(Photo: Esther Lin, Showtime)
Gabriel Campillo vs. Tavoris Cloud Saturday on Showtime offered the latest, exasperating installment in that phenomenon that is almost unique to boxing: something amazing happens, and then right afterward something so repugnant happens that it washes all the amazing away.
Campillo has a history himself of being involved in these kind of scenarios, and it had to be deja vu for him to once more find himself the recipient of a loss he didn't deserve. The bad-luck light heavyweight heroically recovered from a two-knockdown 1st round to lay a serious beating on Cloud, yet one judge had it 116-110 for Cloud. Eight rounds. For Cloud. Somehow. The robbery was disgusting. That scorecard was obscene.
The excellent undercard fight -- and horrendous ending -- overshadowed a main event that saw Paul Williams look a touch rejuvenated, albeit in a win against a third-tier junior middleweight in Nobuhiro Ishida. And all his flaws remain there to be exploited by a first-tier junior middleweight, if not a second-tier one.
GABRIEL CAMPILLO-TAVORIS CLOUD
It's not that the fight was totally one-sided for Campillo. Those two knockdowns in the 1st put Campillo in a big hole. But he recovered in the 2nd and won almost all the rest of the rounds, one of the bigger turnarounds you'll see in a boxing match. I gave Cloud three more of them -- the 4th, 6th and 12th -- but my scorecard of 114-112 for Campillo was among the more generous I could find. The fact is, even in rounds where Cloud landed some big punches, Campillo dominated him.
And he didn't just dominate him with pretty, soft counterpunches in volume that far surpassed Cloud's fewer, heavier shots. No, Campillo put an ass-whooping on Cloud. Cloud was bleeding out of his mouth and cuts around the eyes. Campillo was landing mean combinations that did serious damage. What's more, it was accompanied by as nifty a boxing exhibition as you'll see in forever. Cloud was completely baffled. The slow-handed and slow-footed Cloud isn't a sophisticated boxer himself, so the difference in skill and speed was even more pronounced.
Campillo can't catch a break -- he deserved that decision win over Beibut Shumenov in their rematch a couple years ago, one of the worst robberies of 2010. This one was just as bad, if not worse. Campillo did something remarkable Saturday. The official record will say he did not.
This is no knock on Cloud, mind you. A fighter like Campillo was always going to stand a chance of doing something like this to Cloud, outboxing and outquicking him thoroughly. Cloud never stopped coming, and his power and determination are going to make him a threat to even quicker and more skilled fighters, plus his style will always supply action.
And yeah, Campillo took the 12th round off when he shouldn't have. But even if he'd won it -- without seeing the 114-112 card for Cloud that was at least in the ballpark -- the best he could've done was a draw.
The state of Texas is on a multi-weak streak of actions that turn the stomach. First there was the drug testing debacle for the Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fight. Friday on ESPN2, we heard about a Texas rule that allows a boxer to weigh 15 pounds more than he should, and even though Shawn Estrada exceeded even THAT rule and weighed 196 pounds for a super middleweight fight, the bout was allowed to go forward. And while boxing robberies happen in every state and every country, they rarely are as pronounced as the kind they manufacture in the Lone State State.
In the sports world, nothing can compete with boxing's highs. But then, nothing can compete with its lows, either.
PAUL WILLIAMS-NOBUHIRO ISHIDA
The concern for several consecutive fights -- first the shaky Kermit Cintron win, then the Sergio Martinez rematch where he was the victim of the Knockout of the Year, then the underwhelming Erislandy Lara performance -- was that Williams has become damaged goods. He didn't look like it against Ishida Saturday; there's boxing left yet in Williams. The problem is, all of his flaws are still in his bones, too.
Ishida couldn't capitalize on them. Ishida can't punch, as his poor knockout record shows. And Ishida is not a real contender for anything. He's a respectable enough fighter but has some habits that hold him back, like a tendency to stand around and wait for openings, then not seize them. Williams gave Ishida nothing but openings; as always he lunged needlessly with his punches and was constantly in poor position. The combined effect of this was that when Ishida did do something about the openings, which was rare, he couldn't hit hard enough to hurt P-Will.
Williams couldn't hurt Ishida either. I don't think that's Williams' fault. Ishida, as I noted in my preview, is a sturdy fighter. Williams both punched with authority and landed cleanly. Those punches were sometimes sloppy, but that's what you get when you have a volume puncher who throws nearly 1,000 punches a fight, like Williams did Saturday. Williams is so determined to throw and throw and throw that he even was trying to hit Ishida when, at one point, Ishida was nearly throwing him over the top ring rope.
So Williams put on a pretty good performance, all in all, but the level of opposition has to be considered. He mentioned wanting to fight Chavez, or Saul Alvarez, or Martinez again. A Martinez trilogy is a terrible idea, absent P-Will getting a much better win than the one over Ishida or Martinez showing serious signs of decline. I could get behind the first couple fights. I wonder if Williams is just vulnerable enough, and has just enough of a name, to make him a viable opponent for either man -- although Williams having Al Haymon in his camp will make Top Rank's Bob Arum reluctant to put Chavez in against P-Will. Either way, I used to be worried that my man P-Will was totally done. He showed signs of life Saturday.