Commentary

Cloud champing at the bit for next fight

Updated: February 10, 2012, 2:45 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud was not a happy camper when former titleholder Zsolt Erdei pulled out of their Dec. 31 fight, citing an injured hand.

"When I first heard that Erdei wasn't going to be able to fight, I thought, 'Bull----. He didn't hurt his hand. He just doesn't want to fight,'" Cloud said Wednesday. "He ain't prepared to fight and he's just looking for a way out."

[+] EnlargeTavoris Cloud
Javiel Centeno/Fightwireimages.comLight heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud, left, has been dominant when he has fought -- but dormant too often.

When Erdei dropped out, it gave Showtime an opening to cancel the expensive New Year's Eve card, which it had had second thoughts about putting on, rather than finding a replacement to fight Cloud.

But the network still had an obligation to Cloud and found the next available spot for him.

Cloud will make his fourth title defense against Spain's Gabriel Campillo, a former titleholder, on Feb. 18 (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at the American Bank Center Arena in Corpus Christi, Texas. The fight will open the card headlined by junior middleweight Paul Williams (40-2, 27 KOs), in his first bout since a highly disputed majority-decision win against Erislandy Lara in July, against Japan's Nobuhiro Ishida (24-6-2, 9 KOs), who made a name for himself last April by knocking out James Kirkland in the first round for a huge upset.

"Showtime stepped up and stayed true to their word and they gave us a new date," Cloud said. "I appreciate Showtime for that. I'm not thinking about the past, I'm thinking about the future. I'm just going to keep on winning fights."

Cloud (24-0, 19 KOs) was initially quite upset about his fight in December being canceled. After all, he was trying to get on a bit of a roll after long stretches of inactivity.

He fought only once in 2009, twice in 2010 (and one of those fights was on a small show that few saw) and just once in 2011, in part because of the cancellation.

They are trying to come and take something that people have tried to take from me several times. It's like I'm defending my house and I've got thieves trying to break in. I've gotten pretty good at it. I can't put it into words what I plan to do to my opponent.

-- Light heavyweight titlist Tavoris Cloud on Gabriel Campillo, his Feb. 18 opponent

"At first I was depressed about it, but I got over that," said Cloud, 30, of Tallahassee, Fla. "We got another fight. We got Campillo and he's stepped up to the plate, and I'm glad he did. I'm just here to do my job and to take out anyone they put in front of me. I'm not going to overthink the situation. My goal is to get into the ring on the 18th and do my job and then go home to my wife and kids."

Because of the cancellation of the December fight, Cloud has essentially been in training camp for four months. He said he will be ready to fight like he always does -- as a straight-ahead banger looking for a knockout.

"Come Feb. 18, I will have been in camp some four months, so I'm in great shape and I'm ready and willing to deal with all challenges," he said. "I'm going to come and put on a great show just like I always do. There ain't going to be no ducking and dodging. I'm going to go straight to my opponent. I just hope my opponent is ready, which I believe he is.

"They are trying to come and take something that people have tried to take from me several times. It's like I'm defending my house and I've got thieves trying to break in. I've gotten pretty good at it. I can't put it into words what I plan to do to my opponent. I'm going out there to win and put on a good show."

Like always, Cloud will be aiming for a knockout.

"It's always important to put a stamp on the fight because I'm a person who just believes people respect knockouts more than they respect decisions," he said. "Those are the types of fights the fans like."

Campillo (21-3-1, 8 KOs), 33, lost his version of the 175-pound title by split decision to Beibut Shumenov in a rematch in January 2010 in Las Vegas. It was one of the most controversial decisions of the year, as many believed Campillo not only won but also did so fairly easily.

Campillo, who trains in the same Oxnard, Calif., camp as middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, won his next two fights and then was saddled with a draw against Karo Murat in a title eliminator in October.

Still, Campillo turned in a good enough performance to land him this opportunity against Cloud.

