(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.
LOL, Tim. Watch out for the tangang (stupid) Pactards who'll be rushing now to defend Tavoris Cloud, saying that you can't run and beat the champion.
Ohwait, there's already one below my comment. LOL!I had it 115-111 for Campillo. And you know what, Tim, I watched the fight with an open tab to a live thread on boxingscene, and as early as the 11th round, most of the posters were unanimously raving all over Chico Guapo WHILE repeatedly chanting a "Robbery, Incoming!" predictions. And they turned out to be right!How terrible must it be for a sport when you can watch one fight and see one guy dominating and at the same time, KNOW that he is going to get robbed because 1) he doesn't have a name as big as his opponent's, 2) he's experienced it before, 3) it's in Texas, and 4) it's promoted by Don King.
Speaking of the boxing devil: right after Cloud was announced the winner and Jim Gray hovered closer to interview him, you could clearly hear Don King laughing so wholeheartedly over the BOOs of the people.
@caguioaness I was worried about the potential for a robbery too. I thought Campillo wasn't worried enough about it with that 11th round.
But yeah. The whole "running" thing is insane, overall but especially in this case. Campillo moved forward just as much as Cloud, really.
You can't run and beat the champion. Remember when Dela Hoya lost because he took the round off lost the fight that he was winning? Also, this is why Mayweather slugged it out with Dela Hoya in the last round because he knows that you have to win that last round. Also, styles impress judges. Till today the you have Sugar Ray versus Hagler debate. Do you give it to the hard hitter or the shoe shinner?
@RonB He only "ran" the last round, while incidentally tagging his opponent (with ease). It is not that he ran away. He still landed the cleaner shots. There is just no way around it, Campillo got robbed, plain and simple. Cloud was comprehensively exposed, and the rumbling nonsense he talked after the fight can easily be explained by those head-snapping uppercuts he received courtesy of Campillo.
@RonB I don't get it. He comprehensively outboxed Cloud but must loose the fight because he did a little show-boating in the end? And he was right to, because he could be proud of himself after this awesome performance against the supposed superstar
Alright, allow me to dissent. Forget the scorecards for a minute. Yes giving Cloud 8 rounds (116-110) is indefensible and that guy should never score judge another professional fight. Calling it 6-6 (114-112) was pretty much implausible. BUT I don't think a tally of 7-5 for Campillo is outrageous at all, if you give him the rounds you gave him, plus the 11th which I thought Cloud edged with strong work in the last minute and I saw a few others score that for Cloud, you'd come up with a 112-112 draw. I know it sucks. Campillo dominated his rounds while Cloud barely eked his (and obviously didn't in more than a few people's minds). I personally gave Campillo the 12th on that strong flurry at the end and came away 114-112 for Campillo. But the fact that a draw is a viable score, I would frame it as this: Campillo was robbed of a fair account by the judges, but unequivocally robbed of taking Cloud's championship belt? I would say no.
@JFoley Well, I would disagree that a 7-5 Campillo win isn't "outrageous at all" given how I saw the fight. I had it 9-3 and might concede to 8-4 if I give the benefit of the doubt to Cloud. The "benefit of the doubt" INCLUDES the fact that Cloud was the champion and therefore Campillo has to outperform him to take the belt.
In the end, what Cloud defenders are forced to argue is that the two scores in Cloud's favor were "pretty much implausible" and "indefensible" BUT if you squint really hard and give Cloud every benefit of the doubt you could see it as a draw. If that's the best that can be done then it's hard to conclude anything less than Campillo was robbed.
@CTRSteve I think it's one of those complicated conundrums where yes, Campillo got screwed because those scorecards clearly indicated that he didn't get a fair shake (there's no way Cloud won 8 rounds, just not even possible and giving Cloud 6 rounds is an incredible leap, just barely within the realm of possibility). But while he was jobbed in a way, did he definitively deserve to wrest the title? I don't believe he did. I thought he won the fight but with a close round that could have gone to Cloud and made it a draw. Point is, I think it's hard to say "Gabriel Campillo absolutely deserves to be the IBF champion right now" when one guy edging a couple tight rounds makes it a draw.
@tstarks Fair enough. I don't disagree with you on that much, I think he got totally screwed by those 4-8, 6-6 cards, but had they been 7-5, 7-5 majority draw, I don't think it would have been an utter travesty, injustice, mockery, etc. That's all. Also, dug up an old piece of yours on the art of the ring entrances. Enjoyed it very much. F*** all this subjective scoring crap we can all agree that a man's stroll into the ring is one of the seminal moments of a boxing event.
