Boxing
Mississippi Burning: Edgy Campbell ready for revenge
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If Joan Guzman's goal was to get under Nate Campbell's skin...mission accomplished.

Campbell admitted this week, in a FitzHitz interview from Biloxi, Miss., that comments made by the unbeaten Dominican and his handlers regarding Campbell's recent wedding and honeymoon had strayed beyond the usual verbal give-and-take of promotional run-ups.

And, the reigning WBA/WBO/IBF lightweight champion added, Saturday night will be as good a time as any for him to even the score in the ring.

"There's always a certain amount of talk, and it's expected, but the things he said about my wedding and my family, they have nothing to do with promoting the fight," Campbell said.

"Now I'm here and it's my turn to make things equal the only way I know how. Its not so much directed at him as it is the people around him. I just want to harm him, and I want to make them watch."

The two men will meet for Campbell's three belts in the main event of a card at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, which reopened on Aug. 29, 2006 - the one- year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina - after both it and the surrounding city sustained significant damage when the storm made landfall in 2005.

"I didn't come to Biloxi to talk about (Joan Guzman). I came here to hurt him," Nate Campbell said.
The Campbell-Guzman fight, as well as a WBC 140-pound title fight between champion Timothy Bradley and challenger Edner Cherry, will be broadcast on Showtime beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern.

A third world title bout on the card, featuring IBF bantamweight champion Joseph Agbeko against No. 1 challenger William Gonzalez, was postponed to allow Agbeko to recover from malaria.

"I didn't come to Biloxi to talk about (Guzman). I came here to hurt him," Campbell said. "When the bell rings, I'm going to take him to a place in hell that he never dreamed existed."

Guzman, who vacated his WBO championship at 130 pounds and was immediately made that organizations mandatory challenger for Campbell at 135, made his incendiary comments after photos of Campbell's wedding began appearing on boxing Web sites earlier this year.

"Everyone has seen the picture of Nate and his wife in their cute, white wedding outfits," Guzman said. "I hope they're enjoying their honeymoon, because Nate's honeymoon at the top of the lightweight division is going to end once he fights me.

"I think he's afraid of me. I'll make Nate look so bad that he'll retire after I wipe the floor with him. I guess I can understand why Nate doesn't want to fight me. Twenty-eight boxers have tried to beat me and none of them came close to succeeding."

A 32-year-old now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., Guzman last fought in November 2007, when he successfully defended his junior lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Humberto Soto in Atlantic City.

He'd also held the WBO's crown at 122 pounds in 2004-05 before moving up in weight.

Campbell, now 36, was beaten in previous tries for the IBF junior lightweight and IBO lightweight belts, but finally grabbed the multi-jeweled brass ring with an upset decision win over previously unbeaten incumbent Juan Diaz in March.

Still, he's taken something of a back seat at 135 pounds after the recent arrival of Filipino phenom Manny Pacquiao - who defeated David Diaz for the WBC title in June - and the impending matchup of Joel Casamayor and Juan Manuel Marquez, to be shown on HBO PPV opposite he and Guzman on Saturday.

Pacquiao will meet Oscar De La Hoya in a multi-million dollar event at 147 pounds in December, while the Casamayor-Marquez fight is being billed by many as the "real" lightweight title fight, in spite of the fact that Diaz had widely been considered the best in the division before facing Campbell.

"I'm the most decorated fighter in the world today, but I can't get on pay- per-view. How do you explain that?" Campbell said. "I'm not a puppet. I won't say things that everyone else wants me to say. I'm just a fighter. I'm not trying to be anything else. I'm just the best fighter in the world. That's all."

Campbell's Florida-based promoter, Terry Trekas, said recently that an offer to bypass the Guzman title defense in favor of a unification match with Pacquiao in November was rejected by Pacquiao's team.

"They are not interested," he said.

His charge concurred, albeit more colorfully.

"There's only two ways Manny Pacquiao will ever fight me," Campbell said. "One, if hell freezes over. And two, if I let him come into the ring with a pistol."

FitzHitz says: Campbell KO 10.

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Elsewhere, summer makes a final full-throated gasp with no fewer than nine title bouts in addition to the Campbell-Guzman showdown in Mississippi.

First things first, sharing the card in Biloxi will be the aforementioned match between WBC 140-pound champion Bradley and Bahamian-turned-Floridian Cherry, who comes in as the No. 6 contender.

Bradley won his crown in his most recent fight, stunning incumbent Junior Witter via split decision on Witter's home turf in the United Kingdom on May 10.

