Can Idle Nate Campbell Beat ‘Rush Hour’?
By Brandon Estrict, (Feb 13, 2009)  
Nate Campbell was cruising. After a long gridlocked career full of stop-and-go traffic, he had finally found the fast lane. The one that fighters fight for, the path that leads to the top shelf fights, championships, money, respect and most importantly legacy.

It all started on a Saturday night edition of HBO’s World Championship Boxing last year, March 8th to be exact. Against ‘The Baby Bull’ Juan Diaz, and amidst hostile environment in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, Campbell, 32-5-1(25), overcame adversity and took out the frustrations of a perpetual runner-up label in grinding down the Mexican-American Diaz, pounding out a bruising 12 round split decision in a fight that most would tell you was anything but even. He was now on top of the world and on top of the Lightweight Division, sans Joel Casamayor. Everything seemed to finally be within his grasp.

And then it was all gone. Again. After the well chronicled disaster with the Joan Guzman fight, where Guzman couldn’t make the Lightweight limit and pulled out of the fight about an hour prior to the main event, Nate Campbell was back to square one. His three hundred thousand dollar payday, which he was counting on to close a few business deals and take care of his family, was gone along with Guzman, as was his time and effort spent getting himself ready for the bout. Campbell would file for bankruptcy soon after. Traffic in that fast lane had come to a screeching halt.

This is known as ‘Rush Hour’, and in this case it’s name is Ali Funeka, a six foot one inch power-punching lightweight from South Africa. Needless to say, traffic has never looked more imposing. Funeka, 30-1-2 (25), is fresh off of his four round demolition of former champion Zahir Raheem, and comes into their bout Saturday night with everything in the world to fight for and a nation behind him. Though largely untested in his professional career, the sheer dimensions of this man, parallel to a Paul Williams in the Welterweight division, along with his punching power make him a huge threat to Nate, and a very live underdog. His dominant stoppage-win over Raheem was impressive to say the least and you have to wonder what more he is capable of. And against a man like Nate Campbell who comes to fight, we will get a pretty good indication this Saturday on HBO as their bout heads the bill of a triple-header that also features Kermit Cintron moving up to Junior Middleweight to take on interim WBC titlist Sergio Martinez, as well as hot prospect Alfredo Angulo in action.

Nearly a year after his career changing win over Diaz, Nate Campbell once again finds himself at a crossroads. He will make about half of what he was contracted to make to fight Guzman late last year, and a loss almost guarantees he will not only have to divide that number again, but also may not get another shot on HBO. You know Nate Campbell is motivated and will be as ready for the task at hand as is possible for him, but at 36 going on 37 years old and being inactive for virtually an entire calendar year, you’ve got to ask yourself will that be enough? After such a long layoff at such an advanced stage of his career, will Saturday night mark the date that Nate Campbell began to show his age or will he be able to make it over to that last alternative exit and once again find open road? You just don’t attempt to stop a man like Nate Campbell from eating, but this young lion that stands between him and that fastlane he so desperately needs to re-enter is no ordinary fender-bender, this Saturday night could turn into an eight car pile-up with such combustible elements in place. To quote Mr. Campbell, “Be prepared for fireworks!”

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