@JFoley@tstarks I didn't think the 11th was close. I didn't think Campillo was rocked the way some people did. But let's say the 11th was close, for argument's sake. Generally speaking, if every close round goes to one guy and not the other -- and I truly believe I was extra-generous to Cloud with my own score -- then "robbery" is a fair claim.
The conditions you cite -- the other guy's turf, the other guy's belt -- shouldn't matter from a judging standpoint. They might have been factors in the judge's minds anyway. But that's unjust.
Should Campillo have taken the 12th off like he did? Absolutely not. Just because an injustice was done to him doesn't mean he shouldn't have taken more safeguards to ensure against it.
@tstarks Now did Campillo whup his ass? Hell yeah he did, he busted him up in those middle rounds, much more dominant rounds than any of the ones Cloud won, aside from the 1st. But by the round-by-round scoring system, did he definitively win the boxing match? That's more complicated.
@tstarks Tim, you yourself had were only one round away from scoring a draw and thankfully you don't need to use your imagination on what other round was close, it was the 11th. For the first 30 seconds, Cloud stalked and Campillo did nothing. Then from :30 to 1:30, Campillo lit him up again with a bunch of sharp combos and rattled him. Then the referee stopped it to have Cloud's cut checked out and when it resumed, the last 87 seconds of the round, Campillo again didn't throw many punches and started clowning. Cloud popped him with a right hand and a few jabs and then caught him with a big right hand toward the end of that sequence. It was entirely conceivable to score the 11th for Cloud and many people did. And in the 12th, Campillo did nothing for 2 minutes and 50 seconds. I'm sorry, but you took a 10-7 rd in the first, you're basically on another guy's turf and certainly the B-side of the fight, trying to take a champion's belt, you can't take 4 1/2 minutes off in the championship rounds. So I don't have much sympathy and I think a draw's a plausible score.
It was nice to see Williams in the ring again, even though all he did was what he was supposed to do. Despite the one-sided nature of the affair, Williams looks pretty much finished to me. He might be able to hang around beating up the likes of Ishida, but what's the point of that? A change in his corner is a must, but it's not going to happen. And would he really respond to a fresh voice at this point in his career? He might as well take the biggest money fight available and take his leave. Nothing left to prove, nothing were proving is realistic either.
Bart Barry tweeted that scores for Cloud - Campillo were much closer at ringside. But even close scores should have tallied in favour of the challenger. There's no way Cloud deserved that win. Fucking boxing.
@jet79 "Fucking boxing." Don't know how often I say or think that.
I don't object to your career path for Williams. I'm not sure he's "finished." What did you see that was any different about him?
@tstarks Didn't see anything different, and that's the problem. He tried to get Ishida out of there, but all that did was highlight his persistent flaws. I don't think he's finished as in "shot." I just wonder what's the point of containing a career in so dangerous a sport if your membership in the elite fraternity has expired? Unless of course, there is an opportunity to make some really good money one last time. Boxing doesn't work this way, I understand that, and perhaps I'm erring too far on the side of caution, but I've always liked Williams - I want him to have the happiest ending possible.
Watched the replay this morning and immediately came here to read your commentary. I'm certainly no expert but there was no doubt in my mind that Campillo dominated the fight. It's a shame to see an athlete put on a scintillating performance and have it erased by ignorance. I have no idea how some judges keep getting hired.
@CTRSteve Thanks for comin' round first thing.
No doubt in my mind either. Whether you're an expert or not, I don't think anyone doubts that Campillo deserved this one.
Hey Tim, Entertaining night of action, which we desperatly needed after a slow start to the year. The Klitschko v Chisora fight was as competitive as a Klitschko has been in years, although Chisora's prefight tactics were bitchesh(slap,spit). Speaking of bitches, Haye can piss off. Loved the effort put forth from Campillo, I just hope he gets some more TV love cause he makes for fun fights, but what the he'll happened that first rd. Looked scared from the first second. Recovered well but still. Williams is a robot to his faults at this point and needs a new trainer if he has any chance of adapting and adjusting his style a bit to lengthen his career. Well done as always Tim, back to the bottle.
@scottchristianson4 Haye CAN piss off. Times two.
I have no idea what Campillo was so scared of to start.
Williams and his trainer are delusional about what's wrong with him.
Hope the bottle treated you well later that night.