The win improved the 25-year-old Californian, a former youth world champion in the weight class, to 22-0 with 11 knockouts.

Cherry, who turned 26 in July, had fought 23 of his 30 career bouts in Florida before traveling to The Field House in Camp Lejuene, N.C. to stop veteran ex- champion Stevie Johnston in the 10th round of their lightweight get-together on May 21.

His most-recent venture to the next heaviest weight class ended in a 10-round decision loss to Paul Malignaggi at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York in February 2007.

The bout encountered some out-of-ring controversy Tuesday, when, according to the WBC, a dispute with the Mississippi-based commission prompted the purchase of ringside-area tickets for three judges whose scorecards will be recognized as official by the WBC - regardless of the scoring of local judges.

No changes to that plan had been announced as of Thursday evening.

"We will respect any decision rendered by the local commission, but it will not have any effect on the WBC in regards to the recognition of the winner of the world championship fight," said WBC President Jose Sulaiman.

"As the WBC highly respects and has a very good understanding with the Association of Boxing Commissions, we would expect and accept their participation to find a solution that respects the dignity and rights of our organization, with our will to fully cooperate. Otherwise, the WBC will respect, absolutely, the scoring of the three judges appointed by the WBC sitting in the audience."

FitzHitz says: Bradley W 12.

* * * * * * *

The rest of the championship schedule:

Saturday WBC super welterweight title - Las Vegas Sergio Mora (champion) vs. Vernon Forrest (No. 13 challenger) Mora (21-0-1, 5 KO): First-season "Contender" champion making first title defense. Forrest: (40-3, 29 KO): Ex-champion at 147 and 154 pounds, lost to Mora in June. FitzHitz says: Forrest KO 9

WBA super lightweight title - Lviv, Ukraine Andreas Kotelnik (champion) vs. Norio Kimura (No. 15 challenger) Kotelnik (29-2-1, 13 KO): First defense since winning title in March. Kimura (34-5-2, 18 KO): First fight outside native Japan. FitzHitz says: Kotelnik W 12

IBF junior lightweight title - Kempton Park, South Africa Cassius Baloyi (champion) vs. Javier Alvarez (No. 13 challenger) Baloyi (35-3-1, 18 KO): First defense of second title reign, won belt in April. Alvarez (35-7-1, 16 KO): Lost three of last five overall, including August 2007 title shot. FitzHitz says: Baloyi W 12

IBF mini flyweight title - LaPaz, Mexico Raul Garcia (champion) vs. Jose Luis Varela (No. 9 challenger) Garcia (23-0-1, 15 KO): First defense since winning title in June. Varela (15-4, 7 KO): Lost three of last six overall, including two title fights. FitzHitz says: Garcia KO 6.

Monday Vacant WBA super flyweight title - Yokohama, Japan Nobuo Nashiro (No. 1 challenger) vs. Kohei Kono (No. 3 challenger) Nashiro (11-1, 7 KO): Held WBA title in 2006-07, making one successful defense. Kono (21-3, 7 KO): Seven-fight win streak, first career championship match. FitzHitz says: Nashiro W 12.

WBA minimumweight title - Yokohama, Japan Yutaka Niida (champion) vs. Roman Gonzalez (No. 1 challenger) Niida (23-1-3, 9 KO): Four-year champion making eighth title defense. Gonzalez (20-0, 18 KO): Sixteen of 18 career knockouts in three rounds or less. FitzHitz says: Gonzalez KO 4.

Thursday WBA super bantamweight title - Panama City, Panama Celestino Caballero (champion) vs. Elvis Mejia (No. 15 challenger) Caballero (29-2, 20 KO): Fifth title defense - first four ended in knockouts. Mejia (27-7-1, 7 KO): First career title fight, nine-fight win streak. FitzHitz says: Caballero KO 3.

WBA bantamweight title - Panama City, Panama Anselmo Moreno (champion) vs. Cecilio Santos (No. 13 challenger) Moreno (22-1-1, 8 KO): First title defense, 16-fight win streak. Santos (22-8-3, 12 KO): Winless in three career title fights - 0-2-1.

FitzHitz says: Moreno W 12.

Last week's record: 0-1 Overall picks record: 11-7

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides 'In The Ring' commentary for Speeding Bullet Network (speedingbulletnetwork.com), is a periodic contributor to 'The Drive with Dave Smith' on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at fitzbitz@msn.com.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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