By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Nate Campbell went through the whole routine.
He sequestered himself from the wife and kids, put in eight weeks of hard training and prepared for 12 rounds of in-ring dissension with unbeaten challenger Joan Guzman at the Beau Rivage Casino & Resort.
But when fight night arrived Saturday, there was only one problem:
Guzman wasn't quite up to it.
One day after failing to make the 135-pound lightweight and therefore transforming the match with Campbell into a non-title affair, the Dominican apparently changed his mind and pulled out about three hours before the opening bell.
"I found out just before I walked into the building," said a dejected Campbell, who had intended to make the initial defense of the WBA/WBO/IBF championships that he won from Juan Diaz in March. "He waited until the last minute. I came downstairs about 6-something (Central time) and they told me.
"I don't want to make it sound bad, but aren't we sick of these guys that are so worried about themselves and are so self-absorbed that they don't do the job that's there for them to do? All he had to do was make weight."
The fight was initially changed from championship event to non-title attraction on Friday, when Guzman tipped the scales at 138 pounds. He was given two hours to drop the extra weight and fight for the title, but never reported back to the scales for another attempt.
Nate Campbell ended up preparing for a fight that never materialized.
Campbell weighed in a fraction of a pound over the limit on his initial try as well, but came back within the two-hour window at exactly 135 pounds.
The cancellation was announced to the crowd at the Beau Rivage to a chorus of boos, about an hour before the scheduled fight time. The card's other championship bout, a WBC 140-pound match between champion Timothy Bradley and No. 6 challenger Edner Cherry, was elevated to main event status.
Bradley defended his title with a lopsided unanimous decision, earning verdicts of 117-110, 118-109 and 119-109 on the three scorecards.
Campbell appeared in the ring briefly after the announcement and promised fans he'd meet them in the lobby and "sign anything you want me to sign, and talk about anything you want to talk about, as long as it's not too kinky, because my wife's not into that stuff."
Promoter Don King said, 'I think Guzman should have fought. He trained and he should have been ready to fight.'
The two sides agreed late Friday to go ahead with a non-title scenario in which Campbell could not lose the belts and Guzman could not win them, and Campbell said he'd gone ahead with that assumption Saturday until hearing the news from Tampa-based promoter Terry Trekas.
"There was a lot of stuff swirling (that Guzman was having weight problems), but you don't listen to all that. You take it with a grain of salt," Campbell said. "You listen to some and you put up with some, but it doesn't really impact anything. You're here to fight, not to talk."
Campbell said he was assured he'd receive his full fight purse, because "I did the job I came here to do and the job I promised to do." Guzman, on the other hand, will likely face both financial and suspension penalties for failing to hold up his end of things.
"Normally in a position like this it's the guy on Nate's side who'd pull out, because he was the one taking the risk fighting the heavier guy," said James "D.J" Montanocordoba, Campbell's training and conditioning coach. In this case, no matter how much money was at stake, Nate wanted the show to go on.
"Guzman didn't give a reason, but I think it's his heart. He didn't want this fight and he showed it." Scott Woodworth, president of Guzman's promotional company -- Sycuan Ringside Promotions -- said the decision not to fight was actually made by Mississippi commission doctors who said Guzman was too dehydrated after attempting to make the weight.
Woodworth said Guzman was -- upstairs in tears -- after the doctor told him his fate.
He also said Guzman would honor whatever penalty is imposed.
"What they're talking about right now is that Mississippi is going to suspend him for a year, which of course would be effective nationwide," Woodworth said. "I hope that's not the case, because at the end of the day you can't suspend him if the doctor isn't going to support him when he wants to fight."
Woodworth said he'd consider making a financial deal with Campbell if he agreed to arrange a future fight with Guzman.
"He was getting $250,000 for this fight, and I just told Nate Campbell if we could do it again -- and I don't blame Nate if he says 'No, I'm not ever doing it again' -- that whatever the penalty is we'd give it to Nate on the next fight. Fifty thousand dollars. Whatever they think is fair. Nate didn't do anything wrong."
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 email@example.com.