe-shined and Campbell shoe-shined right over his shoe-shine and scored the better shots. Campbell digs punches into the body and uppercuts upstairs during clinches. Diaz was a bloody mess and ineffective. At the bell, both fighters were lifted up but it was clear who won this one. 10-9 Campbell.

Juan Diaz deserves a lot of credit for showing a lot of heart but he never made any adjustments to deal with the mimicking style of Nate Campbell.

The Official Scores were 114-113 for Diaz and 116-111 and 115-112 for Campbell. Campbell won by Split Decision. I thought Diaz only won two rounds.

* *

The Galaxy Warrior pulled it off big-time in my book, beating Diaz to the punch all night and beating him at his own game on the inside. Campbell landed double what Diaz did and was never hurt. Campbell put on a spirited performance and it’s great to see a guy who really deserves it getting his due. At 36 years old, Campbell has been around for a while. He is now 1-1 in Championship fights. With this victory, he is the WBA, WBO and IBF champion.

Two other guys own the WBC title, which is ridiculous.

Joel Casamayor, who only fights once a year now, still holds one of the WBC belts and is scheduled to fight Michael Katsidis on the 22nd of this month. Katsidis is a brawler with limited boxing skills and even a past his peak Casamayor will be a HUGE step up for him. Casamayor doesn’t seem too interested in real competition these days. Why else is he fighting non title holders? Shit, or get off the pot I say.

David Diaz is also the WBC champ. Huh? I know, it makes no sense. You’d think the WBC would mandate David Diaz to fight Joel Casamayor to eliminate this farce but no. David Diaz beat Jose Armando Santa Cruz in June of 2006 and won by TKO 10. Joel Casamayor beat the same guy in 2007 by Split Decision. Why on Earth didn’t Casamayor and David Diaz fight each other? You have to wonder who makes these idiotic decisions in boxing. It can’t be the fighters.

Joel Casamayor beat Nate Campbell back in January of 2003 by Decision. I think Campbell has aged better than fellow 36 year old Casamayor. Campbell still has good power and showed great conditioning last night. I’d pick Campbell to beat Casamayor in a rematch.

During the post fight interview, the undeserving of HBO-dom, Max Kellerman, asked Campbell the standard question of who he wants to fight next. Campbell graciously said, he leaves those decisions to his promoter. For now, he’s going to celebrate his victory and enjoy.

For Diaz, it’s not the end of the world. He’s still very young and this loss should prove to be one of the most valuable lessons in his boxing life. When he watches the tapes, he’ll see that he needs to develop a plan B to compliment his usually effective game plan of fighting inside with high volume. His defense could use some work and he’d do well to work on outside boxing skills so he can be more versatile in the future. He gave his best and has nothing to be ashamed of. He’ll be back and we’ll be watching.

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Article posted on 09.03.2008

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