|Interview with Nate Campbell: “Make the Fight”
Interview by Gabriel Montoya, Doghouse Boxing (March 24, 2008)
Following the action packed card at the Morongo Resort and Casino featuring Joel Casamayor vs. Michael Katsidis and Librado Andrade vs. Robert Steiglitz, all hell broke loose at what up until then had been a rather pedestrian press conference. I went to a post-fight press conference and a fight broke out.
Andrade, now the mandatory challenger to IBF 168 lb titleholder Lucien Bute, spoke passionately about his desire to be a champion. He praised Steiglitz who was off to the doctor for what was reportedly a broken jaw.
Then brave Michael Katsidis’ showed all the class and humility of a champion in praising Casamayor.
An executive of Casamayor’s promotional firm, Golden Boy Promotions, introduced Joel Casamayor as the “and still Ring Magazine Lightweight Champ.” It is a title made dubious by the fact that Golden Boy Promotions recently purchased the magazine which in recent years has tried (and in some eyes failed) to bring some legitimacy to the sport by deciding who the real champion in any given division is, despite what the alphabelt sanctioning bodies decide amongst themselves. Casamayor’s championship has also been tainted recently by his decision win over Jose Armando Santa Cruz last November.
Still and all, Casamayor is a surefire hall of famer who deserves respect. He put up a great fight against Katsidis in what many are already calling the leading candidate for fight of the year.
“I want to thank Golden Boy Promotions and the Katsidis team for making the fight,” Casamayor says through a translator. “I showed that you can’t go forward against the best linear champion in the world. This is how life is. Up and downs. This is an up. We are just thankful for a great fight. There isn’t much to say. We will fight who ever.”
That last is an interesting statement considering who is sitting in the audience. Near the middle of the room, quietly watching the proceedings sat WBO, WBA, and IBF titleholder Nate Campbell, fresh off his victory the man many felt was the best lightweight in the world, Juan Diaz.
“How about this guy right here?” asks Maxboxing.com writer Steve Kim.
Campbell, dressed in a tailored black suit and hat, stood up and simply says, “I’m here.”
Then chaos ensued.
Someone in Casamayor’s camp yells, “We don’t come to your press conferences and talk crazy.”
To which Campbell replies, “I’m not talking crazy. You say you’re the best lightweight. I hold all the belts. Let’s work something out.”
Then my recorder becomes all garbled bedlam as a shouting match ensues from Team Casamayor. The GBP exec tries to regain order like Referee John Schorle proved in the night’s main event; being in charge of and maintaining control of a fight are two different things.
Casamayor’s translator chimes in, “Nate, Nate, Nate. You had the opportunity when you were undefeated. We pushed you back. We beat you already.”
More chaos. More back and forth jawing as Nate tries to state his case that he is not trying to start a fight now but simply is pointing out the most logical next fight in the lightweight division. Casamayor is having none of it and asks, “You want to fight now?” and begins heading in Nate’s direction. His team restrains him and the GBP exec takes the mic.
“Nate,” he begins. “He won an hour ago, okay? We’ve known each other a long time. We know what your history is. We know what you are about. We know what the deal is now.”
The interpreter starts laughing as two huge security guards come in and begin taking escorting Campbell calmly out of the room.
“GET OUT,” Team Casamayor shouts in unison. “GET OUT.” And the Casamayor contingent explodes with applause.
Inside the media room, it seemed not many more questions would be asked or answered so I headed out to speak with Campbell and found him with plenty to say.
“I’m the champ,” Campbell says downstairs to an ever growing crowd of media and fans. “I beat the best out of the division. With ease. As a matter of fact, look at my pretty face. Ain’t a scratch on it. I got little bitty something going on up here (points to a minor abrasion). I fought twelve hard rounds with the guy they say was the best at my weight. I’m the man. [Casamayor’s] the man trying to hold up the division. He’s 36. I thought he was 76 by the way he was fighting tonight.”
“Do you feel you need to fight Casamayor again to legitimize your title?” I ask.
“No,” he says. “He needs to fight me to legitimize his. Who has he fought? He lost to Santa Cruz. He lost to him and look at what they doing. Here’s the question. I just destroyed my last opponent. He won’t be the same. [Casamayor] just went life and death with two guys that can’t carry my jockstrap. Who is the champ?”
“You are,” says the assembled crowd.
“Thank you. Then he needs to legitimize his title. I don’t need to legitimize nuthin’.”
As for what he will do if Casamayor goes through with any of the names being considered over Campbell.
