By Robert Coster
On Saturday night in Santa Fe, Argentina, Gabriel Campillo became the 11th Spaniard to win a world title by outpointing the heavily-favored WBA light heavyweight champion Hugo Garay. On paper, the little known Madrid-born Campillo despite good boxing skills did not look like a high risk opponent being a 31-year-old with a 15-2, 6 KO record and having never fought outside of Europe. But maybe Team Garay should have tought twice before accepting Campillo as an opponent, as Campillo is managed by Tundra vs Barcelo Promotions, the Spanish boxing powerhouse that has a long tradition of handling boxers who beat reigning champions on their own turf. The record books testify to Tundra’s improbable – and impressive – history of upsets.
Place: Tokyo, Japan
Date: May18, 1976
Jose Manuel Duran KO 14 Koichi Wajima for the WBA jr middleweight title — Wajima has been world champion for five years. Jose Manuel Duran, the challenger, is a 32-year-old Spanish veteran nearing the end of his career. Coming out for the 14th round, Wajima was leading on all three cards.
Place: Paris, France
Date: May 16, 1998
Anatoly Alexandrov W12 Julien Lorcy for the WBO Jr lightweight title. Frenchman Lorcy is unbeaten and fighting at home. He is the heavy favorite.
Place: Kolding, Denmark
Date: January 14, 2000
Boris Sinitsin KO 3 Dennis Holbaek for the European lightweight title. Holbaek is unbeaten in 37 fights and favored to win over the battle-scarred Sinitsin.
Place: Reims, France
Date:June 14, 2006
Mgr Mekrtchyan KO 12 Jackson Chanet for the European super-middleweight title. Unbeaten local idol Chanet is one fight away from a world title challenge. Coming out for the last round, he is leading on the judges scorecards over the underdog Armenian boxer.
And, then there’s the upset that almost happened. On March 23, 2006 in Atlantic City, IBF super-featherweight Champion Arturo Gatti is a prohibitive favorite against unknown Spain-based Dominican Wilson Rodriguez. Gatti is knocked down and almost kayoed in the second round. For four rounds Rodriguez dominates and Arturo has one eye totally shut. At the end of the 4th, the doctor wants to stop the fight. Gatti’s corner pleads for an extra round and the Canadian performs the miracle of turning the fight around and stopping his challenger.
Remembers Enrique Soria Jr, executive Director of Tundra: “The fight was so close to being stopped. It would have been a huge upset. I still have regrets and Wilson Rodriguez was never the same after that fight. The incredible outcome just destroyed him.”