|Timothy Bradley Retains Title With Questionable Stoppage of Nate Campbell
By Brandon Estrict, Doghouse Boxing (Aug 2, 2009) Photo © German Villasenor
What started off as a promising night of action on Showtime Championship Boxing, eventually degenerated into turmoil and confusion.
WBO Light-Welterweight Champion, California’s own Timothy Bradley, made his first Championship defense in front of his hometown crowd against a formidable Nate “The Galaxy Warrior” Campbell, the former Lightweight Champion of the world, at a near capacity Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage, CA. And unfortunately for Showtime viewers, the hometown crowd, and both fighters, especially Campbell, the fight didn’t last as long as Bradley’s ring entrance.
The action started off just as in any other competitive fight. The only twist was the aggressive Bradley, 25-0 (12), started out playing the role of boxer/counterpuncher as Nate pressured him, pushing Bradley backwards in an attempt to get inside and make things physical for the younger Champion of lesser experience.
That particular fight-plan may have been to Campbell’s detriment in the long-run, as one would assume Nate, who held a ½ inch height advantage as well as a 2 ½ inch reach advantage, would be better served to fight from the outside, hoping to catch an often overly-eager Bradley with one of his educated counter rights. However, with the way the fight ended, we weren’t afforded enough time to tell whether or not Campbell would’ve been effective.
After two ugly rounds, both of which I scored for Bradley purely on his work-rate and maybe on account of some good body-work, the only drama produced would be a clash of heads. Bradley seemed to initiate the unintentional butt, though neither man appeared to sustain any significant damage.
That would not be the case in Round 3.
Almost immediately after the bell sounded, both men exchanged blows toward the top-center of the ring when Campbell suddenly began to retreat backwards, only to be followed back into the corner by Bradley, who would pin him there and go to work. At some point, Nate lobbied for a head-butt foul to be called on Bradley, which referee David Mendoza apparently didn’t see. A split second after that gesture, blood began to stream out of Campbell’s left eye and though replays would indicate a clash of heads was the culprit, Mendoza, who allowed the action to continue, ruled that a punch had caused the bleeding. Things wouldn’t get much better from that point on, as Bradley continued his offensive assault, and closed out the round by stunning Nate with another speedy series of punches, forcing the veteran Campbell to hold on in an effort to survive the final stages of the round.
Now, here is where the fun begins. Immediately after the bell ended the round, Campbell, now 33-6-1 (25), complained to his corner that he could no longer see out of his left eye. He mentioned even before reaching his stool, and continued to tell everyone within 100 feet of his corner that he couldn’t see. This is when the Ring Doctor decided to put an end to the fight, and because Mendoza hadn’t correctly indentified the head-butt as the cause of the damage, Timothy Bradley was awarded a TKO win over Campbell, who to this point, hadn’t been stopped in over 4 years and spanning two weight classes.
When interviewed by Showtime analyst Jim Grey, Mendoza appeared confused and not very concrete on his reason for not ruling the fight a no-contest, as he agreed with Grey that an unintentional butt caused the damage, but he didn’t see the blood until a (phantom) punch followed the butt, apparently a split second later, to his view, thus his ruling.
All praises to Timothy Bradley for a successful title defense in front of his hometown fans, but surely this isn’t the way he wanted it. The circumstances render this a bittersweet victory to say the least, and neither man, especially Bradley, a good, young, and personable fighter, didn’t deserve for things to play out the way that they did.
Nate Campbell, on the other hand, seemed to take the first opportunity presented him to get out of the fight. In fairness, he does have a very legitimate argument over the fight being recorded as a loss on his rather impressive ledger and he isn’t referred to as the “Galaxy Warrior,” for nothing. Nate Campbell is a scrappy, yet skilled veteran fighter and former Champion, who lives up to his in-ring persona. But something didn’t seem right about the way the fight concluded.
Like it or not, Campbell brought this decision on himself. David Mendoza is human, and though he clearly made the wrong determination tonight, Campbell was still in control of his own destiny. He had two options; he could continue to fight through the cut in hopes of reversing the momentum of the fight and righting any injustice he felt, ala Miguel Cotto a little less than two months ago in his fight with Joshua Clottey when he sustained a cut much worse at the same point in the fight, yet pushed through to the end and won a close decision, or he could choose to sit things out and leave it in the referee’s hands. It’s obviously known to all which route Campbell opted to take, and when you leave any situation in anyone’s hands but your own, these are the kinds of things that can happen, not only in boxing, but in life.
So for as wronged as he may have been, Nate chose to get out of that fight, and the reason may be as abundantly clear as was the head-butt that caused all the commotion. Bradley, through 3 rounds anyway, looked like he may have been a little too much for the Jacksonville, Fl resident, Campbell, using his younger legs to get in and out at will, mixing in a few exchanges on the inside in the process. And to his credit, when asked about whether or not the referee did the right thing by Grey, Bradley responded, “That’s not my problem…It didn’t even matter, he was going to get beat tonight anyway. As the rounds went on, he was getting older, and older, and older…”
Where was this fire when the WBC so wrongly and unbelievably stripped him of their “championship” and attempted to drag his name through the mud about 5 months earlier, for no real reason? There may be hope for this kid yet!
Though I believe Bradley to be the better man and the result to be inevitable, time and again we are reminded that anything can happen within the confines of the squared-circle and a rematch is in order, as well as a review of the fight by the California State Athletic Commission. On the topic of that rematch, Campbell promoter Don King intervened himself into the post-fight interview with Bradley, joined by his own promoter, Gary Shaw, to make it clear that they would like a rematch and the decision was wrong and unfair. When pressed on the subject of rematch, a non-committal Shaw gave the following response: “We’ll see if the money’s right and Showtime wants the fight.”
Devon Alexander Claims First Championship
In another, more bizarre ending, Devon Alexander claimed the vacant WBC Light Welterweight Title when his opponent, England’s Junior Witter, refused to, or was unable to continue after the 8th round.
The fight started off pretty evenly contested, but Alexander would begin to establish control in the middle rounds. He didn’t exactly punish Witter to the point that a stoppage seemed imminent, which is why the confusion from the Showtime Broadcast Team and the live audience was brought on, as the ending of the bout was met with a mixed reaction.
All three judges had Alexander ahead 79-73 after the eighth, while press row had it a little tighter on their own unofficial scorecards.
Alexander, 19-0 (12) bounces back from his last outing, a sub-par showing in stopping journeyman Jesus Rodriguez, and at just 22 years of age, has now thrust himself into the big fight stratosphere of the 140 lb. division.
Things aren’t looking as good for Witter. He claimed afterward that an elbow injury he suffered in round 4 made things difficult for him, and eventually led to his deciding not to come out for the 9th round. Whatever the case, he is now 37-3-2 (22), has lost two of his last 3 fights(the other loss to the winner of tonight’s main event, Timothy Bradley), and has been stopped for the first time in his career. A dream fight with rival, Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, or even a match-up with young upstart and countryman, 140 lb. titlist Amir Khan, are presumably as far from reach as ever, and at 35 years old with 12 years in the sport, it’s hard to see where he goes from here.
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