"I feel very lucky to be on a Showtime fight and fighting against Tavoris Cloud," Campillo said through a translator. "I've been training really hard and I'm ready for the fight. I've been waiting my entire life to fight a big fight like this, so I will be ready.

"After that [draw with Murat], I was obviously very disappointed. I just tried to find the positives and to know that I put on a pretty good fight for the viewers. After that fight, I never really stopped thinking that I wasn't the real champion of the world. Never."

Lewis weighs in on Klitschko-Chisora

Lennox Lewis, the Hall of Fame former heavyweight champion, knows that Vitali Klitschko is beatable. In 2003, in the final fight of his career, Lewis stopped him on cuts in the sixth round in Los Angeles to retain the title. Lewis is also British, so perhaps he has a soft spot for British contender Dereck Chisora, who will challenge Klitschko for his world title on Feb. 18 (Epix and EpixHD.com) at Olympiahalle in Munich.

Whatever the case, Lewis is giving Chisora a shot to pull the upset against Klitschko (43-2, 40 KOs), who will be making his eighth title defense.

[+] EnlargeDereck Chisora
Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesOne fight expert -- albeit a potentially biased one -- believes Brit Dereck Chisora has a chance against Vitali Klitschko on Feb. 18: countryman and former heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis.

"Vitali is very good, but Chisora has a chance," Lewis said. "He is a heavyweight. All it takes is one punch on the chin to win. I always say, 'If you walk into the ring, you have to get wet.' If he [Klitschko] is in the fight, in the ring, and he gets punched, there is a chance that he might get hurt or knocked out. It will be an interesting fight."

Chisora (15-2, 9 KOs), who is scheduled to travel to Germany on Sunday, got a lift from Lewis' positive comments.

"It's good to hear those words from a great fighter like Lennox," Chisora said. "He understands that anyone can get hurt with a good punch in the ring, no matter who you are, and one good shot is all I need to topple Klitschko. I'm going into the fight against him as the underdog, just the way I like it, so when I knock him out in Round 8, it will be a massive shock that will be felt around the world.

"At the end of the day, it's me in the ring, and I've got to go in there and do a job on him."

Although the 6-foot-7 Klitschko has six inches on Chisora, the size discrepancy won't be something Chisora hasn't faced before. In December, Chisora had an easy time getting inside on the similarly sized Robert Helenius, who claimed a split decision against Chisora in one of the most controversial results of 2011.

Dulorme doings

Welterweight Thomas Dulorme (13-0, 10 KOs) of Puerto Rico, one of boxing's top prospects, was scheduled to fight Jose Reynoso (15-3-1, 2KOs) in the main event of the Feb. 17 edition of Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation" (11 p.m. ET/PT) from the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif. But a new opponent -- Aris Ambriz (16-2-1, 8 KOs) -- was lined up Thursday after Reynoso withdrew earlier in the week because he suffered a hip injury in training, according to Gary Shaw, Dulorme's co-promoter.

Charlie Perez, Reynoso's manager, told Shaw that the fighter was taken to the emergency room, where his hip was popped back into place after the doctor told him he had a hip contusion. Reynoso left the hospital on crutches, Perez told Shaw.

"It's unfortunate that Reynoso will have to pull out of this fight," Shaw said. "I know it must have been a serious injury for him to do so."

As for Ambriz, Shaw said: "Ambriz is a tough fighter and he'll give Dulorme everything he's got. This is a big opportunity for him going up against one of the best up-and-coming prospects in boxing, and he's promised to deliver a great show. Dulorme is ready to go and he's looking to shine on 'ShoBox.'"

Although boxing is Dulorme's focus, he recently graduated summa cum laude from the Lyceum Arts and Technology school in Puerto Rico, where he specialized as an AutoCad drafter.

"I'm very happy to achieve one of my lifelong dreams to graduate and have a profession," said Dulorme, 22. "As an individual, regardless of whether you're a boxer, you should seek to have options, and I am happy to have this great achievement and to help secure my future.

"Boxing is my passion. It's the force that makes me get up every morning. But I know that one day it all ends, and I will be ready when that day comes."

