“I am the wave of the future which is the past”–Nate Campbell
I first became aware of Nate “The Galaxxy Warrior” Campbell way back in January of 2003 when he fought on the Vernon Forrest/Ricardo Mayorga undercard. His opponent was the much-lauded former WBA Super Featherweight champion and future WBC Lightweight Champion Joel Casamayor. My initial impression was that despite his glossy and undefeated 23-0 record he had been brought-in as an opponent, but over the course of that contest, he demonstrated a seasoning and sharpness that went beyond the mere numbers on his ledger at the time. He came out of that bout on the short end of a very questionable split decision, but in hindsight, “The Galaxxy Warrior” was really furthering his ongoing education in The School of Pugilistic Hard Knocks, and going through a period of refinement.
Former World Heavyweight Champion, Lennox Lewis, once stated that winning and losing were on the very same page. But the reality is that all too often a loss or a series of losses takes away from the public’s perception of a fighter. Today’s reality is that the power brokers of boxing seem to really only care about undefeated records, forgetting that many of the greats through our sport’s long and illustrious history endured setback and disappointment. From Henry Armstrong through to Marvelous Marvin Hagler and beyond, great prize fighters have had to overcome adversity and career setback. Such is all a part of the essence of their greatness.
Like the aforementioned greats of old, and fueled by unwavering self belief, “The Galaxxy Warrior” understood the value of focus, perseverance and the old school method of learning along the way. Today, as the IBF/WBA/WBO Lightweight Champion, he is the product of those rare fistic virtues and for this writer it was a great honor to represent RSR and to discuss with him his career, his views on the sport and life in general.
MP: You had what has to be regarded as an accomplished amateur boxing career. How did you first become interested in boxing and were there any early influences that drew you to the sport?
I had 36 fights, 30 wins. I did it all in three years. I was 25 when I started. What drew me was, as a young kid I boxed but I never competed. I always wanted to box but I was playing basketball all of the time. I needed some way to pass the time while going through a bad marriage. I had been looking for a gym and I found one. It pushed me back to something I had been doing all of my life off and on. I made the Olympic Trials. I just didn’t go. I went pro instead.
MP: Turning professional in 2000, you tore through twenty-one opponents before facing Daniel Alicea for the NABA/NABF Super Featherweight Title, a fighter that had once dropped a prime Naseem Hamed in a losing bid for the WBO Featherweight crown. You knocked him out in three rounds, a win that positioned you for the big time. What are your recollections of this period and the aftermath of the win?
Man, when I beat Daniel Alicea by knockout, it was probably one of the best knockout punches, the stances you’ll see; with me standing as he‘s crumbling down to the canvas, with my right hand raised, as I pull it back. It was a terrific automatic recoil with the shot being so powerful. Alicea hit hard and he threw a lot of punches. One thing I remember about Danny, I saw him when I did an ESPN show up in New York, with Joe Tessitore some time ago. When I saw him, he’s was always just such a good person. So when he went down, I did my job but I wanted him to be OK.
MP: It’s all about being professional
You know what? I want to explain something to you. Being professional would mean me knocking him out and not giving a damn. That’s professional. Believe it or not, people fail to realize something. “Professional” is not running over and helping some guy off of the ground. This is a blood sport. And for those that have forgotten that this is a blood sport, they need to look at what we do for a living; we hurt each other. Professionalism is not going over to see if a guy is OK. That’s just something decent and good inside of us.
MP: You came out on the short end of what many feel was an unjust unanimous decision loss to Joel Casamayor in January of 2003. In his very next bout he stopped the late Diego Corrales in an IBF Title Eliminator. Considering the heights Casamayor later reached in his career, your bout with him and the ensuing controversy takes on a whole new light.
He was easy! I thought to myself, damn there’s got to be more to this guy than this. I’m waiting to see this superstar, and I’m thinking to myself, basically I’m on his level. I knew right then, that somebody had lied, and maybe I was the one they lied to. You know what? It’s neither here no there ‘cause at the end of the day, the record says what the record says.
MP: Two of your losses are to Robbie Peden, one of which was for the vacant IBF Super Featherweight Title. What happened in those bouts and do you feel that you have unfinished business with him?
Know what? I could not fight at 130 by that point. I could never make the weight after that. The first fight, I made a bonehead choice. I could have beaten him, but I made a boneheaded play. It was something I did and something I have to pay for the rest of my life. But its something I learned from, more than paying for it, I learned something. So I don’t think in the first fight I came up with the short end of the stick. The second fight I got jobbed in every way possible. So, is there unfinished business? No. I could beat him any day of the weak at lightweight. I believe that deep inside that he knows I’m a different animal at a higher weight.
