Tavoris Cloud called it a bad night.
The IBF light heavyweight titleholder floored his opponent, Gabriel Campillo, twice in the first round but failed to finish him off. Over the course of the remainder of their Showtime-televised bout, however, Cloud’s southpaw rival from Spain built momentum.
Campillo employed lateral movement behind his jab and pounded home head-swiveling combinations that sliced open cuts around each of Cloud’s eyes.
After 12 exciting rounds, Cloud emerged victorious with an unpopular split-decision, winning 116-110 (eight-to-four in rounds), and, 114-112 (six-to-six) on the cards of judges David Robertson and Joel Elizondo, respectively. Judge Dennis Nelson had it for Campillo, 115-111.
So overwhelmed was Cloud’s mother, Emma Smith, that she fainted in the ring after the fight, but recovered soon after.
Nicknamed “Thunder,” Cloud remained unbeaten at 24-0 with 19 knockouts following the fourth defense of the belt he won by unanimous decision over Clinton Woods in August of 2009.
A former WBA titleholder, Campillo (21-4-1, 8 KOs) had split bouts with Beibut Shumenov, the man who currently holds that version of the belt.
Feeling that he’s an avoided fighter, Cloud had hoped for a more decisive victory against Campillo that would force potential bouts against Shumenov, WBC beltholder Bernard Hopkins, unbeaten WBO titleholder Nathan Cleverly or even once-beaten former champ Jean Pascal.
Did Cloud’s sub-par performance make those bouts even more likely? Cloud addressed that question as well as others below.
RingTV.com: How is your mother doing?
Tavoris Cloud: She’s doing fine. She was just really excited and overcome with emotions, but she’s fine. She just needed some air and they got her into a calm environment, but she’s okay.
RTV: How about the cuts over your eyes?
TC: My eyes are okay. They’ll be okay and I’ll be back in the ring in no time. I was getting caught with the laces of his gloves when he was throwing upper cuts.
That’s how those cuts opened up. They were on both eyes. I was able to get stitches. I probably got two in each of the eyes.
RTV: Had you ever encountered that sort of adversity in a fight before?
TC: I’ve been cut in fights before, but never over both eyes. But, you know, actually a cut is a small thing when I’m trying to win a fight. It will take more than a cut to stop Tavoris Cloud.
RTV: On a scale of 1-to-10, how do you rate your performance?
TC: I would say that I’d give myself a 7. This wasn’t my best performance. I could have done a lot more in there that night. It’s just how fights go sometimes.
Some nights, you can be hot, some nights, you can be cold. It’s like playing for the Miami Heat. You know, some days, you’re on, and some days, you ain’t.
RTV: Was Campillo’s southpaw style a problem for you?
TC: I don’t think that it was his style, because I think that it was the blood in my eyes. I could still see, and I could still catch him with jabs and land shots.
But I think that it was more the blood in my eyes that was giving me some problems in there. But if you’re asking about his southpaw style, I don’t feel like I have a problem with southpaws.
RTV: Given that you have felt that you have been avoided because you’re a dangerous fighter, do you believe that your performance against Campillo may make rivals more apt to want to face you now?
TC: Well, they say that everything happens for a reason. You know, I had a bad night. So maybe this fight right here with Gabriel Campillo will make guys actually come out and start to fight Tavoris Cloud.
You know, it can work either way. At first, I was my own achilles heel because I was winning so big and beating guys up.
Now that I’ve had a bad night, maybe they see that Cloud can have an off night. They see that, maybe it will cause guys to go ahead and accept the challenge.
RTV: Do you feel as if you won the fight, and also, what did you learn about yourself that you can improve on?
TC: Yeah, first of all, I did think I won the fight. Gabriel Campillo, I had him knocked out in the first round. He was finished. Because when the referee came into the dressing room before the fight, the referee said that there are no standing eight counts.
Well, when we got in there the first round, and I dropped him, the referee pulled me out of the way and started to give him an eight count. I mean, that’s the fight right there. You know, but, I always learn a lot from all of my fights. Gabriel Campillo, he’s a good fighter and I wish him the best in his boxing career. That’s it.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org