Dulorme is also working toward a degree in civil engineering from the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico and is scheduled to resume his studies later this year.

"Drawing is my first love," he said. "My dad is an engineer, and I grew up in that environment working with geometry and dealing with the spaces available. I started with small drawings and models and really loved what I was doing. Gradually, I improved through specialized classes and eventually jumped to formal education."

In the Feb. 17 co-feature, Puerto Rican junior middleweight prospect Jonathan Gonzalez (14-0, 13 KOs) will meet Billy Lyell (24-10, 5KOs).

Lundy-Williams grudge match

Lightweights Hank Lundy (21-1-1, 11 KOs) of Philadelphia and Dannie Williams (21-1, 17 KOs) of St. Louis will collide in the main event of "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2/ESPN3) on March 30 at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn. The winner of the fight could launch himself into title contention.

And because there's no love between Lundy and Williams, the potentially explosive fight has a grudge-match aspect to it.

Williams caught Lundy's attention in December when he threatened to "hurt" him if they were to face each other. Now the fight is on, although Lundy pushed hard for it to take place on the East Coast.

"This has to stop," Lundy said. "I've proven myself time and time again on the road. Now y'all have to come to me. I went out to Chicago and knocked out the former world champ [David Diaz, in his hometown on Aug. 9]. What more do I have to do to get respect? So if y'all aren't coming to Philadelphia, Rhode Island or Connecticut to fight Hammerin' Hank, then we don't have a fight. I'm tired of going into people's backyards."

Lundy has won three bouts in a row since being upset by John Molina in an 11th-round knockout loss in July 2010, in a fight Lundy had been winning handily.

Elvin Ayala (24-5-1, 11 KOs) will face Hector Camacho Jr. (53-4-1, 28 KOs) in the middleweight co-feature.

Quick hits

[+] EnlargeBernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesWith financial terms set for the April 28 Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson rematch in Atlantic City, N.J., the hope is that the fighters will handle their business.

• Although light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins and his promoter, Golden Boy, and former titleholder Chad Dawson and his promoter, Gary Shaw, had agreed to an April 28 rematch at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., the most important aspect of their deal had not yet been finalized: a financial agreement with HBO, which has Hopkins under contract for one more fight. But that significant detail has now been handled, as Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer and Shaw both told ESPN.com that they have come to terms with the network for the fight. Hopkins and Dawson are meeting in a rematch of their Oct. 14 debacle in Los Angeles, where their fight was originally declared a second-round knockout win for Dawson before being overturned to a no-decision. The fight ended when Dawson shoved Hopkins to the canvas, causing him to injure his shoulder and be unable to continue. "I'm happy the fight is done and happy it is on HBO, as it never should have been [an HBO PPV] for the first fight," Shaw said. "This time Dawson will not let there be unfinished business."

• Although their deal isn't completed yet, super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KOs) and former titleholder Carl Froch (28-2, 20 KOs), the runner-up in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, had another aspect of their proposed showdown fall into place this week when the IBF made Froch the mandatory challenger for Bute, Froch promoter Eddie Hearn announced. The sides have talked about a two-fight home-and-away deal under which Bute would defend his title against Froch in Montreal and then go to Froch's hometown of Nottingham, England, for a rematch. However, the Froch camp is hopeful that the series will begin with the first fight in England. "I'm delighted that Carl has been installed as the mandatory for Lucian Bute's next bout," Hearn said. "Positive discussions have been ongoing with [Bute promoter] InterBox since the Super Six final [on Dec. 17], and we hope to get this fight made. It is Carl's dream to have his next fight in the U.K., and that is something very important to both of us. After recent discussions, I believe we can bring Lucian here in May, and we will be happy to give him the rematch in Canada once Carl has taken the IBF title from him." Unresolved, however, is Showtime's involvement. It has Bute under contract for one more fight, but the network isn't interested in the Bute-Froch fight, going so far as to give him permission to shop the bout elsewhere, including HBO, which was also not interested.

