By Ben Jacobs
Following two successive early knockout defeats in a row and after months of consideration, Spain’s Gabriel Campillo (25-8-1, 12 KOs) has decided to retire from the sport of boxing. Having achieved success as the WBA light heavyweight champion along with a successful defence of that belt, Gabriel at one time was considered one of the best fighters in the division. The general consensus was that he was also on the end of some disgraceful judging, not least in his rematch with Beibut Shumenov and in his IBF title challenge to Tavoris Cloud. Speaking to BoxingScene.com, Campillo reflected back on the key moments of his career in his usual affable and well-spoken manner.
“It was a hard decision to make because this is something I’ve been doing all my life, it’s all I’ve ever known,” he confessed.
“I get up, train, eat, train again. I’m not going to do it anymore and it will take time to get used to that.
“I could never give up the gym though. I’m taking a bit of a break because I am physically tired due to the competition that I’ve had but I love being in the gym.”
Campillo explained the main factors behind his decision to call it a day at the age of 37. His first round stoppage loss to Marcus Browne seemingly the key factor towards the end.
“The fight with [Artur] Beterbiev, I lost by knockout and sometimes you can put that down to a bad night, it can happen to anyone. But two in a row? Then you start to think, and with my age, if I continue maybe I would be putting my health at risk. You have to see what the best thing you can do is and in my case it was retirement.
“I wouldn’t want to step down and fight for the European title. I wanted to fight in the United States against the best. I didn’t want to go backwards and I achieved a lot more than I expected - so I’m very satisfied.
“I’m very proud that I fought the best,” he continued.
“I never looked for easy targets, in fact, it was the opposite. I wanted to be motivated so I wanted to fight the strongest opponents. When my manager called me and said, ‘Do you want to fight this guy? He looks really strong.’ I said, ‘Yes’, because I always thought I could win. That’s what motivated me.”
Campillo won the WBA light heavyweight world title away from home in Argentina against local Hugo Garay in June, 2009. He then successfully defended the belt in Kazakhstan against then unbeaten Beibut Shumenov. But what does the Madrid man class as his most satisfying victory?
“My most satisfying win was a defeat! The one against Tavoris Cloud,” he said, laughing.
“In that fight I really showed my talent. I have asked myself what would have happened had I become world champion that night, well maybe lots of things would have changed in my career. But that was my biggest satisfaction, that performance. Without doubt I was in my prime so maybe other rivals and title opportunities could have come along. As it was a defeat I was out of the picture a bit. I am totally sure that the interests and money behind the scenes is what leads to these robberies. It’s obvious that something else goes on. It has to change or boxing will be damaged.
“The robberies hurt you in the long term. It takes away some of your faith in the sport, it makes you think there is something sinister happening and it is hard to get over. But as fighters we do get over it. When I fought Shumenov, they robbed me of my world title but I just thought, ‘Ok, I will get it back.’
“With Cloud I thought I had won it and become champion again so it was an enormous disappointment when they robbed me. Also at the time Tavoris was a beast, he had a lot of knockouts and was unbeaten, in his prime.”