I like Robbie. People don’t understand that. Me and Robbie get along good. I want Robbie to do the very best he can do with his non-profit organization in Australia. Help as many kids as he can. If he ever needs me to come over and do appearances, I’d do that. Whatever happened between us is history. I can’t change it. So why would I be upset over something I can’t change?
MP: From April 2005 through to July 2007 you went 6-2, 4 KO’s. The two losses were highly questionable split decision losses, one to the underrated Francisco Lorenzo and the other to Isaac Hlatshwayo. Many felt that those decisions should have gone your way. Throughout the setbacks, did you ever consider quitting the sport or did they just further galvanize your resolve to succeed?
You know what? There was something that happened to me in the Franciso Lorenzo fight. I was so dry from trying to make 131, 132 pounds. I should have moved up and never came down. I was so messed-up I could barely walk because I almost fainted on the way to the ring that night. Nobody knew that. But I fought the fight and didn’t pull out like a lot of these young guys do; most of them today, they just wuss out. I made the weight and took the loss like a man. I did it to myself so why should I punish that man by not giving him the chance? He did everything he was supposed to do the way he was supposed to do it and he came out on top. So I take that loss on the chin. He could never beat me at 135.
In the Isaac Hlatshwayo fight, the guy working my corner back then told me to box. When I came back to the corner, I said why would I box him when I was winning on the inside? He said “Nate, stay outside and just box. Just do this for me.” I said OK. He was my corner man, I listened to him, and I lost. A fight I would have won by knockout, but I never have made it my business to point fingers at him but it was up to me to follow his direction. I did it. But you’ll notice that after that fight, no one has come close to beating me.
Manny Pacquiao don’t want to see me. Marco Antonio Barrera called out my name, but that’s because he has to. Let me tell you something. I am the epitome of what a fighter should be. I am what most of these guys wish they could be. If you could build a fighter who had been through something and came out on top, they would be building me. I’m not bragging about that. Check my accolades, check what I’ve done. Look at what I have accomplished. No man in the history of boxing has fallen as far as I fell out of the graces of everyone that was anyone in boxing, and came back to do what I did, period. And to do it at 36 years of age is astounding. That’s a testament to me being something more than just a fighter. I don’t give up.
MP: In March 2008, you posted the biggest win of your career to date, out boxing and out working the previously undefeated Juan Diaz to win the IBF/WBA/WBO Lightweight Titles. Known for his speed and volume punching, Diaz was coming off of three successively big wins and riding a wave of confidence. In the weeks leading up to the match, you were very vocal about what you were going to do with Diaz. What are your recollections going into this bout?
He couldn’t beat me. I told the world he couldn’t beat me. I said it unequivocally, bet what you want bet. He can’t beat me because I understand something about the game of boxing. Losses and wins are not the testament of a man unless he’s not learning. What I learned in my five losses you can’t teach these guys in thirty-three, thirty-five, thirty-eight-whatever wins. You can’t teach them in that many wins, because what you learn in losses lasts a whole career. I fought the very best guys of my era. I’ve been in the ring with Sharmba Mitchell, Shane Mosely – I’m respected by my peers because I can do some things that are phenomenal. I can change speed, change styles, change pace, change everything right in the midst of fighting. Not any other fighter in the game of boxing can do that today.
MP: I remember thinking the age difference might be a factor in your fight with Diaz, and yet you were the one with more energy in the later rounds
You know what? I’ve always been this way. I’ve always been a dynamo. I’ve always been go, go, go, go. If I’d have grown up in today’s school system, they’d have put me on Ritalin and messed me all up, but the problem is, they don’t want this to be said, so I’ll say it. Stop putting these kids on Ritalin. Help these kids find something that they love to do and they won’t as hyper all of the time cause they’d spend more time thinking about what they love to do. It was basketball, and boxing, and football and baseball, tennis and soccer for me; stop putting these kids on Ritalin and messing them all up. That’s what they’re doing to these kids, dumming them all out and making them into little zombies and drug addicts. We’re losing the greatest athletes of our era today with that drug.
I’m 36 years-old but I still get around like a 20-something year-old man and I get around like a 20-something year-old man. Why? It’s just what God wanted me to be. I believe that God has given man youth but he has also given us experience and wisdom to help our youth sustain. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I’ve always taken care of this one body, it’s the only one I’ve ever had. Dude, I am what I am. I go to the gym every day. I refuse to do anything different. Now you got these guys throwing the steroid issue around. Steroids don’t give you stamina, they don’t make you take a punch any better. Steroids don’t make you better as a fighter, help you judge distance. They don’t do any of that. Not from what I know.
