by Johnny Walker
It was a very good night for Quebecois fighters tonight on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, as two Quebec natives won their bouts–one with some difficulty, the other with ease–in a card broadcast from the Bell Centre in a snowy Montreal, Quebec.
In the opening co-feature, a battle more usually fought on hockey rinks took place between Toronto and Montreal, as Tyler Asseltine of the former city took on hometowner Baha Laham in a featherweight contest.
Asseltine, the bigger fighter and a southpaw to boot, dominated the early going as he continually strafed Laham–described by FNF announcer Teddy Atlas as looking like a “heavy bag” from the gym–with some solid shots to the body and head.
This wasn’t enough, however, to dissuade Laham, who continually came forward and applied pressure, eventually scoring with some well-placed body shots, and that strategy began to pay dividends by round four, when the flow of the fight started shifting. Asseltine was the one looking worse for the wear as the fight entered into its latter stages, his early momentum now gone.
The fight got sloppy and degenerated into a contest of flailing arms and unsteady legs in the last two rounds, with neither fighter able to land much in the way of clean punches. Asseltine seemed to have righted the ship enough to perhaps eke out a win, but then, this was a fight taking place in Montreal, not Toronto.
As such, the scores of 95-95, 96-94 and 96-95 gave Laham (11-0, 4 KOs) a perhaps slightly fortunate majority decision. The disappointed Asseltine was handed his first loss, dropping to 12-1 (7 KOs).
There was no suspense whatsoever in the next fight, a brutal welterweight mismatch between American veteran Nate Campbell, 40, and Quebec City’s Kevin Bizier, 28.
Pretty much from the opening bell onwards, Campbell played the role of a game punching bag for Bizier, who pounded him with vicious shots that sounded like mini explosions. The loud and thudding shots hurt just listening to them at home, so one can only imagine how Nate Campbell felt on the receiving end of them.
Bizier used his impressive left hook, a shot which he often turns into an uppercut at the last moment, to batter Campbell in a workmanlike fashion as the rounds progressed. In round four, Bizier stunned Campbell with a hard left hook to the head, and then in round five he trapped the American in the corner of the ring and pounded him relentlessly with hard shots. A counter right hand landed by Campbell had no effect whatsoever on the French-Canadian.
Campbell continued to take punishment and lose every round as the fight progressed. A hard left hand from Bizier hurt him again in round six, and Campbell seemed to be bleeding from the mouth in round seven as he again took a brutal beating along the ropes. While the FNF announcers were perhaps too fond of Campbell to suggest it, to this writer the fight now appeared to be a pointless beating of a man soon to see his 41st birthday.
Campbell took more hard shots in round eight, but did land a good right to Bizier’s body. And then, thankfully, the veteran decided to call it a day.
Nate Campbell (36-10-1, 26 KOs) did not come out for round nine, citing a back injury, and Kevin Bizier (20-0, 14 KOs) was handed a TKO victory. In an interview after the fight, Campbell, his face swollen and bruised, assured family members he was OK and said he would be back to fight another day.
Hopefully his family can help him rethink that decision.