They call Timothy Bradley the “Desert Storm” because he lives in the always-hot Palm Springs area. They call Nate Campbell “Galaxxy Warrior” because he’s always willing to mix it up and that was the name of his former gym.
A few years ago not only Bradley fought out of Riverside County but so did Campbell; they worked alongside a bunch of young local guys, giving them tips and sparring.
Things change, but not attitudes.
Bradley still possesses that need to prove his skills and Campbell still has that thirst for respect among his peers. Both will be defending their world titles on Sat. Sept. 13, at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Miss. if it doesn’t get stormed over.
The fight card will be televised on Showtime.
As an amateur, Bradley though rather small in height, fought as a junior middleweight and usually held his own against the much taller and seemingly stronger individuals he confronted in tournaments nationwide and internationally.
So it’s no surprise that Bradley was able to beat Junior Witter for the coveted WBC junior welterweight title in his first crack at the championship. At least it was no surprise to Southern Californians.
You see, aside from the few Showbox fight cards where Bradley imposed a rudimentary ground attack he learned from sparring with tough Mexicans from both sides of the border, he also can box and move with blazing speed. Fight fans at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California often saw him slip into overdrive against many opponents and leave them in the dust with his speed.
Poor Witter, when he saw tapes of Bradley he wasn’t shown those Ontario shows, he only saw the fight clips from Santa Barbara County. It was the case of the missing tapes that proved his undoing or a magnificent coverup by American agents.
That night Witter met Bradley in the ring the feared English boxer looked at the American’s record, and saw he was only 5-6 in height. He'd probably had an extra lager the night before, he was so overconfident.
Poor chap was thoroughly surprised when Bradley hit him with a one-two in the opening round. He must have thought it was a flashback of his fight with Zab Judah eight years ago. Quickly he realized that the Southern California boxer was fighting at 90 miles an hour, not the perceived 60-mile an hour speed projected on the tapes.
For years Witter had chased England’s favorite son Ricky Hatton for naught. Meanwhile though his speed remained, his competitive drive was drying up after not having much of a problem with those junior welters he was facing in the ring. And when he faced Bradley he quickly realized he couldn’t reach back for that extra gear.
Bradley’s knockdown of Witter cinched the fight. Now he’s the WBC titleholder and facing a prizefighter who lately has been taking scalps from slick boxers.
“I was confident going into the ring that I was going to win the title. I’d worked too long,” said Bradley (22-0, 11 KOs) who recently turned 25. “Witter is a good fighter but it was my time.”
Edner Cherry (24-5-2, 12 KOs) in his last three bouts knocked out two opponents. All of them were slick and stick boxers.
“I’m not respected by a lot of people,” Cherry said. “I’m going to do damage to whoever they put in front of me because I want my title.”
With an aggressive pressure style, Cherry has been able to grind out victories against any fighter who stays in front of him. But boxers who move and use their legs to get out of range or make him pivot, have had more success. Bradley hopes by using movement he can defend his world title.
“I have to box smart because I know he has a lot of experience,” said Bradley during a conference call. “I’ve seen his videos and I know he does a lot of tricks in there.”
Florida’s Nate Campbell defends his three world title against Dominican Joan Guzman who has never been defeated.
“This is another hard fight,” said Campbell (32-5-1, 25 KOs) who trained in Riverside, California for a short few months in 2003. “I want to fight this like I’m not the champion.”
It seemed Campbell was never going to get another title opportunity after losing to Robbie Peden during a mental lapse where he stuck his chin out and dared the Aussie to hit him.
Even after consecutive elimination bout victories Campbell was always given a reason why he didn’t deserve a world title shot. Then came undefeated Juan Diaz who held three world titles and was fearless. Campbell beat Diaz and has the WBO, WBA and IBF titles.
“Nate Campbell is a phenomenon,” said Don King one of the co-promoters. “What he did with Juan Diaz no one could ever believe.”
Once again he faces another undefeated boxer in Guzman, a boxer with silky smooth moves and quick-to-the eye combinations. Not many pick Campbell to emerge victorious.
“Well, I came up the hard way,” says Campbell about not receiving respect from boxing experts and opponents. “You don’t have to give me respect, I’ll take it.”
While others ask for Pacquiao, the Florida veteran asks for respect. He knows that Guzman is a superior fighter and that regardless of the lack of fan recognition, this is a bigger fight than any of the other lightweight bouts.
Ever since the speedy Guzman humiliated Mexico’s Humberto Soto and easily defeated Argentina’s Jorge Barrios, the 130-pound division boxers began finding reasons not to oppose him in the ring.
“I became accustomed to fighters dropping out for whatever reasons,” said Guzman, who is trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. in Las Vegas. “It’s always something I think about when a fight gets signed.”
The Dominican probably hasn’t kept up with Campbell’s career or else he would know that the current titleholder is another who is avoided. When they converge in the ring on Saturday, it will be Guzman’s lickety-split boxing style against Campbell’s fast bombs from every angle.
“I’m just thrilled that Campbell had no intention of dropping from this fight,” said Guzman, 32.
Campbell knows the feeling and invites the challenge of beating another boxer without a loss.
“I think his style works for me,” said Campbell confidently. “I look at guys and break them down on almost a cellular level…we’ll see what happens.”