For those who might have missed the result from this weekend, former lightweight titlist Nate Campbell suffered a pretty stunning eight-round decision defeat to journeyman Walter Estrada in Las Vegas on Saturday, on the off-TV portion of the Marquez-Katsidis undercard.
Late Saturday night, I said that it was a shame that Campbell never truly got to capitalize on the biggest win of his career, a 2008 upset of then-unbeaten Juan Diaz to claim three lightweight titles. As he dealt with disputes with promoter Don King and the loss of a fight with Joan Guzman, who pulled out last-minute, Campbell actually had to file for bankruptcy despite being at the highest level of his career to date. He had worked very hard to get to where he was, and the politics and unpredictability of boxing all but robbed "The Galaxxxy Warrior" of what he had achieved.
By the time Campbell got back in the ring, he couldn't make the lightweight limit anymore. I've never seen someone so clearly bothered by the fact that he'd felt he'd let people down by not being able to make weight. Though he defeated Ali Funeka in a close bout in February 2009, Campbell lost his belts. He moved up to 140 pounds and looked slow and worn out in a truncated bout with Timothy Bradley in August 2009, but the fight was ruled a no-contest later, as Campbell's cut which stopped the fight had not been caused by a punch. It was the correct ruling, but Campbell still probably lost some luster with the performance, short as it was.
In December 2009, he signed with Golden Boy Promotions to get a new lease on his career. At 37 years of age, he knew time was running out. He fought Victor Ortiz in May, losing a very wide ten-round decision to the younger man, and looking like a fighter who had gone past his expiration date. Campbell just had no motor in the bout. The loss to Estrada sealed it, and Nate knows it.
In a release from Campbell at BoxingScene.com, he says he'll retire.
"First of all, I want to let everyone know that I'm fine. But after thinking about Saturday's fight, I know it's time for me to hang it up. I've reached the point where I can still see the openings, but I just can't get my shots there in time. In this business, a tenth of a second delay is too much. ... I didn't enter this sport to be anyone's opponent. I entered this sport to become a world champion. I am fortunate that I was able to accomplish that goal. I would have liked to continue on to win titles in other divisions, however when your body tells you that it's time to go, then it's time to go. I had hoped that the back rehab I went through after my injury in training camp for the Ortiz fight would have made a difference, however mobility obviously wasn't my only issue, and the rehab couldn't fix my age. As we get older, things slow down a bit, and the 135 and 140 divisions just dont work well for a 38 year old."
Campbell adds that he was very happy with the way he was treated under the Golden Boy banner, and that he hopes he can continue to work with them in some way, and that he'd encourage young fighters to think hard before they sign with anyone else.
We know that fighters don't often stick to retirements, but I get the feeling this one is legit. Nate Campbell is one of the most genuine, honest guys in boxing. He's never refrained from saying what's on his mind, even if that means he publicly goes to war with his promoters. The way he's talking about a retirement is about as honest as I've seen a fighter talk about a retirement.
Campbell got a late start in boxing, turning pro at 28 in 2000, and was undefeated until 2003, when he lost to Joel Casamayor. His infamous KO loss to Robbie Peden in 2004 was probably what he was most famous for until beating Diaz. On the road to Diaz, Campbell had come back from close, disputed loss to Francisco Lorenzo and Isaac Hlatshwaywo to win back-to-back eliminators over Matt Zegan and Ricky Quiles. Almost nobody thought he'd beat Diaz, but he did.
Even if Nate doesn't stay working for Golden Boy in some capacity, there's gotta be something in boxing for him. He's good on TV, as we've seen occasionally on ESPN2, and also on that March Badness boxing/MMA PPV that Roy Jones ran in 2009. I'd love to see Nate get a crack at the open spot on Boxing After Dark where Lennox Lewis used to be. He says that's something he'd like to do, and he's good at it.
I think I speak for pretty much everyone when I say best of luck to Nate Campbell. He gave it his best, climbed the ladder the hard way, always told you what he was really thinking. Here's hoping we see you on TV again, Nate, this time in a suit and tie with a microphone in your hand.