Campbell-Guzman Preview & Prediction

First order of business, check out Tim’s comprehensive look at Saturday’s lightweight match up between Juan Manuel Marquez and Joel Casamayor.  To put it bluntly, it’s the bee’s knees. Up to this point, lightweight Nate Campbell’s career could be illustrated by the late Rodney Dangerfield’s famous line, “I get no respect.”  Despite ascending up through the ranks, first as a junior lightweight, and now as a lightweight, it seemed that Campbell was persona non grata in the eyes of the divisions title holders and boxing’s power brokers.  A lot had to do with Campbell’s awesome natural athletic ability, speed and power that made him a tough outing to even the most experienced fighter, and it appeared that nobody wanted anything to do with the Tampa, FL native.  But Campbell is cut from the cloth of fighters from days gone by.  Instead of merely sitting on his laurels, waiting for an opportunity to land in his lap, Campbell went about making a name for himself the way a fighter should, with his fists.  But even in light of his take-on-all-comers attitude, Campbell toiled in relative obscurity for the majority of his career. In fact it seemed that every time Campbell took a step forward three more were taken backwards.  A spirited loss to Joel Casamayor, a humiliating knockout loss to Robbie Peden (in a fight that saw Campbell give the fight away by sticking his chin out in a mocking manner, only for Peden to drop him with a hard shot), and then losing again to Peden in the rematch all kept Campbell out the limelight and any shot of landing a big money fight.  Then came Campbell’s bout with the Almazbek “Kid Diamond” Raiymkulov in 2005.  At the time, Raiymkulov was a highly touted prospect under the Top Rank promotional banner.  However, against Campbell, “Kid Diamond” lost his luster as Campbell bullied and battered the undefeated prospect before stopping him in the tenth round.  But again, the heat Campbell generated with his dominating performance cooled just as quickly when he dropped a split decision to Isaac Hlatswayo.  With every hurdle presented Campbell overcame the adversity.  Political stalling by title holders and the very same sanctioning bodies who had promised him a title shot all stood in his way but yet Campbell kept fighting.  And like a scene out of a Hollywood movie, Campbell finally received the chance of his lifetime, a title shot against then lightweight world champion Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz this past March.  Seizing the moment, Campbell did what most had doubted and became the matador to the bull that was Diaz.  The irony was not lost on the local of the fight, a bull ring in Cancun, Mexico.  It was Campbell’s moment in the sun, the fruition of an eight year career, and validation of a man who toiled for years to get the opportunity he felt he deserved.  Joan Guzman, by comparison has had a much easier time ascending up the rankings.  The former bantamweight titlist and undefeated contender has always had a place in the consciousness of the die hard fight fan.  An odd fact considering that Guzman had fought the typical cannon fodder and no-hope opponents often fed to ballyhooed prospects.  But I don’t mean to sell Guzman short in his accomplishments.  After all, in recent years Guzman has tackled some legitimately tough competition.  Wins over Fernando Beltran Jr., Jorge Barrios, Antonio Davis, and Humberto Soto were all impressive feats and Guzman should be lauded for his often dominating victories.  Domination of your adversary is made all the easier when you are blessed with the considerable athletic talents that Guzman posses.  Guzman posses incredible hand speed and often throws punches in combination but the most awe inspiring of Guzman’s repertoire is his uncanny defensive acumen.  Blessed with an innate ability to slip punches as easily as a fish swims and some other worldly sense of timing and anticipation opponents are often left swinging at air when in the ring.  It’s a rare commodity for a boxer to posses such an ability to slip and avoid damage in the midst of battle.  Yet Guzman does it so easy, cut from the mold of a Floyd Mayweather Jr. or a Wilfred Benitez.  For a detailed illustration of just what exactly I am lauding in respect to Guzman’s defensive prowess, simply pop in a tape of his last fight against Humberto Soto.  I, like many, had picked Soto, a hard-nosed, pressure fighter with decent boxing skills, to give Guzman fits.  Well fits were had that night but all by Soto who appeared to be moving in slow motion compared to Guzman.  Think of an AMC Pacer racing a Ferrari.  After that fight, I admit that I became a fan of the little Dominican.  My Prediction:  I like Nate Campbell to pull off a rather dominating unanimous decision.  Ok, I know what you’re saying, “but Sean, how can a 36 year-old Campbell last against a speedy slickster like Guzman?”  Good question, but here is how I see it, few fighters in the game are as mentally tough and tenacious as Campbell.  And at an age when most fighters in his division are entering the twilight of his career, Campbell seems to be reaching his peak.  Sure Guzman will be a tough nut to crack, after all no one has yet to pin a loss on him but something in the pit of my stomach leads me to believe that Campbell can.  After all, people claimed Campbell would not last under the relentless pressure of Juan Diaz, but look how that all turned out.  Not that Diaz and Guzman share an iota of fighting similarity but you get the picture.  I expect Guzman to win the early rounds easily, but as Campbell presses the attack, and utilizes his own athletic gifts, I see the tide turning to Campbell’s favor.  My Confidence:  Hovering right around 77%.  I really like Campbell in this fight but Guzman does posses some uncanny boxing skills that could pose a problem.  Though I will say that I do think a fighter based on timing and rhythm, like Guzman will be hurt by his inability to have landed a fight since November.  It should also be noted that Guzman is no spring chicken, coming in a mere four years younger than Campbell.  My Allegiance:  I like both fighters, but when push comes to shove I’m rolling with Campbell.  Though a bit abrasive and off-putting at times, the fact remains that Campbell’s candor is good for the sport and I rather did enjoy some of his “blogs” over at Maxboxing. 

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.