MP: Having faced both Joel Casamayor and Juan Diaz, how would you compare them as foes? What were their strengths and weaknesses?
Joel was the dirtiest fighter I ever fought. He taught me more stuff about how to get away with dirty stuff than anybody in my career. He took it to the extreme, and they let him do it. Everything that he did was considered legal because they didn’t call it.
Diaz was a good little fighter. He’s going be something special one day as long as he stays away from guys like me.
MP: Your first title defense was set for last September against Joan Guzman, the undefeated former WBO Super Bantamweight and Super Featherweight Champion. Guzman failed to make weight at the official weigh-in, only to later pull out of the bout altogether. Give our readers your account of what happened and the impact this cancellation had on you and your team.
He punked out! He cost me and everybody around me money. He cost everybody involved money. He punked out! You understand what I’m saying? I said, dude you only have to drop one pound. I got it from here. You didn’t make weight, don’t worry about it. Show up to fight, but he still pulled out! The doctor said there was nothing wrong with him; I know this from his conditioning guy. He didn’t want to fight and he never wanted to fight. Let me explain something to you. Guys know real fighters when they see them. The problem is so much what is going on in America, in the boxing world today, is set up by what the people outside of the ring who work for the networks tell you to believe. They tell you believe. They tell you believe that Nate Campbell can’t sell and people don’t watch Nate Campbell, they are telling you a lie. Let me tell you something. I’m one of the best draws among non-Latin fighters. Latin people will come to see me fight before they go to see most of the other guys fight because they love what I do. You can’t teach what I do to these young guys because they don’t have the balls to stand there and learn it.
MP: What was your game plan for dealing with such a talented and elusive foe? Did you see weakness in his style?
Guzman’s whole style is a weakness. Cut him off and beat him up. I don’t rough guys up, I beat them up. They call it boxing but what is it really? Its professional prize fighting is what it is. That’s what I am.
I’m a mobile guy. I can get around the ring better than most guys in the world. I have great hand speed, tremendous defense, awesome counter-punching ability. I can lead, I can counter and I can punch. When I fought Kid Diamond, I walked him around the ring and beat him up. Then I danced around on him to set him up for the knockout.
MP: What are your thoughts on Juan Manuel Marquez’ recent 11th round stoppage of Joel Casamayor and how do you see Marquez doing with Juan Diaz later in February?
I didn’t see the fight. From what I heard he fought a good fight. He fought a washed-up guy and took eleven rounds to knock him out. I hope he does well against Diaz because I’ll get the fight with him without any drama. So I’m pulling for him to win. I’ll be at the fight sitting ringside so I can call whoever wins, call him out like a man. Let’s do this and stop playing games.
MP: Looking at the current boxing landscape, rate your contemporaries in Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao and where do you feel you fit in.
I’m above the rest, there’s no one better than me at lightweight. I’m the best lightweight in the world. They can give these names, linear this, linear that. If you think any of those guys can beat me, you are a fool!
When you stop and think about guys like Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, their names look and sound good, but I am the wave of the future. I’m the all around fighter that’s been through something. I am the wave of the future which is the past! Let me explain it. I am the wave of the future because now fighters with losses on their ledger like me, Antonio Margarito and the other guy, Joshua Clottey, those guys are the ones that make that difference in a division. It’s not these guys with these zeros on their record. In the past all of the great fighters had losses but they would still be loved by the fans.
MP: What did you think of the proposed Manny Pacquiao/Ricky Hatton light welterweight match-up and who do you feel will prevail in that bout?
You no what? I really don’t know who will win that fight. I really don’t feel much about it because it doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’m just worrying about
me because they are just fighting around me. If I ever got a shot at either one of them I’d beat either one of them. That’s the way I feel.
MP: Would you consider a move up to light welterweight to face Ricky Hatton or Manny Pacquiao if the opportunity presented itself?
Oh yeah, without a doubt – after I handle my business at lightweight.
MP: You are scheduled to defend your titles against the once beaten Ali Funeka of South Africa on February 14th. What are your thoughts going into this contest?
I’m going do what I do best and he better bring his game ‘cause mine is already brought! See, everybody though because he beat Zahir Raheem and they make that out to be something great. Who did Zahir Raheem ever beat? Who at lightweight did he ever beat? He beat Erik Morales who was washed-up. He beat nobody at lightweight. Now he’s the guy I have to fight. I’m not running from him and I’m not afraid of him. He’s in my way and I don’t go around nothing – I go through it!
