Nate Campbell heads back to Russia on Septmeber 25. (Photo by John Gichigi/Bongarts/Getty Images)
WBO middleweight titlist Dmitry Pirog will be back in the ring on September 25 in Russia, facing Gennady Martirosyan in Krasnodar. It will be Pirog's second defense of the title in Russia, after he defeated Javier Maciel in March.
Alexey Sukachev also reports that 39-year-old American lightweight Nate Campbell will be heading to Russia for the show, facing prospect Khabib Allakhverdiev.
Pirog (18-0, 14 KO) became a buzzworthy fighter in July 2010 when he knocked out hot American prospect Daniel Jacobs on the Marquez vs Diaz II pay-per-view. But he's fallen back into relative obscurity since then, taking nine months off before facing the unknown Maciel, who gave him a tougher fight than most expected.
Martirosyan (22-2, 11 KO) is ridiculously ranked as the No. 1 contender for the WBO, so the fight serves a purpose. The 31-year-old Armenian has apparently "earned" that ranking based on his current win streak over Leonti Vorontsuk, Miguel Angel Pena, Aziz Daari, Vitor Sa, and Valentin Antonio Ochoa. All of those fights have taken in place in Russia, where his career is based.
It's not a competitive fight on paper, but neither was Pirog vs Maciel.
Campbell (34-8-1, 25 KO) has seen his career fall apart since his big 2008 win over Juan Diaz in Mexico. First, Joan Guzman left him hanging, which led to Campbell declaring bankruptcy. Then, he was overweight for a fight with Ali Funeka, which was a makeshift HBO main event in February 2009, and despite winning a tough fight, lost his belts. Moving up, he clearly wasn't the same fighter. Timothy Bradley battered him before the fight was called a no-contest due to a cut from a headbutt, and he then lost three straight to Victor Ortiz, Walter Estrada, and Danny Garcia. He did when his last fight, when he went to Russia with Roy Jones Jr in May, and he looked better against Garcia than he had against Bradley, Ortiz and Estrada.
He's now trying one last run at 135 pounds, and I wish Nate all the best. He's about as honest as a fighter gets, has always spoken his mind, and deserved better.
His opponent Allakhverdiev (14-0, 6 KO) is a 28-year-old southpaw who will be taking a step up in competition no matter how shop-worn Campbell is these days.