Campbell Rallies To Defeat Funeka
Angulo Stops Rivera; Martinez, Cintron Draw

By Nat Gottlieb Courtesy of

Nothing has ever come easy for Nate Campbell. Abandoned by his parents as a kid, he lived in 15 foster homes and attended 15 different schools growing up. He was working as a box cutter for Winn-Dixie on the graveyard shift in Jacksonville at age 24 when he decided to take up boxing. Last year he won his first world championship at age 35, and then lost his three belts on the scales when he failed to make weight for his fight Saturday night against South African Ali Funeka. Going into the late rounds, it looked like the tall South African’s busier work rate was winning the fight, but then Campbell dug down deep and finished strong in the final three rounds -- including an 11th round knockdown -- to win a majority decision, 115-111, a 114-112 and 113-113.

Campbell (33-5-1, 25 KOs), who announced before the fight he would be moving up from lightweight to the junior welterweight division, acknowledged to HBO commentator Max Kellerman that his struggle to make weight in the final week before the fight affected him. “Yes, I was tired,” Campbell said. “I worked my whole life to become a world champion and then my body said no more. I lost my titles on the scales. I apologize to my fans. Now I have to win a title at 140 pounds.”

Funeka (30-2-2, 25 KOs), a freakish 6’1” lightweight who was the only one eligible to win the belts, was knocked down in the second round, but then used his height and reach advantage to keep the fight at a distance to roll up points in the middle rounds as the busier fighter -- although he never hurt Campbell. Entering the 10th round, Campbell’s body work started to slow down the lanky Funeka, and then a huge overhand right by Campbell put him down for the second time and turned the tide for Campbell.

In the opening fight on the tripleheader, rising star Alfredo Angulo (15-0, 12 KOs) suffered a bad cut over his right eye in round one from what was ruled a punch but replays showed to be a head butt. That meant that if the fight was stopped on cuts, Angulo would suffer his first defeat. The 26-year-old Mexican did not lose his composure against late sub and tough veteran Cosme Rivera (31-12-2, 22 KOs). Angulo carefully wore down Rivera while protecting his eye, and was punching away at a defenseless Rivera when the fight was stopped with 12 seconds remaining in the fifth round by a Florida boxing Commission member who mercifully leaped onto the apron to stop the fight. It was only the second time Rivera had lost by knockout in 45 bouts.

In a surprisingly boring middle fight on the card which had the crowd at Bank Atlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida booing throughout, normally exciting boxers Sergio Martinez and former welterweight champion Kermit Cintron fought to a questionable majority draw. Martinez, who seemed wary of Cintron’s right hand power, used his superior footwork, hand speed and boxing skills to stick and run and seemingly pile up rounds. Martinez knocked Cintron down in the final seconds of the 7th round, and it appeared referee Frank Santore waived off the fight as Cintron was slow rising. But Cintron beat the count and the fight was allowed to continue. Although it seemed Martinez was the far more the busier and effective fighter, the judges ruled it a draw, 116-110 for Martinez, and 113-113 twice.