by Fox Doucette
The Northeast got two major snow jobs on Friday night. Winter Storm Nemo blanketed your columnist’s hometown with enough snow to re-create one of Calvin’s snowman expressionist art projects, and Nate Campbell (36-10-1, 26 KOs) tried to snow us into thinking he had a snowball’s chance in hell against Kevin Bizier (20-0, 14 KOs), who beat the crap out of him en route to an eight-round TKO victory. In the co-feature, Baha Laham (11-0-1, 4 KOs) cut Tyler Asselstine (12-1, 7 KOs) down to size as Asselstine’s strategy of “why fight when we can just cuddle?” didn’t get him very far.
In the preview, your columnist wrote that “this main event smacks of Andrzej Fonfara-Glen Johnson from last year or the two embarrassments we saw last week on the Worldwide Leader from Jose Luis Castillo and Cory Spinks. The smart money’s on the young prospect getting the job done in the friendly confines against the old man.” Can we just settle on “nailed it” and move on? No? Very well.
Simply, Bizier was bigger, stronger, faster, and not a pensioner with a bad back. Campbell, in the post-fight interview, ran his yap about how Bizier was a middleweight and Campbell rehydrated to 149 after weighing in at 146. He also whinged about how he’d reinjured his back in the second round and “it hurt to throw the jab.” Fun fact, Smacky. If you are injured and can’t punch, and if your opponent can throw staccato combinations with the left hand that are freakin’ things of beauty (Bizier throws four left hooks in less time than it takes most fighters to throw one and reset for another), it is not a question of if your corner will throw in the towel, but how long before they bow to the inevitable and sensibly keep you from turning into Duk Koo Kim.
This was not a fight. It was a public execution. Kevin Bizier beat the shit out of Nate Campbell, full stop. At the time of the stoppage, Teddy Atlas, your columnist, the Facebook audience, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and your cat all had the fight 80-72, unless your cat had Campbell’s people give him a fish before the fight. The only real problem for Bizier is how he required an extra six rounds to beat a guy who’d essentially thrown his back out. This really doesn’t speak well of him, and suggests that he has more in common with David Lemieux than with Floyd Mayweather in terms of his ceiling.
Meanwhile, in the co-feature, Tyler Asselstine looked like a guy who had no idea how to fight tall. Baha Laham wouldn’t know a jab if it hit him in the face, and he certainly doesn’t know how to throw one. He followed the 1985 Mike Tyson school of walking straight in and digging with the hook. Asselstine, if he had any idea how to box on the outside, would have eaten Laham’s lunch, but all the Torontonian knew how to do was tie up and hug like he was less Laham’s opponent in a boxing match and more Laham’s girlfriend.
Laham, for his part, did a surprisingly good job of creating space to punch; he probably should have been tied up a lot more than he was. He did eat a lot of shots coming in, and this was not as one-sided as the previous paragraph implies. Laham has plenty of flaws of his own, including a Provodnikov-esque aversion to not getting hit. He stood square in front of Asselstine far more often than is healthy, and when he got too far off his stance, Asselstine was able to find him. Still, Laham landed clean, effective body punches and clearly had his opponent out of his comfort zone as a fighter.
When the judges’ cards came down, the scores were 95-95, 96-94, 96-95 (with one round even). Baha Laham had a majority decision and a mild upset. Your columnist had this 96-94 for Laham; Teddy Atlas had it 97-94 for Asselstine, and the audience watching at home had it six rounds to four for Asselstine. Teddy Atlas suggested that the home audience all get jobs as boxing judges; even though your columnist disagreed with Teddy’s scorecard, the sentiment about crowdsourcing a decision was spot-on. 6-4 for Asselstine on rounds was a very much defensible scorecard, and so too was Teddy’s score. It is testament to just what an even, well-contested battle the co-feature was.
Next week, Delvin Rodriguez gets another shot on ESPN2 to ply his trade, a name FNF fans should well know as one of the participants in 2011’s Fight of the Year, a majority draw against Pawel Wolak. Rodriguez gets George Tadooahnippah, who is not on Wolak’s level; Rodriguez should, on paper, eat his lunch. The Boxing Tribune will have full coverage of the show throughout the week. Stay tuned—we’re the worldwide leader in covering the Worldwide Leader.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for the Boxing Tribune. His weekly column, The Southpaw, appears on Thursdays. Fan mail, hate mail, and your pick for his best Tribune work can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.