• Showtime's Feb. 18 season debut of "Showtime Championship Boxing" (10 p.m. ET/PT) will be a doubleheader in Corpus Christi, Texas, featuring junior middleweight Paul Williams (40-2, 27 KOs) against Japan's Nobuhiro Ishida (24-6-2, 9 KOs) and Tavoris Cloud defending his light heavyweight belt against former titleholder Gabriel Campillo (21-3-1, 8 KOs) of Spain. But Showtime Extreme will air preliminary bouts from the card beginning at 8 p.m. ET, including heavyweight contender Cristobal Arreola (34-2, 29 KOs) against Eric Molina (18-1, 14 KOs) and heavyweight Malik Scott (32-0, 11 KOs) against journeyman Kendrick Releford (22-15-2, 10 KOs), who is coming off a seventh-round knockout loss to Arreola last May. In 2006, Scott scored a near shutout of Releford in an eight-rounder. Although Scott (32-0, 11 KOs), 31, of Philadelphia, is undefeated and was once a highly regarded prospect, he never stepped up in competition, has won numerous fights with virtually no action and hasn't fought since December 2008. The Showtime Extreme bouts will be called by veteran announcer Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood, who also handles color duties for Showtime's "ShoBox" series.

• Australia's Michael Katsidis, the longtime lightweight all-action slugger, is moving up to junior welterweight and scheduled to headline a "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2/ESPN3) against Albert Mensah at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas on April 13. Katsidis (28-5, 23 KOs) is looking to get back on track after losing three of his past four bouts, including a decision to Ricky Burns for an interim lightweight title in November. Mensah (28-5, 23 KOs), of Ghana, hasn't lost since 2005.

• Lightweight John Molina, who has a history of pulling out of fights, did it again this week. He isn't injured but still withdrew from a scheduled title elimination bout against Marvin Quintero on Feb. 17, a fight that had been on the books for more than a month. It was supposed to be the headliner on an ESPN2/ESPN3 "Friday Night Fights" card from the University of Texas at Arlington's new 6,200-seat College Park Center, which opened in December. The new main event will feature junior welterweight Mike Dallas Jr. (17-2-1, 7 KOs) against Miguel Gonzalez (20-2, 15 KOs). Dallas has lost two fights in a row, but his most recent fight, also on FNF, was a controversial majority-decision defeat against Mauricio Herrera. Gonzalez has won 14 consecutive bouts. Also on the card, 2008 U.S. Olympian Shawn Estrada (13-0, 12 KOs), who hasn't fought in six months because of knee surgery, will return against Terrance Woods (9-3, 6 KOs) in a super middleweight fight.

• Junior lightweight contender Diego Magdaleno (21-0, 7 KOs), a Las Vegas resident who has fought all but one of his fights in his home region, will go on the road to headline a March 23 "ShoBox: The New Generation" card on Showtime. He will face Miguel Beltran Jr. (26-1, 17 KOs) of Mexico at the Casino Del Sol resort in Tucson, Ariz. Welterweight prospect Yordenis Ugas (11-0, 5 KOs), a Cuban defector living in Miami, will face Johnny Garcia (11-0, 8 KOs) of Holland, Mich., in the scheduled eight-round co-feature.

[+] EnlargeJessie Vargas
Ethan Miller/Getty ImagesProspect Jessie Vargas will again put his undefeated record on the line in his Las Vegas hometown when he moves up to welterweight for a Feb. 24 bout.

• Jessie Vargas, who won a 10-round split decision against Josesito Lopez in an excellent fight on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz pay-per-view in September, will return Feb. 24 at the Hard Rock in his hometown of Las Vegas to fight on Showtime's "ShoBox: The New Generation." Vargas (17-0, 9 KOs) will move up to welterweight for the fight against an opponent to be determined. Also on the card, former junior middleweight title challenger Deandre Latimore (22-3, 17 KOs) of St. Louis will face an opponent to be determined on the Mayweather Promotions card. Latimore dropped a split decision to St. Louis rival Cory Spinks in their 2009 world title bout.

