PASCUA YAQUI NATION – It was a bitter hard fight, but there were no personal hard feelings after Luis Ramon “Yori Boy” Campas edged out a highly questionable 10 round unanimous decision over a surprising Norberto “Nito” Bravo on Saturday evening.

Both men had plenty of moments in a whapathon where inspiring toe to toe combinations had a screaming crowd of around 4,444 on their feet during many frames at Casino del Sol’s outdoor AVA Amphitheater. If the Telefutura broadcast came off anywhere near as exciting as the live contest, each 36-year-old headliner should have earned more lucrative, higher profile future engagements.

“I’m not discouraged because he’s a former champion,” said Bravo after embracing his opponent, ”I thought I was on top, but I don’t know what to say because my emotions are running wild. I can’t be any happier right now, I’ve been in there with the best. There’s only room for me to get even better than what you saw tonight. Give me some damn credit too.”

“After a fight like this, he’s earned the right to say whatever he believes,” admitted Campas, who’s been there, done that a hundred times now. “I thought I’d be able to stop him, but he was stronger than I thought. That doesn’t mean he won though. I was throwing more hard punches.”

The boxers made their way into the ring without fanfare, a thousand people still in the endless beer line street.

Punching pace was brisk from the start.

Campas, 154, was more used to fighting in this weight class. Bravo, 153 ½, looked smaller, but he conceded nothing in the push and shove department.

Campas now 90-10 (72Ks), looked much fresher than his lengthy resume might indicate. When he slammed in vintage lefts to the ribs he still looked capable of stopping many foes.

Both men showed up in excellent condition. Bravo, 24-14-3 (13) didn’t blink when Campas dug in, but it looked like he wanted to.

With the temperature over 100 degrees and much higher than usual humidity, it was a draining affair for both fighters.

Bravo looked quicker and reddened Campas’s nose with inside counters. Bravo landed a series of rights that didn’t really rock Campas, but scored points.

Campas controlled the distance effectively in round three and forced Bravo into a defensive posture on the ropes. Bravo didn’t have the firepower to really hurt Campas, but he kept Campas off with stinging left-rights that had Campas on his heels.

Each fighter could claim success by the midway point. Campas drove Bravo against the strands more and more but Bravo seemed to outpunch him in many exchanges. It came down to a matter of power (Campas) versus percentage (Bravo).

Bravo complained often to referee Rocky Burke about low landing leather. The protests paid off when Burke deducted a point from Campas for marginal infractions in round six.

Action blasted off from then on as numerous back and forth volleys got the crowd on their feet. Campas’s face began to swell, as usual. Bravo was unmarked. Both men looked exhausted by the final bell.

All judges (Ester Lopez, Joe Perez, Lorenzo Saiz) saw the same result, at 95-94 for Campas.

The crowd was almost unanimously behind Bravo from the start, which could explain the overwhelming boos at the verdict. The Sweet Science had it 97-93 Bravo.

Bravo has managed to do pretty well for himself and kept the local spotlight for more than just his Warholian fifteen minutes, which is about 14:59 than most of us get anyway. After the match, a swarm of loyalists indicated Bravo’s hometown stock didn’t slip.

Bravo handled the disappointment with fine public sportsmanship and held nothing against Campas, but there was pissed off fire in his eyes.

“That’s bull^*#^, I should have won,” fumed Bravo as he headed from the ring, “I’m not saying I shut him out, but I won most of the rounds. The first rounds were study rounds; I was kind of cautious because the guy has so many knockouts. I thought he was gonna hit like a damn semi, but I was able to take his punches. Don’t get me wrong, the guy’s got sting, but I’ve been trying to prove something to the boxing world and I think I did that tonight. I just hope I get the chance to show more of what I can do.”

“I respect all fighters but I wasn’t really motivated for this fight,” said a business as usual Campas, who looked unfazed afterward. “It’s a good thing I trained hard, because he was well prepared. I’m just hoping to keep fighting respectable opponents until a good payday comes along, then I’ll probably retire next year.”

Road warrior Campas didn’t buy into the fanfare of his ballyhooed 100th appearance as anything more than another night at the office.

“He already had (at least) two more knockouts in Mexico that weren’t recorded,” said colorful manager Joe Diaz. “I know because I was there.”

Each man earned a reported $13,000 bucks, and both earned every penny. The veterans produced an “A” level bout.

There was little mention of a rematch, not at all because the action wasn’t worth repeating. It simply seemed this was a unique, one time only event. Everything meshed in a fine fistic fiesta, under a blazing sunset panorama of comforting clouds.

Hopefully it was a good sign for both weary participants, who exchanged postfight props in the dressing room then headed off to different dining locations in a packed, pulsating casino scene. It seems, hopefully, both men got a boost in their late stages game.

Sometimes though, fistic justice is incomplete.

Campas and Bravo each deserved to hit a gleaming jackpot, like the one they gave to boxing fans tonight.