By Ben Jacobs
Victory is always more satisfying when achieved against the odds, something that Gabriel Campillo has encountered various times in his professional career.
The 35-year-old was written off by many who tipped the hard-hitting Thomas Williams Jr to overcome him, but the former WBA light-heavyweight champion showed that there is still life in him yet with a stoppage win, and there may be more to come.
“Throughout my career, I’ve surprised people many times when nobody thought I could win,” he told BoxingScene.
“This type of win feels even better because so many people say you’re going to lose, and then you show the best version of yourself. When that happens it’s a great feeling.”
Although a moot point, Campillo found himself down on two of the judges’ scorecards when the end came after round five. This was not the first time in his career in which the judges’ cards differed to what most observers witnessed. As such, the Madrid-native was not surprised.
“Trying to be fair, I thought he won the first two rounds but the final three I won clearly. The fact that two of the judges had me three points down is shameful. I won inside the distance but if not we could be talking about another robbery in amongst the ones that I have already suffered.”
Campillo admitted that he sensed Williams was in trouble early on when his opponent began to act differently.
“At the end of the second round, my corner and I realised that I’d have to perform very badly not to win. When my jab started to do him a lot of damage, he started to look different and I knew I had him. His attitude changed as well.
“Once he felt my strong, powerful jab, the fight totally changed. It was quick and doing damage and he may have underestimated my power.”
Campillo is certain, however, that Williams Jr, a talented prospect, will bounce back from the first defeat of his career.
“He can come back, of course. When you lose you can learn a lot. I learnt more from my defeats, even the robberies, than in all my victories. If he can take positives from this loss then he can come back stronger than before, for sure.”
‘El Chico Guapo’ is now thinking about the future, and it could be an exciting immediate future. Campillo is among the candidates to be the next opponent for WBC champion, Adonis Stevenson, possibly at the end of September.
“What I know is that Stevenson’s team are speaking with my team and that I’m one of the names that could possibly fight him next,” he admitted.
“For me that would be incredible, to have a world title shot against him, but there are five names that could fight him, so it’s a possibility. But I will be ready if it gets made.
“I’m in a much better moment than before I fought [Sergey] Kovalev when I had a lot of inactivity. I’ve won twice by knockout, I’ve had good training camps, so physically and mentally I’m in a good place. I’ve sparred with John Jackson in the Virgin Islands. I was also in Chicago sparring [Andrzej] Fonfara so I want to take advantage of this good form.
“Fonfara showed me that Stevenson’s not unbeatable, he’s called ‘Superman’ but you can hurt him. I think after the ninth round Fonfara was stronger than Stevenson and he can be beaten.”
Could there be a possibility that Gabriel may follow the likes of Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew up to the cruiserweight division?
“I can still make light-heavyweight, not easily but without too much trouble. So while I can I will stay at this weight, this is a very competitive division so I want to stay here, I like the opponents. I entered the ring against Williams Jr at around 86kg (190lbs).”
As for the other world champions in the light heavyweight division, Bernard Hopkins and Sergey Kovalev will face each other, reportedly on November 8. Many fight fans are predicting the end for ‘The Alien’ but Campillo believes the Philadelphian can tame the beast.
“I think Hopkins can beat him, I was speaking to my trainer about this fight, today in fact. Hopkins is going to make it difficult for Kovalev, due to the experience that he has, and he’s a great boxer, an immense boxer. We will see. I’m sure Hopkins will have already studied Kovalev thoroughly, obviously a boxer as intelligent as Hopkins will know how to take advantage of any weakness that Kovalev may have.”