• Lightweight contender Kevin Mitchell (32-1, 24 KOs) will face Felix Lora (14-8-5, 8 KOs) on Friday in London, but not far from his thoughts is a possible summer showdown with titleholder Ricky Burns (33-2, 9 KOs), who is also with British promoter Frank Warren, making it a relatively easy fight to make. Scotland's Burns has business of his own to attend to before a fight with Mitchell can be made. Burns will defend his belt against former titleholder Paulus Moses (28-1, 19 KOs) on March 10 in Scotland. "I know it's not good to look ahead at future fights, but beating Lora is the key to getting a world title fight with Burns next," Mitchell said. "It's the fight I really want, and I genuinely like Ricky -- he's a super kid. But I'll put friendship aside and smash him to bits to win the title. Come on Ricky, let's get it on. I really like [John] Murray, but look what I did to him. Once the fight is over, we'll shake hands. It's just the nature of the business that we are in."

• Light heavyweight Mike Lee (8-0, 5 KOs), the Notre Dame graduate and popular draw, signed a new deal to continue on as a national spokesperson for Subway. He has already been in a series of national television commercials for the sandwich chain and is back on board for another series of nationally televised prime-time ads, which will roll out in March and run through the 2012 Olympics and the NFL and college football seasons. Lee will be seen in ads with NBA star Blake Griffin, former women's boxing star Laila Ali and 2008 U.S. Olympic gymnastics gold medalist Nastia Liukin. Last fall, Lee, 24, of Chicago, was featured in three Subway commercials to become -- despite just a handful of fights -- one of the most recognizable boxers in the country.

• Fringe junior welterweight contender Victor Cayo (27-2, 19 KOs) will be at home in the Dominican Republic for his next fight March 24 when he faces former lightweight titleholder Nate Campbell (34-9-1, 25 KOs). Cayo suffered a 12th-round knockout loss to Lamont Peterson in their July title eliminator in Las Vegas. Cayo bounced back with a first-round knockout against a novice opponent in November, while Peterson got his mandatory title shot and defeated Amir Khan in December to claim two world titles. Campbell, who briefly retired after a loss in late 2010, is 1-4 in his past five bouts.

• In his third defense, flyweight titlist Hernan "Tyson" Marquez (32-2, 25 KOs) will face the Philippines' Rodel Mayol, a former junior flyweight titleholder, in Marquez's native Mexico on March 24. The fight came about last week when Michael Koncz -- Manny Pacquiao's adviser, who also is heavily involved in Pacquiao's MP Promotions, which promotes Mayol (30-5-2, 22 KOs) -- made a deal with Fernando Beltran, Marquez's promoter, when they were together in San Antonio at the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Marco Antonio Rubio fight.

• European middleweight champion Grzegorz Proksa has been added to the undercard of the show headlined by welterweight contender Kell Brook against Matthew Hatton in Sheffield, England, on March 17. Proksa (26-0, 19 KOs), who stopped former world titleholder Sebastian Sylvester in the third round in October to claim the vacant European belt, will make his first defense against an opponent to be determined.

Quotable

"I didn't expect to get a knockout against Kirkland. You never really expect that. I'm not sure about a knockout against Paul Williams, but I think I will get the win. I'm going to make it a very long night for Paul Williams. " -- Junior middleweight Nobuhiro Ishida, who pulled a huge upset against James Kirkland last April and again is the underdog for his fight with Williams on Feb. 18

Darchinyan

"My game plan is to knock him out and win. What else would everyone like to hear me say? I'm going to go out and fight a good fight. I could go out and box for points and win fights by running, but I respect that my fans spend good money to see me fight, and the reason why I am known around the world is because I come to knock my opponent out." -- Knockout artist and former two-division champion Vic Darchinyan, who always predicts KOs, on his April 6 fight in Tokyo, where he will challenge bantamweight titleholder Shinsuke Yamanaka

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at danrafaelespn.