By Cliff Rold
35-year old former WBA Light Heavyweight titlist Gabriel Campillo (24-6-1, 10 KO) of Madrid, Spain, saved his career on Friday night at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Washington, cutting and forcing a stoppage of previously undefeated 26-year old Thomas Williams Jr. (17-1, 12 KO) of Fort Washington, Maryland.
Campillo came into the contest just below the division limit at 174 ¾ while Williams came in at the limit at 175. The referee was Ray Corona.
Williams got off to a solid start, jabbing well and backing Campillo up with heavy if partly blocked shots. Williams landed solidly to the body and Campillo, stopped in two of his previous four fights, appeared to have shaky legs.
The legs got better.
Pushing forward and making Williams miss, the veteran used sophisticated pressure to begin taking the fight to the younger man in round two. Sticking the jab, Campillo had Williams looking unsure and frustrated by round three. Williams was looking for big shots, and finding some room for them to the body, but the head of Campillo was well guarded and return fire was mounting.
In round four, what appeared to be a cut opened by a jab put Williams on his bicycle while Campillo came forward to take advantage. Williams came out for round five trying to fight his way through, pressing and heaving bombs at the head and body. Campillo, targeting the cut and a bloody nose, absorbed the rush and imposed himself through the remainder of the round.
Examining the cut prior to the start of round five, the ring doctor decided Williams could not continue and the bout was stopped. As the cut was caused by a punch, the official time of the stoppage is recorded at 3:00 of round five.
It was, officially, the first win for Gabriel Campillo on US soil and comes in an eliminator for a shot at the IBF title currently held by the ageless Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins is currently scheduled to defend his IBF and WBA belts in a unification bout this fall versus WBO titlist Sergey Kovalev.
The card was broadcast in the US on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Goosen Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]