By Fiona Manning
In one of the most bizarre fight endings ever seen on Californian soil, Nate Campbell, who was rapidly on his way to a KO victory over Robbie “The Bomber” Peden in a hard-fought battle, suddenly stopped fighting.
This one was for all the marbles. At stake, a highly-coveted shot at IBF 130 pound champion Carlos “Famoso” Hernandez.
In the fifth round, Campbell, who had just unleashed a wicked body shot and uppercut on Peden, had the Aussie superstar bent over double.
In a ridiculous moment he will spend forever regretting, Campbell suddenly dropped his hands and wordlessly invited Peden to take a shot.
Peden did, knocking out Campbell with a corking left hook at 2.27 of the round.
It was such a bizarre, yet spectacular finish that the crowd at Pechanga Entertainment Center and Casino in Temecula, CA was on its collective feet, screaming.
This fight capped off a great day of boxing for Goossen Tutor Promotions (tape delayed for Fox Sports Net).
After being counted out, Campbell, who’d gone spiraling to the canvas heavily, was on his feet screaming too.
He had however, nobody but himself to blame. Especially since he had Peden in trouble when he decided to showboat.
“He was protesting,” said Peden’s ever-classy trainer, Roger Bloodworth. “But to be honest, I think he was still buzzed.”
After it was all over and Campbell’s corner had conceded defeat (the sick look on trainer John David Jackson’s face said it all), Peden, who retains his USBA title and now potentially faces Hernandez, acknowledged that Campbell is a much better boxer and much harder puncher than people think.
“He got me with a couple of shots that really hurt,” he said ringside after the fight. “I thought, I couldn’t take another body shot like that and then he just dropped his hands, stuck his chin out and I went for it.”
Campbell meanwhile, went berserk in the ring, screaming and crying, blaming everybody.
Days after the fight, he was taking responsibility for his own cockiness. It’s something he will have to live with for the rest of his life.
Peden would like to fight Hernandez but is astute enough not to start counting chickens since the talk is of a Hernandez vs Erik Morales fight at the Home Depot outdoor arena this summer.
Bloodworth tried to console Campbell by saying “You can come back from this. It’s only one fight. It’s not your whole career.”
At the start of the fight, Peden won the first round by everybody’s estimation and the second. Then in the third, he quit slipping and stopped throwing punches at the rate he had been throwing; he had a horrible fourth, an even worse fifth until Campbell tempted fate.
Peden improves to 23-2, 13 KOs. Campbell dips to 24-2-1, 21 KOs.
The weirdest fight of the day had to go to California’s hot feather prospect, the terrific little southpaw Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, whose seemingly fair knockout of Julian Rodriguez in the first, was ruled a technical draw under state rules.
This was such a strange fight; it was over so quickly (1.17 of the first to be exact) but basically, Rodriguez who’d tasted a couple of Guerrero’s hard punches, didn’t like them at all. He then launched a right of his own.
Guerrero slipped under that right hand (in a move trainer Joe Goossen says they worked on in the dressing room) and hit Rodriguez with two extremely hard rights. One seemed to get him right on the temple, but ref Lou Filippo felt it was the back of the head.
He immediately stopped the action, sending Guerrero to his corner.
With trainer Goossen ready to leap into the ring, Guerrero seemed bewildered, but kept moving in the corner, as Filippo had the excellent Dr. James Jen Kin examine Rodriguez. (Dr. Jen Kin subbed for the inexplicably absent Dr. Paul Wallace).
As the ring slowly started filling with members of the CSAC and members of each fighter’s team, it was all very confusing.
The crowd was kept waiting so long that many up the back started booing Rodriguez. To be fair, Rodriguez appeared to be hamming it up worse than Arnold the Pig on Greenacres, but it soon became evident he was really hurt.
Amy Hayes told the crowd “Things aren’t always what they seem. I know you think this fight finished too quickly and that maybe he doesn’t want to fight but we want to make sure Julian Rodriguez is transported safely to hospital.”
He was. And then the booing stopped. Guerrero whose shorts bore the slogan: Acts 2:38, moves to 11-0-1, 4 KOs and Rodriguez (who probably will cry if they order a rematch) 70 13-9-2, 7 KOs.
In the co-main event, former WBC middleweight champ Keith Holmes beat WBO #3 154 pound contender Kuvanych Toygonbayev to a surprising 10 round majority decision.
It actually looked like Holmes - who wouldn’t commit to finishing Toygonbayev despite coming close many times won almost every round. The judges had it close, so close one had it even.
It didn’t help Toygonbayev (who goes by Kuna in the US) when ref David Denkin rather unfairly took two points for hitting and holding in the eighth.
With scores of 94-94 (from ref Lou Filippo), 95-93, 95-93 for Holmes, these judges had it closer than it appeared. When ringside announcer (the vastly improved Amy Hayes) said the words “Majority Decision” the crowd seemed stunned.
Holmes goes up to 38-3, 24 and Toygonbayev, who ought to buy Filippo lunch, moves down to 23-2, 15 KOs.
First fight up was a heavyweight clash between Malcom Tann and “Wild, Wild” Wesley Martin. Martin started hard and fast but got caught quickly with a snapping left to the top of his head and went down lights out. Official time: 2.50 of the first.
Tan increases his tally to 10-1, 5 KOs. Martin slips to 15-44-8, 8 KOs.
This was another packed-to-the rafters, fun, fan-filled show for the Pechanga nations tribe.
Funniest sight of the fights: the ever-gorgeous Amy Hayes grimacing each time she carefully climbed into the ring, negotiating those rickety steps in her lovely but unforgivingly tight, long black gown.