By Scott Foster
Photos: Scott Foster
Nate Campbell (37-11, 26 KOs) made a successful return to the ring Saturday night, dispatching an over-matched Gilbert Venegas (12-13, 8 KOs) via unanimous 8-round decision. With the win, the ex-lightweight champion Campbell earned the NBA 154lb title. Campbell controlled the pace of the bout throughout, with steady, thumping bodywork and a long, stiff jab. Venegas attempted a mid-round rally, forcing Campbell to increase his tempo, landing heavy, looping right hands over the top. Both fighters enjoyed a solid final frame, with Venegas landing a flush left hook early that seemed to incense Campbell, who finished the final 2 minutes in complete command.
“I felt a little rusty after the long layoff,” Campbell admitted, “and going up to 154 was a hard thing for me. I felt like I was proficient on my basics, but I’m going back down to 140lbs where I’m supposed to be.”
The win rights the ship for Campbell, a loser of his past 2 bouts, and accomplishes more than simply adding another W to his professional ledger.
“I wanted to come home and finish my career in Florida,” Campbell explained, “and I still want to stage a Roy Jones/Nate Campbell card on the Emerald Coast. The people on this coast want to see that card. But I don’t plan on doing this for the rest of my life. I’m not going to die fighting – that’s just not my thing.”
At age 42, Campbell’s “thing” may hinge on a fellow promoter plucking his name out of a burgeoning welterweight hat, so an experienced Campbell continues to, “prepare mentally, physically and emotionally” for any short notice bouts. When pressed to cite a possible opponent, Campbell’s preferred list resembles a gunslingers diatribe, looking to settle old scores both in and out of the ring.
“I’m looking for one more fight,” Campbell stated, “to let the sport know I’m still here. When I held the lightweight title, Marquez didn’t want to fight me, Casamayor didn’t want to fight me, Diaz didn’t want to re-match me, and Guzman refused to fight me. I understand who I am, what I am and where I am. I’m not trying to re-invent the wheel, I’m just gonna be Nate Campbell — all day every day — until the bus breaks down.”
While Campbell continues to train an eye toward a final shot inside the ring, most acknowledge it is the love for his craft — borne of hard work and perseverance — which drives Campbell to remain in the sport. And by forming Galaxxy Fire Promotions, Campbell thinks he may have located a nitch to fill the void so often created by retirement.
“I am really thankful for my team, and Galaxxy Fire Promotions is ready to do some big things in Boxing. Between me, Moses Droz, his wife Brenda Droz, my fiancée Rosslyn Thompson and Jadene King, we are fixing to do some really big things in the sport.”
Campbell remains boxing’s modern day renaissance man: a poet, a preacher, a promoter and a pugilist. But of all the job titles that start with the letter P, the one that makes Campbell smile the widest is his title as a parent. One gets the sense, after hearing Campbell speak, that his ability to foster young fighters will keep all those who choose Galaxxy Fire Promotions in good stead.
“In my heart,” Campbell confided, “promoting is what I want to do, because I love to help younger fighters. I am boxing. I am what boxing was meant to be. I’m the fighter who came into the game and learned the sport – I’m a cut man, a corner man, I’m a trainer – I’m whatever you need me to be. I’m part of the last bastion of old-school fighters.”
Campbell relishes the uniqueness & individuality associated with his style, and hopes to draw similar veins in young fighters from his stable, fleshing out potential skills and future marketability.
“I took a whole bunch of nothing, and made it into something. I took a whole lot of journeymen stuff, mixed in a little Ray Robinson up-jab and some Ali off the ropes. So I teach guys to be you — if you can steal something from me, take it and make it work. I’m gonna show you how not get hit with it. And sometimes, it won’t work for your body style, but we can figure out something that does. I want my fighters to have their own signature; every fighter needs his own signature. I’ve been in hard fights – there were no easy fights. I think God has shown me the way to build a fighter, and if they listen, they’ll learn – and if they learn, they’ll earn!”