By Keith Idec
Gabriel Campillo can’t think of any reason why he can’t take Tavoris Cloud’s light heavyweight title Feb. 18 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
The left-handed fighter from Spain was blunt when asked as to why he thinks he’ll upset Cloud in their IBF light heavyweight championship match.
“It’s three things,” Campillo said through a translator. “No. 1, I’m in better physical condition. I have more speed and quickness, and more intelligence, smarts.”
Campillo’s confidence drew an immediate response from Al Bonanni, Cloud’s clearly offended trainer.
“My fighter is quicker, more intelligent and in better shape,” Bonanni said. “God bless you. He’s going to try, but it’ll end, like Tavoris says, like it always ends.”
The 33-year-old Campillo (21-3-1, 18 KOs, 1 NC) settled for a split draw with Germany’s Karo Murat (24-1-1, 14 KOs) in his last fight, a 12-round IBF light heavyweight elimination match Oct. 1 in Neubrandenburg, Germany. Murat is one of the three fighters to whom Campillo has lost since he turned pro 10 years ago.
Three bouts before that draw, Campillo lost the WBA 175-pound crown by split decision to Beibut Shumenov in their January 2010 rematch in Las Vegas. Campillo beat Shumenov (12-1, 8 KOs) by majority decision in their first fight, a 12-rounder five months earlier in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Sampson Lewkowicz, Campillo’s promoter, thinks the American media is overlooking his fighter.
“Nobody believes and everybody’s talking about the future [of Cloud] and not the present, with my boxer,” Lewkowicz said. “I want to say thank you to everyone that’s definitely underestimating my fighter, and I will see you on the 18th. It will not be the first time that one of my fighters comes out victorious, when everyone in the press [overlooked him]. It happened with [Sergio] Martinez against Pavlik [and] Paul Williams, that they said he had no shot. Thank you very much.”
Cloud (23-0, 19 KOs), of Tallahassee, Fla., has made three defenses of the IBF light heavyweight title he won against England’s Clinton Woods in August 2009, but he hasn’t fought since stopping Philadelphia’s Yusaf Mack (29-4-2, 17 KOs) in the eighth round of their June 25 fight in St. Charles, Mo. He was supposed to box Hungary’s Zsolt Erdei (33-0, 18 KOs) on Dec. 31 in Anaheim, Calif., but Erdei pulled out of the fight with a hand injury and Campillo replaced him as Cloud’s opponent.
Showtime executives eventually decided to cancel the entire Dec. 31 card, but they agreed to televise the Cloud-Campillo clash as the co-feature of a doubleheader that’ll pit Paul Williams (40-2, 27 KOs), of Aiken, S.C., against Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida (24-6-2, 9 KOs) in the 12-round main event from American Bank Center in Corpus Christi.
“I’m very confident,” Campillo said, “and I’ll just have to show it on Feb. 18.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.