By Ben Jacobs
It would be stating the obvious to say that Gabriel Campillo has not had his best year, but the Spaniard feels that he is not yet done with the sport of boxing and wants another push towards a world title.
Campillo has previously held the WBA version of the light-heavyweight title before losing in highly controversial decision to current WBA “Super” champion, Beibut Shumenov in a bout which most observers felt Campillo won comfortably.
After being stopped in three rounds by the now WBO champion, Sergey Kovalev, Campillo bounced back with a routine stoppage victory in his home country before once again heading to the United States for an eliminator clash with Andrzej Fonfara. The Madrid man was leading by two points on two of the judges’ scorecards before he was stopped on a body shot in round nine. What does he feel went wrong that changed the course of that fight so dramatically?
“What changed was something physical,” Gabriel told BoxingScene.
“He hurt me with a good shot in the eighth round, on television it looks like he caught me right on the chin but the problem was that I was already very tired, in truth. We made a mistake in the preparation for that fight which was that we didn’t do enough rounds of sparring. When the fight was stopped in the ninth I was very, very tired. I was having a really good fight, leaving a good image of myself and I was winning.
“So the reason I was so hurt was because of how tired I was. I couldn’t react anymore. I won’t be changing my strength and conditioning coach, but we will make adjustments. Normally I start out a bit cold and it’s after a few rounds that I come into my own.
What we did against Fonfara was start out stronger, we did less rounds of sparring but more intense rounds, maybe that was the mistake.
“I’ve had a bad year in which I lost two fights by knockout but I hope this is a turning point in my career. I’m at the lowest point so now I have to climb up again to the top. Once you’re at the bottom, the only way is up so that’s what I’ll do.”
After those disappointing defeats and demoralising decisions rendered against him in the Shumenov and Tavoris Cloud fights, no one could blame Campillo if he decided to hang up the gloves.
“It did cross my mind to retire,” he admitted.
“But I’ve spend a good amount of time analysing and the conclusion that I’ve arrived to is that I’m actually better than I was a few years ago. And I want to prove it. If it turns out that I’m wrong and I’m not how I think I am, well I’ll take the decision to retire.
“My promoters have been pretty busy with the Kiko Martínez fight so I haven’t had too much time to talk to them about a new fight date but maybe we can get one in January or February. I’m training and I’m in good shape more or less so I’ll wait for a date and be prepared.”
Given that one of Campillo’s loses came to emerging superstar Sergey Kovalev, has the recently turned 35-year-old taken any solace from that?
“The last two wins for Kovalev have maybe given me a bit of consolation because he has shown he’s a great boxer, one of the best in the world at light-heavyweight. Without wishing to make excuses I also made some mistakes in that fight, but he’s a great boxer.
“His shots weren’t the hardest I’ve ever felt. The hardest puncher I’ve been in the ring with was Tavoris Cloud, he hit harder. The thing is that Kovalev hits very hard as well and he is very precise. He wastes few punches. He seems to connect with everything. So when you have power as well as precision it makes the difference.
“I don’t know who would win between him and Adonis Stevenson, but boxing would win! They are two very strong guys who hit very hard, always looking for the knockout and I’d love to see it.”
How does Campillo view the decision by the WBA to elevate his old rival from Kazakhstan to “Super” champion?
“For me it’s a deplorable decision. He has done nothing to receive that honour, to be a Super champion. I can’t understand it. He fights when he wants and against who he wants...I don’t understand Shumenov’s career.”Tags: Gabriel Campillo