Here's a quick look at Tavoris Cloud before his fight on Saturday against Gabriel Campillo. This is good stuff.
"I'm gonna make a statement that I am a vicious champion and I refuse to be defeated. You can train as long as you want, you can train as hard as you want. It just ain't gonna help you. Real serious inside of my head right now. We do somethin' called Kill-a-Bitch Training. This ain't regular training for a regular 12-round fight. ... I can't even come to the gym and say the wrong thing. They say, 'Get your mind right.' I'm in a good place because I am world champion. Guys are refusing to fight me, and they come up with every excuse in the book. They don't wanna deal with my promoter, things like that. But I know it's B.S."
"Campillo's coming to take my title. I'm offended. That's why he's in for a nightmare. Armageddon. Need to get your ass in the ring, let's get this over with."
Tavoris Cloud has been on HBO, he's been on TV a few times now, but he's still not well-known. And as much as I like his attitude here (and in general), let's break down some legitimate reasons he's been avoided, and he's right: He's been avoided a little bit, in that he hasn't been in the discussion for the true biggest fights at 175.
People don't want to deal with Don King. He has a habit of asking for a bunch of options on everyone else's fighters if his guy is the A-side. When Cloud signed with Don King, I had a mixed reaction at best. Yes, he was getting away from a very small-time promoter who could really do nothing more with a talented fighter, but King has been shoved down the list of relevant American promoters so far that it's kind of like going from Single-A to Triple-A at this point. King sits on fighters, doesn't put on many cards, and just isn't much of a promoter anymore. He can wave all the flags he wants, but he's behind Top Rank, Golden Boy, Gary Shaw, Goossen Tutor, DiBella, and Main Events at this point.
There's a reason that everyone who gets to a certain level under contract with Don King in the last half-decade or so eventually leaves or becomes massively frustrated with their career. This is a big part of that reason.
His Lack of Fanbase
This isn't Cloud's fault -- it goes back to the way he's been promoted. Cloud is a guy from Tallahassee, FL, who has fought in Florida a grand total of three times in his career: His pro debut, and fights in 2009 and 2010 with Clinton Woods and Fulgencio Zuniga. He spent a lot of time fighting in Chicago before he got with King, and while Chicago has a decent local fanbase for boxing, it's not a major stage city in the sport anymore. His last two TV fights have been in Missouri, because that's where King does most of his biggest cards. This fight is in Texas.
This is part of it, too. He's good, and when you add that to his promoter that people don't love to deal with and his lack of fans, it adds up to a typical boxing problem: He's good, no one knows him still, and his promoter is a pain.
Don't count out Gabriel Campillo this weekend. I highly doubt Campillo will win, because Cloud's an aggressive, come-forward fighter and likely to impress the judges with that even if he gets outboxed, but there's a very real chance that Campillo can and will pick him apart on Saturday. This is a legit fight, a very good fight, and both deserve credit for taking it. There's no guarantee in this one.