Saturday, 19 January 2013 16:06

NBC Fight Night Preview: Campillo vs Kovalev

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Gabriel Campillo vs Sergey Kovalev will take place tonight, January 19, 2013.

NBC Fight Night Time: 9 PM ET
Location: Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT
Broadcast: NBC Sports (in the U.S.)

On the heels of last month's Adamek vs Cunningham 2 showdown, a huge on-air success, Kathy Duva's Main Events and NBC Sports will showcase this year's first NBC Fight Night series, live from Mohegan Sun tonight.

Gabriel "Chico Guapo" Campillo of Spain (21-4 8 KOs), in his first bout since his controversial split decision loss to IBF Light Heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud last February, will face hard-hitting Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev of Russia (19-0-1 17 KOs).

Campillo vs Kovalev was originally slated to take place last year but Campillo was forced to pull out due to a back injury. In the interim, Kovalev took on Lionell Thompson on two weeks notice and wasted no time in dispatching his American foe in the 3rd Round. It marked the seventeenth stoppage of Kovalev's career.

NBC Sports and Main Events will showcase another intriguing Fight Night card tonight 

nbc sports main events

Sergey Kovalev is a skilled puncher with a lot of pop. The biggest weapon in his arsenal is squarely his right hand which he sets up well behind a busy jab. The Russian is also a very poised pressure fighter who looks to break his opponents down and eventually go for the knockout when or if there's a window of opportunity.

On December 5, 2011, the hard hitting Russian took on fellow Russian Roman Simakov, knocking him out in the seventh round. Sadly, Simakov later died three days later due to injuries sustained in the fight. Kovalev went on to win his next two fights, both by knockout.

Gabriel Campillo, a southpaw, is a highly-skilled craftsman who is tall and rangy. He has a good jab and uses a variety of combinations coupled with a good defense.

Gabriel Campillo


Far better than his record indicates, Campillo has had a career marred by controversial decisions.

In June 2009, he won the WBA light heavyweight title from Argentinian Hugo Hernán Garay and successfully defended it by defeating current WBA Light Heavyweight Beibut Shumenov, a top contender at the time, via a majority decision. However, Campillo would lose to Shumenov in their 2010 rematch via spilt decision even though most observers thought Campillo clearly won the second fight.

And unfortunately for Campillo, unfavorable judging would continue.

Eleven months ago, the Spaniard lost a highly controversial decision to Tavoris Cloud in a bout that Campillio appeared to have easily won. He controlled most of the fight and seemingly outboxed the IBF Light Heavyweight Champion, and appeared to have carried at least 9 of the 12 rounds. 

Will things be different for Campillo this time?

Campillo vs Kovalev Keys to Victory

While Campillo has faced world class opposition in Cloud and Shumenov, Kovalev has yet to face a world class opponent nor a fighter of Campillo's pedigree. In addition, the 6'0" Kovalev will be giving up two inches in height, a disparity he's not accustomed to. Both of these elements are to Campillo's advantage.

Sergey Kovalev

418px-Sergey Kovalev

In order to be victorious, Kovalev must utilize a busy jab, attack both the head and the body and create opportunities to get inside and set up his signature right. The Russian is the bigger puncher and must use his power to his advantage.

And since Campillo likes to fight tall and doesn't sit on his punches, it would behoove the Russian to be willing to take a few shots to get inside since his opponent doesn't unleash many heavy bombs.

But Campillo is no stranger to heavy punchers on a big stage. To be successful tonight, he will have to make the jab his primary weapon and use his height and reach to keep Kovalev at bay. Offensively, the Spaniard is equipped with a good arsenal and can unleash fast, crisp combinations while moving.

Tonight, he must hit and move and throw punches in bunches. And simply put, Campillo must dictate the tempo of tonight's bout and exchange with Kovalev on his terms – not the Russian's.

Tune in to this next installment of NBC Fight Night at 9pm ET on NBC Sports. Campillo vs Kovalev is the classic boxer vs puncher match up and it should be an exciting fan-friendly battle as both fighters have a history of bringing excitement to the ring.

Campillo vs Kovalev Facts
  • Gabriel Campillo turned pro in 2002, seven years before Kovalev
  • Sergey Kovalev is trained by Don Turner who trained Evander Holyfield when the latter defeated Mike Tyson and Michael Moorer
  • Age: Campillo is 34, Kovalev is 29
  • Kovalev has an 85% Knockout-to-fights ratio
  • Campillo is ranked No.14 in the light heavyweight division by BoxRec, Kovalev No. 28
  • Both fighters weighed-in at the 175 weight limit
  • Sergey Kovalev fights from an orthodox stance while Campillo is a southpaw