Last night on ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” Isaac Hlatshwayo remained undefeated as he squeaked past seasoned Nate Campbell in a thrilling 12-round split decision.
Campbell looked extremely quick in the opening round of the fight, slipping and landing punches frequently. Hlatshwayo remained composed, picking and choosing his shots, with some spurts of nice combinations. Campbell then began to establish a nice right hand to the body. Round one, of course, was a feeling out process… even.
Campbell built on his success by starting the body work right at the start of the second. Hlatshwayo attempted to answer back but Campbell continued to block and slip, landing even harder right hand body shots along the way. Campbell continued his assault to the body en route to a shutout second round.
The third opened with Hlatshwayo landing some beautiful combinations. As the round progressed he began to establish a crisp, clean jab. Hlatshwayo began to slip and land much more frequently than in any other round. A truly brilliant round for Hlatshwayo, as he continued to pick and choose his shots, landing more sweet combos.
Campbell came back in the fourth, establishing his jab and using his speed to make Hlatshwayo miss as he used his legs to maneuver around the squared circle. The evasive Campbell continued to slip and counter with excellent body work.
The fifth was more of the same. Campbell began to establish his jab along with the continual body shots which were apparently working. Campbell continued to slip and move, throwing in spurts as he hopped around the ring like a lightweight version of a prime Roy Jones.
Round number six proved to be the pivotal turning point of the fight. Hlatshwayo finally began to put on some pressure. Hlatshwayo landed some vicious combinations in spurts throughout the entire round.
The seventh showed Hlatshwayo being the much busier fighter, landing combinations and countering the fatiguing Campbell. Campbell tried to answer back with some more body shots but to no effect as Hlatshwayo continued to blast away with devastating combinations.
At the start of the round eight, Hlatshwayo once again began to establish his jab. Campbell put on some pressure with body shots but Hlatshwayo came back at the end of the round with a series of nice 1-2 punches.
Once again in the ninth Hlatshwayo came out right away with a crisp jab. Hlatshwayo was setting a brisk pace, and Campbell was in no mood to keep up as he stayed inactive. Hlatshwayo continued to land with serious combinations as Campbell continued to walk right in, hands down, not throwing any punches.
The tenth openedwith some superb combinations by Hlatshwayo. The round went back and fourth for a while, alternating between sweet combinations by Hlatshwayo and great body work from Campbell. Campbell then went back to coming straight forward without throwing at all. As a result, Hlatshwayo was able to pick his punches and land basically at will. As the round came to a close, a desperate Campbell turned wild, missing with hydrogen bombs. Meanwhile, Hlatshwayo stayed cool, calm and collected as he kept his punches, clean, hard and crisp.
The eleventh opened with Campbell – knowing the fight was slipping away – coming on strong, keeping close quarters, and infighting while utilizing his effective body shots. Campbell continued to keep Hlatshwayo against the ropes. Campbell continued to pound away to the body on his way to taking the round.
The final round began like the the eleventh. Campbell came out hard and strong, once again with nice body work, but Hlatshwayo answered right back with some brutal combinations, staggering Campbell. Campbell charged in wildly, getting caught hard along the way. Hlatshwayo closed the round, as well as the fight, with some more great combinations.
One judge scored the bout 115-113 for Campbell, another scored the fight 116-112 for Hlatshwayo, and the third judge scored the bout 117-111 for Hlatshwayo. Announcer and world-class trainer Teddy Atlas saw the bout 115-114 for Hlatshwayo. The Sweet Science had the fight 116-113 for Hlatshwayo.
In only his third fight in America, Hlatshwayo, 25-0 (9 KO’s) proved to the world that he was not just another overrated prospect as he defeated the very tough and able Nate Campbell, 28-5-1 (24 KO’s).
Hlatshwayo currently stands in the top ten ranking in all four of the major alphabet soup organizations which means a title shot shouldn’t be too far in the distance. I personally believe a fighter like Diego Corrales would be made to order for Hlatshwayo, who seems to be at his best when fighters come straight at him.