Jesse Brinkley And Beibut Shumenov Win Terrific Fights, But Gabriel Campillo Gets Ripped Off

I guess this is just going to happen once a month or so in boxing now. We get a great fight and then we get a nauseating result.

On Fox Sports Net Friday, Gabriel Campillo-Beibut Shumenov II had the makings of an excellent light heavyweight bout, and it delivered. But Campillo pretty clearly won the bout, I thought, eight rounds to four, with one round scored 10-8 in my books because of the one-sided beating he put on Shumenov in the 9th. Instead, Campillo lost a split decision, with Patricia Morse Jarman scoring it a horrendous 117-111 — nine rounds to three for Shumenov. Shumenov co-promoted the card with Golden Boy, and I’m sure it’s a total coincidence that in every card where this has happened of late, the main promoter’s fighter has won with the aid of one or more scorecards that appeared to be filled out in advance. The running tally of major fights where this has happened since August, by the way, is four.

On ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, Jesse Brinkley-Curtis Stevens (super middleweight) was another terrific fight where one boxer rather clearly won. But this time the judges got it right. Brinkley came out on top with a wide decision win that reflected reality.

In other noteworthy TV fights, bantamweight prospect Chris Avalos knocked out Jose Nieves in four on Showtime and junior middleweight prospect Erislandy Lara graduated to contender status by knocking out “Contender” TV star Grady Brewer on FSN.


I’m at my wit’s end about this sport. There have been four exact fights where something like this has happened in five months: Juan Diaz-Paulie Malignaggi I; Paul Williams-Sergio Martinez; Vanes Martirosyan-Kassim Ouma; and now Campillo-Shumenov II.

The first two were very close fights with one bizarre scorecard each. Ouma appeared to win a close fight against Martirosyan, but all three scorecards had Martirosyan winning easily. Campillo was in a fight I scored 116-111 for him. How did Jarman scored it 117-111 for Shumenov? Again, I’m all for training judges better, and other recommended reforms. But I think we have to figure out a way to make it so judges aren’t paid, even indirectly, by the promoters. I’m not saying Jarman or anyone else is corrupted by this money. I don’t know that and have no evidence to insinuate it. I do think it probably has some subconscious effect at minimum, or else these wacky scorecards wouldn’t keep going the way the event’s promoter would want it to go for its fighter.

That aside: It was a very good fight. Campillo and Shumenov both mix up their punches well and aren’t shrinking violets. For almost the entire fight, Shumenov controlled the first part of each round and Campillo the second. But aside from some close rounds early, Campillo was the one doing the most damage. Campillo had to endure a cut over his left eye in the 5th, although he shrugged it off calmly. But by the next round, despite all the talk of a new conditioning regimen, Shumenov was tired. Shumenov would start rounds strong with hard, wide punches, but the defensively-sound Campillo would pick off his shots with his elbows, make tiny head movements and generally avoid getting hit very cleanly with a subtle array of maneuvers. Then, Campillo would connect on cleaner, shorter shots in bunches, controlling his half of the round far more convincingly than Shumenov. The 9th round was a slaughter, with Campillo combinations bloodying Shumenov’s nose and eyes. Campillo kind of took the 10th off, then won the rest of the way.

Shumenov’s guts and desire were evident. At the end of the 9th, when he was beat ragged, he came back and tried to show he wouldn’t submit. And he was said by the broadcast team to show improvement from the first fight; in only 10 fights, he shouldn’t be fighting for an alphabet title belt for a second time, and maybe that’s why he looked like the lesser of the two fighters more than anything. But I really liked the look of Campillo. He’s no mega-puncher, but he hits plenty hard to snap back his opponent, he’s got great endurance, he knows how to box and he’s quick and accurate. Clearly, his two upset wins were no flukes. Too bad he doesn’t have a third impressive win on his record. As always, the winner of an unpopular decision should prove himself by taking a rematch, and Campillo gave Shumenov a rematch, so Shumenov should reciprocate.


Brinkley-Stevens figured to be a war, and it was. Brinkley won it clearly, but he didn’t win it easily. In the 1st round, Stevens showed that he had the superior physical gifts, landing hard, fast lefts that swelled Brinkley’s right eye something awful. But Brinkley showed that he was the more versatile and intelligent of the pair.

From the 2nd round on, Brinkley controlled distance well. He exhibited better defense than I’d ever seen from him before. Although Stevens was connecting with a decent number of flashy power shots in each round, Brinkley was landing pretty nicely himself, and more frequently. By the 4th, it was clear that Stevens was too robotic, too single-minded on landing his big left, not interested in jabbing his way in against his taller opponent and neglectful of Brinkley’s ribcage. Brinkley stood his ground at the end of the 5th — in fact, after the 5th, when the two traded blows after the bell and Brinkley trainer Peter Manfredo Sr. ran into the ring to push Stevens, resulting in him getting kicked out of Brinkley’s corner for the rest of the night by Nevada authorities — and sapped Stevens’ will. The 6th did more damage still to Stevens’ will, when Brinkley hurt Stevens with an overhand right then decked him with another a little while later.

