Campbell Reigns Supreme

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 11, 2008

NEW YORK — When Nate “The Galaxy Warrior” Campbell lifted the WBO, WBA, and IBF lightweight championships from previously unbeaten titlist Juan Diaz in March, the 35 year-old from Tampa, Florida, assumed the responsibility of having to meet an official mandatory from each of the three sanctioning bodies.

The first step toward Campbell solidifying his legacy as world lightweight champion will occur on Saturday night, at Beau River Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Campbell (32-5-1, 25 KOs) will take on unbeaten WBO super featherweight champion Joan Guzman (28-0, 17 KOs).

Campbell vs. Guzman will be the main event of a Showtime Championship Boxing doubleheader beginning at 9 p.m ET. In the co-feature, WBC junior welterweight champion Timothy Bradley (22-0, 11 KOs) makes the first defense of his title against Edner Cherry (24-5-2, 12 KOs).

Nothing has been easy for Campbell. He was always a good fighter with lots of skills, but suffered a number of setbacks (losses) that really hurt his career.

“I had to come up the old fashioned way,” Campbell said during a recent conference call. “I came up with losses and heartbreak and heartache, and I had to deal with it. You don’t have to give me my respect. I’ll take it the hard way. I’m not upset with anybody. I’m not angry with anybody. I just want what I believe I deserve.”

Boxing is a sport in which the best fighters start training from before they become teenagers. Some start as young as seven-eight years old. Fighters usually have a degree of regional, local championships that may include Golden Gloves titles to the highest honor — a gold medal at the Olympics.

Campbell didn’t have much of an amateur background, as he started his boxing career extremely late at age 28 after having only 36 amateur fights.

“I had to make up for all my lack of amateur experience because I only had 36 fights,” Campbell said. “I had to learn a lot since my amateur experience, and it has made me a better fighter. Nothing is broke. If nothing is broke, you don’t have to fix it. So for me I had to fix the things that were broke.”

Campbell has fought his entire career in the lightweight division since turning professional in 2000. Campbell can be considered a natural fighter because of all that he’s accomplished after starting his career so late. But Campbell’s talent and status as one of the best fighters in the world was overshadows by losses to Joel Casamayor and Robbie Peden.

The Diaz fight was perhaps Campbell’s last shot at ever becoming a world champion and competing on the elite level. He made the most of it by pressuring Diaz with a hard and consistent combination counterattack. Campbell beat Diaz, via 12-round unanimous decision.

Next in line is Guzman, 32, Dominican Republic. Guzman was an unbeaten WBO champion in the super featherweight and super bantamweight divisions. Trained by Floyd Mayweather, Sr., Guzman has lots of speed, movement, and punches from different angles. Guzman is not considered a puncher, as his last seven fights have gone the distance (80 rounds).

Campbell believes that Guzman’s speed will not be a problem.

“I don’t see where he’s that much quicker than me,” Campbell said. “The first thing you all miss is that I’m not slow by any stretch. I’m not a slow guy. I don’t slide. I don’t just walk to guys. I’m a technician in my own right.”

Campbell, recognized for having heavy hands, is regarded as the puncher in this fight.

“I’m going for a knockout in every fight,” Campbell said. “If a guy stands there and takes it, I might not get the knockout that fight, but somewhere along the line some other guy gets it. I’ve been beating and debilitating opponents. I’ve been proving it through my career at 135 pounds.”

Campbell added: “There’s nothing different about me fighting this fighter or any other fighter. I’ve always fought the guys out there.”

Bradley vs. Cherry in co-feature

Timothy Bradley, the newly crowned WBC 140 pound champion, makes his first defense against Edner Cherry. The 25 year-old Bradley is an unbeaten junior welterweight prospect that fought exclusively in his hometown state of California. He left the United States for the first time to score an upset decision win against Junior Witter in May.

Bradley will be facing a rejuvenated Cherry, 26, Bahamas. Cherry has won his last three fights including a tenth round knockout of faded WBC lightweight champion Stevie Johnson in May.

Bradley’s bout with Cherry is a little more than a showcase title defense for the young champion. Little is known about Bradley, but he made a strong impression when he lifted the championship from such a sound boxer like Witter. But the boxing world is going to learn a lot more about Bradley and his ability to beat a live underdog like Cherry.