MP: In closing, is there anything that you would like to say to your fans around the world?
I want to say this to my fans. To those people who believe in me all these years and never gave up hope in me, thank you. I am eternally honored. For the rest of my life, I will always be remembered as a champion because you all believed in me. There were a lot of people that gave up on me, but I can remember getting letters and messages from fans even after I had losses. That would bring so much joy to me. I would always send them a glove or a picture in response to their support. I am so happy. So happy and so blessed to be where I am and I thank the fans for their support.
Nickname: “The Galaxxy Warrior”
Professional Record: 32-5-1, 25 KO’s
Date Opponent W-L-D Location Result
2000-02-05 Scoey Fields 5-14-0 Tallahassee, USA W TKO 1
2000-05-26 Alex Brenes 1-1-1 Miami Beach, USA W TKO 2
2000-06-23 John Trigg 4-6-4 Biloxi, USA W TKO 4
2000-10-28 Sergio Jose Olivas 7-0-0 Miami, USA W TKO 6
2000-12-03 Ivan Dawson 5-0-1 Miami, USA W TKO 2
2001-01-18 John Frazier 3-6-1 Biloxi, USA W KO 3
2001-02-22 Antonio Young 3-4-2 Tampa, USA W TKO 2
2001-04-21 Jaime Torres 8-6-0 Homestead, USA W TKO 3
2001-05-05 Antonio Smith 7-23-2 Philadelphia, USA W KO 1
2001-05-11 Angel Rios 8-1-0 Savannah, USA W UD 6
2001-06-23 Keith Major 1-9-0 Tampa, USA W KO 2
2001-07-28 Antonio Smith 7-24-2 Savannah, USA W TKO 2
2001-08-11 Steve Trumble 11-13-0 Melbourne, USA W TKO 3
2001-08-31 Victorio Abadia 18-1-1 Baltimore, USA W TKO 8
2001-09-29 Elias Juarez 10-19-4 Savannah, USA W TKO 4
2001-11-10 Michael Jamison 10-4-0 Savannah, USA W TKO 1
2002-02-10 James Baker 11-1-3 Elgin, USA W TKO 9
2002-02-23 Joseph Figueroa 9-47-5 Savannah, USA W UD 8
2002-03-22 Alric Johnson 20-11-0 Savannah, USA W TKO 4
NABA Super Featherweight Title
2002-04-27 Jaime Torres 8-8-0 Uncasville, USA W TKO 5
2002-06-22 Carlos Navarro 23-2-1 Biloxi, USA W TKO 5
2002-09-14 Daniel Alicea 27-4-2 Las Vegas, USA W KO 3
NABA Super Featherweight Title
NABF Super Featherweight Title
2002-11-23 Renor Rojas Claure 23-14-2 Atlantic City, USA W KO 5
2003-01-25 Joel Casamayor 28-1-0 Temecula, USA L UD 10
2003-05-17 Edelmiro Martinez 20-2-0 Atlantic City, USA D PTS 10
2004-01-09 Daniel Attah 21-2-1 Uncasville, USA W UD 12
2004-03-14 Robbie Peden 22-2-0 Temecula, USA L KO 5
USBA Super Featherweight Title
2004-07-30 Edelmiro Martinez 21-2-1 Uncasville, USA W DQ 4
2005-02-23 Robbie Peden 24-2-0 Melbourne Park, Australia L TKO 8
Vacant IBF Super Featherweight Title
2005-04-29 Johnny Walker 18-13-0 Tampa, USA W TKO 2
2005-06-14 Francisco Lorenzo 21-3-0 Saint Petersburg, USA L SD 10
2005-10-01 Almazbek Raiymkulov 20-0-1 Tampa, USA W TKO 10
2006-01-27 Francisco Javier Olvera 15-2-0 Atlantic City, USA W RTD 6
2006-04-07 Isaac Hlatshwayo 23-0-0 Tampa, USA L SD 12
IBO Lightweight Title
2006-10-07 Matt Zegan 37-1-0 Rosemont, USA W UD 12
2007-03-02 Ricky Quiles 39-7-3 Tampa, USA W UD 12
2007-07-06 Wilson Alcorro 25-7-3 Tampa, USA W TKO 6
2008-03-08 Juan Diaz 33-0-0 Cancun, Mexico W SD 12
IBF Lightweight Title
WBA Lightweight Title
WBO Lightweight Title