But by a couple rounds later, Stevens was manning up, to his credit. He still wasn’t boxing the way you’d want him too, but he wasn’t backing down any longer. He won the 9th, I thought. And he came out in the 12th looking for the knockout. Brinkley should have done some serious dodging, but he lived up to his reputation as a fun brawler by going for the knockout himself, and he put Stevens down to close the round. Stevens got up, but he lost by scores of 117-109, 118-108 and 119-107.

Stevens is just 24, and he has those aforementioned gifts, but at some point he kind of needs to learn to be a boxer, you know? Brinkley showed that even a decent athlete can outbox him. And Brinkley — he put on one heck of a performance. Manfredo, Sr. is proving himself a nice trainer, not just the father of a former “Contender” TV star, Manfredo, Jr.; super middleweight prospect Edwin Rodriguez has grown under his tutelage, and clearly Brinkley has also. This fight was called a title eliminator, but only for the #2 ranking with the IBF, so… not a title eliminator, really. I would give Brinkley virtually no chance of beating IBF titlist Lucian Bute, if he gets a shot. But for at least a night, I found myself saying that not only is Brinkley fun, but he’s good, too.


Everyone, myself included, has been high on Lara. He looked fantastic against the level of competition he’s been facing, but he hadn’t fought anyone nearly as good as Brewer. That kind of thing can be an illusion. Put an NBA 12th man in a college game, and he’ll make ruins of nearly everyone on the court and look like a 1st round draft pick.

Lara earned his degree in graduating from prospect to contender, but Brewer showed us that he’s not perfect. Brewer’s trickeration and periodic control of spacing left Lara reaching too often from the outside or getting hit on the inside, where Lara’s instinct is just to cover up. In the 4th, in fact, Lara got staggered twice, and Brewer, with 15 KOs in 26 wins, is no big puncher. So there were a couple vulnerabilities put on display here. No big deal. No boxer is perfect. But Lara is going to have to shore up those vulnerabilities, or else learn to manage them, as he moves up the ladder.

This move up the ladder was a massive one. But Lara won every round other than the 4th, using his speed, sharp overall technique and hard, diverse punching. Brewer gave him static in some of the rounds, but he was cut by a head butt in the 6th that limited his effectiveness for stretches as Lara wisely went after the cut with right hooks to his shredded left eyelid. In the 10th, Brewer leaned down just as Lara was coming at him with a wound-up uppercut, putting Brewer down. Lara went in to flurry his way to a stoppage win, and the referee bought it, even though Brewer wasn’t much hurt; the referee halted the fight.

Lara should stay at about the Brewer level of competition for a fight or two. Brewer is a good, smart veteran, and Lara needs more schooling from those types, I think, before moving on the likes of Sergio Martinez. And the broadcast team pointed out he hasn’t fought many southpaws. He should go find some and beat them first, too. I’m not at all off the Lara bandwagon. He’s just been moved exceptionally quickly, albeit appropriately so, and he shouldn’t accelerate further quite yet.


Nieves figured to be a step up for Avalos, and in the 1st round, it looked like he’d give Avalos a test. Nieves won that round with slick movement and counter-punching, and Avalos, a brawler with some boxing skill and speed, was a tad flummoxed. But he caught up with Nieves in the 2nd, connecting on a left hook and straight right. It was the right idea. You want to slow down a mover-type with combos, not single shots.

And slow down Nieves did. He became a stationary target thereafter, which maybe he did because he was shaken or something. An Avalos uppercut that put Nieves on the floor was mistakenly scored a slip, instead of a second knockdown in the 2nd round. From there, Avalos had no trouble catching Nieves on the ropes and hammering away. In the 4th, Avalos again found a home for his uppercut and stunned Nieves, then put him on the mat with another uppercut and heavy blows to the body. When Nieves rose, Avalos smacked a right upside the top of Nieves head, and he went down again. Nieves got up right at the count of 10, and maybe could have continued had he gotten up a half-second earlier, but the writing was on the wall that he was going to get knocked out easy or knocked out hard. He opted against hard.

Avalos is right on schedule with promoter Gary Shaw, who wanted him to headline a ShoBox card then move on to a Showtime Championship Boxing undercard. He’s being moved fast, but he’s passing each test with only modest resistance. I think a more determined mover-type might give him more trouble than Nieves did, so maybe Shaw should find him one.

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.