“You know what? I’m going to fight every other fighter out there so he has to step up. He can’t make money without . . . Ain’t nobody want to see him hold and head butt all night. They want to see a fight. I’ll tell it like this: You got to bring some ass to get some ass and he ain’t got no ass to bring.”
“What weaknesses did you see tonight that can help you in the rematch?” I wonder.
“Jesus Christ,” Campbell exclaimed. “What didn’t you see? He was staggering around like he was drunk. C’mon, man. I thought his name was Stagger Lee. He was holding hands so I thought he trying to make love to Katsidis at one point. You want to know the truth? I thought he was trying to give him a blowjob the way he bent down to his cup. He’s a bitch. His team’s a bitch. All of them’s bitches. Make the fight. I’m the one that everybody sees as the champion. Make the fight.”
For Campbell, the rematch means many things. It is a chance to get revenge for his first loss, a chance to prove who is the real lightweight champion, and a chance to right what he considered a bad decision the first time around.
“I spanked that ass the first time,” Campbell explained. “He didn’t fight for a long, long, long time after that.”
Campbell’s manager, Terry Trekas, puts their first clash simply. “After the fight, [Nate] went to the casino. Casamayor went to the hospital.”
“That old bastard don’t scare me,” continued Campbell. “All his friends don’t scare me. I fear no man. I’m a grandfather. Age ain’t catching me now.”
Not only is it not catching him, Campbell seems to be putting all of his skill and experience together at just the right time.
“Not only am I surging,” he exclaims, “I’m getting better. I got a workout now that’ll blow your mind. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. Me and Bernard [Hopkins] were just talking about how clean our lives are. Coca Cola soda. That’s my only bad habit. That. And I’m trying to get another baby,” he says with a smile.
“That’s not a bad habit,” I say.
“If that’s what you want to call it,” he laughs.
“I call it a hobby.”
“That’s it,” he laughs. “You gotta do something to stay busy.”
“Casamayor needs to fight this man,” says Trekas, getting us back on track. “[The press can’t] give him a pass when he goes and fights Joe Hamburger or somebody.”
“I’m the recognized champion. How many times have you heard a guy say ‘I’ll fight anybody they put in front of me?’ Then do it,” he urges.
“I’ve been representing [Nate] four years,” explains Trekas. “And in all that time, he has never turned a fight down. In fact, the only question he asks is, ‘Where the weigh-in?’ In the last fight, he took short money to fight Diaz. He took half his purse and bet it on himself so that the money was right.”
“That’s a fighter that believes in himself,” says Campbell. “If you don’t like the money: subsidize.”
Campbell agrees with many of us in the media that a promotional firm owning what Steve Kim eloquently called “a non-sanctioned sanctioning body” is dangerous for the sport. While a more streamlined approach to determining champions is needed, a promotional firm monopoly is not the way to do this.
“The day has come in boxing,” states Campbell, “when guys that say they are going to do what’s right for boxing, stop making excuses and distorting this sport they say they love. [GBP President Oscar] De La Hoya says that he cares about boxing. That he cares about what happens to fighters in boxing. Then why would he do what he is trying to do? Making a Diaz or Barrera fight instead of a Campbell fight. How can that be good for boxing? He owns the magazine. He owns the [Ring] belt. They can say ‘Linear this. Linear that.’ F#ck That. The best fighter is the champion. I am the best fighter.”
“HBO should do the right thing,” Campbell offers, “They should jerk any fight in the lightweight division that doesn’t go through me. Who wants to watch only Golden Boy fighters fight each other for The Golden Ring title? We want the best fighters fighting each other. I am the best lightweight. I toiled to prove that. The only way that [Casamayor] can beat me is with a pistol.”
Campbell doesn’t just hold HBO, De La Hoya and GBP solely responsible for helping to dilute the sport with multiple champions.
“The problem is not HBO in particular but the promoters,” he claims. “They so busy trying to keep everything in house and keep all the money. I’m just calling it like it is. Don’t make Don King [Campbell’s promoter] the reason that we can’t make the fight if you haven’t even picked up the phone. Let’s make the fight happen. I will beat that ass. You know I waxed it the first time. Sent his ass to the hospital. This time I’m going to send him to the morgue.”
As for Campbell’s immediate future, Trekas said Don King Promotions as well as Team Campbell were waiting for the outcome of this fight. With the win, Casamayor is now the interim WBO titleholder and as such, the mandatory challenger to Campbell. They feel he will vacate this position in favor of a big money fight. The process of Casamayor vacating the slot and the WBO finding a replacement could take as long as 30 days.
Wouldn’t it be quicker, easier and more logical for the two sides to simply make the fight and settle this in the way the Boxing Gods intended? Yeah. I think so, too.
Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com
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