By Chris Cella
This past Friday, former unified lightweight champion Nate Campbell was over matched by undefeated Canadian welterweight Kevin Bizier for eight rounds before his corner decided they had seen enough.
Throughout the fight Bizier was able to pick apart the former champion, beating him to the punch at will, and ultimately breaking him down round after round.
Following the fight Campbell acknowledged his ailing back was a problem during the fight, and that he had planned to drop down to 140 in his next outing, but one has to ask…is it time to hang up the gloves and walk away from the sport?
Since turning pro in 2000, Campbell has had a decorated career inside the squared circle, beginning his reign in the lightweight division in 2008 when he won a split decision victory over Juan Diaz to secure himself as the unified champion. He defended his title once over Ali Funeka before his controversial “no contest” bout with Timothy Bradley, and in the eight following fights has gone a mere 3-5.
Campbell (36-10-1, 26 KO) has shown that he is the complete fighter; power in both hands; dictating the pace of the fight and make his opponent conform to his style, and his ability to finish strong to outlast late in the fight.
But despite winning his last two fights prior to stepping in the ring against Kevin Bizier, age seemed to be catching up with the former champion. And as the years increase, the speed decreases, and with a fighter with the caliber of talent of Campbell—in his prime—when the speed is gone all he has to fall back on is his skill and experience.
Friday night the skill was there; Friday night the experience was there. But the 40-year-old Campbell didn’t have the speed to get off first against Bizier, or use his feet to control the ring and create the angles which led him to be victorious earlier in his career.
The hardest decision a fighter will probably ever have to make is when to call it quits, when to walk away from the one thing he knows best, and has found so much success in.
But we have seen time and time again where fighters try to defy Father Time, and fight well beyond their years, which can tarnish their legacy a bit, as they are remembered more for their less than impressive performance at the end of their career than their accomplishments during their pinnacle.
Nate Campbell has nothing left to prove. A move to the light welterweight division is not the answer to his problems. He showed Friday night that he is unable to compete with younger, quality opponents, and not to take anything away from Kevin Bizier, but if he was able to make the former unified lightweight champion of the world look more like a glorified sparring partner rather than a contender, any decent light welterweight prospect will do the same.
Time will tell what the next phase of Nate Campbell’s boxing career—and life—will present, but he should think long and hard about what is best for him inside and out of the ropes, and go with it. He’s been on top, and he go out with his head high.