Campas at His Outer Limits
There was a “Twilight Zone” episode 40 years ago about a boxing mismatch between androids, an outdated B-2 named Battling Maxo and a state-of-the-art B-7 named the Maynard Flash. Maxo is so run down that he can’t make it out of the dressing room for the opening bell, forcing his manager, Steel Kelly, to disguise himself as an android and enter the ring even though it was illegal for humans to fight. Predictably, the Maynard Flash almost kills Kelly.
Back in the dressing room, Kelly, played by Lee Marvin, is battered and bruised and bleeding. But his spirit is unbroken. He vows to raise enough money for the spare parts and rewiring necessary to transform Battling Maxo back into a fighting machine.
Rod Serling, the show’s creator, said that the episode reflected man’s eternal optimism, the sense that with persistence, ingenuity and duct tape a B-2 can compete in a B-7 world. But there was a reason that Serling, a former amateur boxer, chose to adapt a story revolving around the sweet science.
It’s because boxers are the most optimistic cusses around.
That brings us to Yory Boy Campas, a B-2 if there ever was one.
Until his corner surrendered with six seconds left in the seventh round Saturday night at Mandalay Bay Events Center, Campas acted as if he actually didn’t know what a farce it was that he was in the ring against Oscar De La Hoya.
Campas might have been the only one on Earth, human or android, who didn’t know it.
He was a 25-1 underdog, with most people who bet on such things wagering that he wouldn’t last more than 6 1/2 rounds.
Campas’ record before Saturday was 80-5 with 68 knockouts. Most interesting about that, though, are not the wins and losses but the fact that, at 31, he had already had 85 professional fights. De La Hoya is one year younger but was fighting Saturday night for merely the 38th time professionally.
“Yory Boy is tired; he’s been in too many wars,” Fernando Vargas said before finishing off Campas in seven rounds.
That was five years and 11 fights ago. HBO refused to accept him as an opponent for Shane Mosley last year because Campas was considered as broken down as Battling Maxo, having been TKO’d in three of his last four bouts against name opponents.
So how did this fight get made?
One reason is that De La Hoya, who hadn’t fought since beating Vargas last September, needed an interim fight to force him to stay in some semblance of shape for his rematch in September with Mosley, and he needed it to be against a fighter who wouldn’t seriously challenge him. That didn’t mean someone like Winky Wright, who made it to ringside Saturday night but only with a ticket.
As De La Hoya said recently, “I’ve taken big fights my whole life. Sometimes one has to take a break.”
Another reason is that he was guaranteed $8 million, with a potential for $11 million, for what amounted to a glorified workout.
Promoter Bob Arum believed that he could sell the fight on pay-per-view for $49.95 not only to De La Hoya’s fans but also to those who remember Campas as the title-holder he was about 80 rounds ago.
Making Campas an even more perfect opponent was that virtually none of the spoils would have to be shared with him. He didn’t even get his picture on the official fight poster. His guarantee was for a mere $100,000, which, after he pays taxes, training expenses and handlers, will buy him a bus ticket back home to Mexico.
Still, Campas was eager to take the fight, and the reason is that he believed, all evidence to the contrary, that he could win.
“The fight will end by knockout,” he told reporters last week.
“For you?” one asked.
Even Campas had to laugh before replying, yes, for him.
But he was not to have his Buster Douglas moment.
De La Hoya won each round convincingly. He wanted more practice throwing right jabs and, because of a smarting left wrist, he got plenty of that. Even one-handed, he threw 498 punches and connected on 264 for 53%. Campas threw 348 punches and connected on 75 for 22%. Even if De La Hoya wasn’t so quick, Campas is too slow to hit him.
The only thing memorable about this fight is the number of times that Campas lost his mouthpiece, six times in six rounds.
In his 86th fight, he should have known how to wear a mouthpiece.
One small triumph for Campas is that he never went down.
“I don’t know what he has in his head,” De La Hoya said. “He can take a punch.”
Another was that Campas lasted more than 6 1/2 rounds. His manager, who could have stopped the fight at least one round earlier without much protest from Campas or the 11,025 in attendance, allowed him to do that, by almost two minutes.
So Campas was sufficiently encouraged to say that he will return. He said that he will go home to Mexico, rest for a month and then wait for the phone to ring to learn the identity of his next opponent.
If he’s lucky, it will be someone of his class. He should stay away from the Oscar De La Hoyas and the Maynard Flashes.
Randy Harvey can be reached at email@example.com.