Boxing: Nate Campbell
March, 7, 2013
By Bernardo Pilatti | ESPN.com
Expect an explosive clash of styles when junior welterweights Victor Cayo and Emanuel Taylor meet in Atlantic City, N.J., on this week's "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/WatchESPN, 10 p.m. ET).
Cayo, of the Dominican Republic, is a veteran whose only losses have come against world champions (Lamont Peterson, Nate Campbell and Marcos Maidana). Taylor, nicknamed "Transformer," is a promising fighter who thus far has no big names on his résumé. Taylor is fighting in the main event of a nationally televised card for the first time in his career, and he'll do so against a qualified opponent.
"Victor Cayo is a very good fighter, but I'm sticking with my style -- I'm going all out," Taylor said. "I am a boxer and a puncher. I love to walk people down, but if need be, I can box as well."
Taylor (16-1, 11 KOs) is an aggressive, frontal fighter who likes to take the center of the ring early, imposing his rhythm and using a strategy similar to that exhibited by Peterson when he stopped Cayo in 2011. Taylor most recently was in action in January, when he scored a sixth-round TKO against the promising Raymond Serrano.
Cayo (31-3, 22 KOs) -- quick, fast on his feet and supremely technical -- has won his past four fights, three by stoppage, since being stopped by Campbell last March. Cayo figures to stay on the move and try to impose his jab and land double combinations against Taylor.
"We studied Victor and we saw he throws a lot of punches," Taylor said. "He puts combinations together very well. That's what makes me train harder: I know he is going to be prepared."
Cayo needs to avoid short-range exchanges and Taylor's counterpunching, one of the youngster's best assets. It was counter shots that Taylor used to open up Serrano before demolishing him with powerful combinations on the ropes until the referee stopped the bout.
"There are several flaws in Victor's style," Taylor said. "He keeps his hands down, he leans forward when he's trying to rest. But he's very deceptive; he throws punches from difficult angles. I think my defense is pretty tight. It will need to be against Victor."
A more objective observer might kindly comment that Taylor's defense needs work. He properly protects his left side too infrequently, either holding his arm too low or seeking to elude punches by rolling his shoulder Floyd Mayweather Jr.-style. Against Cayo -- a faster fighter who throws lots of straight punches and volleys with his right hand -- that style spells trouble.
And although Taylor typically throws very little at his opponent's midsection, body punching should be on the menu against Cayo. In 2010, Maidana used his powerful hooks to the liver to neutralize Cayo's speed before knocking him out.
In the co-main event, Russia's undefeated heavyweight prospect and knockout artist Magomed "Mago" Abdusalamov (16-0, 16 KOs) defends his regional heavyweight belt against former Puerto Rican Olympian Victor Bisbal (21-1, 15 KOs). Abdusalamov, now living in Oxnard, Calif., has won all his fights by KO -- none of them going beyond the fourth round. Bisbal is coming off two straight knockout wins.
February, 8, 2013
By Bernardo Pilatti | ESPN.com
Unbeaten welterweight Kevin Bizier will climb into the ring before a hometown crowd at Montreal's Bell Centre on Friday, but not just for an exhibition against a club fighter designed to pad his record and excite the locals. Bizier will step up for perhaps his most difficult test to date: a matchup with dangerous and always-complicated former two-division titlist Nate Campbell in a "Friday Night Fights" main event.
Bizier (19-0-0, 13 KOs) got the call when another local fighter, David Lemieux, fractured his hand and was forced to pull out of his featured bout with Jose Miguel Torres. When the main event was recast, with Bizier set to face Britain's John O'Donnell, another injury -- a broken left hand for O'Donnell -- prompted more shuffling. Enter Campbell (36-9-1, 26 KOs), who even at age 40 could pose a challenge to a talented though relatively green opponent. In March 2012, Campbell stopped fringe contender Victor Cayo, and three months later he traveled to Poland and defeated local pug Krzysztof Szot.
Bizier, 28, says he's excited to face a fighter of Campbell's experience and prestige. "He was a great champion, and I've had to change my entire preparation, make a lot of adjustments, because we had worked to face a 5-foot-11 lefty [O'Donnell] and now we'll be facing a 5-7 right-hander," he said. "But that's not going to stop me from coming out victorious in this fight."
Although Bizier is the favorite, he'll need to take precautions to avoid the curse of Lemieux, who was a big favorite in the same Bell Centre ring two years ago -- only to end up in a hospital. Lemieux, an undefeated and skyrocketing prospect who was on track for a title shot against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., saw his career hit the wall when he was stopped by Marco Antonio Rubio in April 2011.
Despite his lesser experience, Bizier has the tools -- a nasty left hook and fast combinations, for starters -- to carry this fight. But problems surface when he is pressured, and his defense isn't as solid as it needs to be. Campbell will be a good test for Bizier to prove whether he can show improvement in those areas where he's lacking.
The former lightweight champ is a well-known spoiler who in 2008 derailed the career of promising and then-undefeated Juan Diaz. A tough customer with fine stamina, a granite chin, a smart jab and a good sense of pace, Campbell deserves respect.
Whether fans get fireworks or a chess match, a main event featuring the big-stage introduction of a prospect seemingly on his way to bigger challenges and perhaps the last gasp of a skilled former champ who never disappoints his fans should make for high fight drama.