Tavoris Cloud was slated to face Zsolt Erdei on New Year’s Eve before the Hungarian withdrew with an injury, leaving him with no fight. Less than two months later, in steps Gabriel Campillo.
Thus far, Cloud (23-0, 19 knockouts) has steamrolled his way through the light heavyweight division, but Campillo (21-3-1, 8 KOs) hopes to use Cloud’s punching prowess and aggression against him on Saturday, when they meet at the American Bank Center for the IBF title in Corpus Christi, Tex. on Showtime (10 p.m. ET).
“I have a very good defense and the way he attacks and the way he’s open, maybe I’ll knock him out — even though I’m not a puncher,” Campillo told RingTV.com through his promoter and translator Sampson Lewkowicz. “This is extra motivation that I’m fighting on Showtime. I will come out victorious. I’m very proud and I will take advantage of this opportunity.”
The 33-year-old Spaniard is buoyed by training with his manager and mentor – RING middleweight champion Sergio Martinez. This is Campillo’s first camp with “Maravilla,” and he says it has pushed him to new heights.
“It’s all about training and perseverance,” said Campillo, THE RING’s No. 9 light heavyweight. “To be next to Martinez, one of the best pound-for-pound boxers, and to be managed by him, training together, is an unbelievable experience. When I’m tired, it’s give me more power to continue training hard, because no one trains harder than Martinez, not even myself. No one can keep up with him.”
Cloud, for his part, isn’t discounting Campillo entirely, but doesn’t think the former beltholder can match up to him.
“I’ve been in camp for a long time. I didn’t take my opponent lightly and come Saturday night there’s going to be a lot of excitement in the ring,” said Cloud, of Tallahassee, Fla., whose last three fights were victories over Yusaf Mack, Fulgencio Zuniga and Glen Johnson. “Gabriel is a good fighter, but I just don’t think he can take my title. But we’ll see on Saturday night.”
Lewkowicz is very confident that his charge can spring the upset, banking on Campillo’s deft movement and southpaw stance.
“I have no doubt that he will beat him,” said boxing power-broker Lewkowicz. “He’s so big and so strong and has great movement, Campillo can beat him.”
Campillo hopes a title win over THE RING’s No. 2 175-pounder will open up the door for other fighters from his native Spain, where he still resides in Madrid.
“I would be very proud,” said Campillo. “It will open opportunities for other fighters that deserve to be champion from Spain.”
Campillo, best known for his two bouts with Beibut Shumenov, knows he is up against it on Saturday, as he prepares to take on his most stern test to date in Cloud. The underdog role is nothing new to “Chico Guapo,” though. His game plan is to take Cloud to the late rounds, where his conditioning and mettle will take over.
“I’m aware that I’m the underdog, I’ve always been the underdog and I’ve won the title as an underdog,” said Campillo. “Tavoris Cloud has half the gas tank that I have. In the second part of the bout he’ll have nothing left.”
photo by Esther Lin / SHOWTIME