On the Grind: Tavoris Cloud-Gabriel Campillo Preview


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Tavoris Cloud defends his IBF light heavyweight title against Gabriel Campillo tonight at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. As par for the course for Cloud, it’s been a while.

Cloud, 23-0 with 19 KOs, is a fan-friendly puncher who has thus far had a career plagued by setbacks and stints of inactivity. He had two fights in 2008, one fight in 2009, another two in 2010, and again, only one bout last year. That doesn’t quite describe a bullet train towards big money bouts, but questionable decisions, promotional conflicts, plus bad luck, such as Zsolt Erdei pulling out of a December 31 bout due to a hand injury, has continued to hedge his momentum.

Still, he’s an explosive fighter who seeks thrilling knockouts over a win-now-look-good-later approach, and even if fights are few and far between, he provides enough in each performance to create a lasting impression. His triple left hooks, mixed with violent uppercuts and hard-hat body work, are as caustic as they are eye-catching. And he’s shown himself to be undeterred by return fire, capable of taking a decent punch and bouncing back from rough stretches.

But Cloud, Tallahassee, Florida, like most sluggers, isn’t without vulnerabilities. Equipped with slow feet to offset relatively fast hands, he had issues catching up with Yusaf Mack last June before finally short-circuiting him with a leaping left hook in the eighth round. Mack, a guy that likes to move but isn’t particularly slippery, exposed Cloud’s affinity towards following his prey instead of cutting off the ring.

Also, while he has rocks in his gloves, he isn’t great at finishing a staggered opponent. Fulgencio Zuniga and Clinton Woods weren’t easy men to hurt, and the 30-year-old had both of them skating. Glen Johnson is one of the most durable fighters in recent memory, and even he got put on shaky legs from one of Cloud’s volleys. But each of them survived, because instead of tearing into the rib cage and keeping his dazed adversary guessing with a variety of blows, he opted to loft haymakers into their guard.

So knocking out Gabriel Campillo, known for a set of steely whiskers and a sturdy guard, can prove a difficult task. Campillo, 21-3-1 with 8 KOs, comes from the Winky Wright school of fighting: while opponents wear themselves out prodding through and around his earmuffs, he consistently stuffs a jab in their mouth. The southpaw tends to be a slow starter, but once he gets going, his right hand is active and pesky, and he compounds it with accurate straight lefts and uppercuts.

But Campillo probably won’t take advantage of Cloud’s cement feet. The 33-year-old is more comfortable coming forward behind the aforementioned guard than fighting off his back foot. Cloud won’t have trouble finding him, and even if he has difficulty landing flush head punches, thrashing Campillo’s midsection alone should bag him rounds. Moreover, evident by his eight knockouts in 25 bouts, Campillo’s punch lacks starch, and shouldn’t deter Cloud from banging away at the taller man’s body.

When Cloud meets a durable opponent, it’s a competitive and entertaining clash. Saturday night likely won’t be any different. But because Cloud’s punches have the zip that Campillo’s arsenal lacks, any debatable round will be a Cloud round, regardless if Campillo is the more accurate of the two. Campillo, Madrid, Spain, dropped close – sometimes dubious – decisions against Beibut Shumenov and Karo Murat, and Cloud is a far more violent puncher than either of those two. He’ll need to conclusively outwork his younger adversary to have a realistic chance of winning the title.

Win or lose, hopefully we see Tavoris Cloud return to the ring quicker than we’re accustomed to.

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Tags: Gabriel Campillo Light Heavyweights Tarvoris Cloud

  • thenonpareil

    Hi MN,

    I think I ragged on Campillo a while back after the second Shumenov fight–which was highway robbery–because of his iffy footwork and slapping punches. He’s also been stopped by that Uzelkov fella, whom I’ve butchered here before. The thing is, he does come forward throwing annoying punches out of a southpaw stance. Is Cloud that effective backing up? And can Campillo make him do so? I don’t think he punches hard enough, but he might be an irritant in there for as long as he lasts.

    I like Cloud because of his demeanor and attitude, but I’m not crazy about his defense. Let’s see if Campillo can take advantage of it so that we can have a good fight. I want to see a good fight other than one involving Chavez Jr. in 2012!

  • Andrew Fruman

    Hey Michael, nice preview. Of all the fights on today’s line-up, this is the one I’m most interested in. I enjoy watching Cloud, and unfortunately, we don’t get to see nearly enough of him. I agree, it’s going to very tough for Campillo, as he’s going be right there in front of Cloud – and the power disparity is big. But, as Carlos mentioned, he might prove a bit of an irritant. Cloud like to set his feet and rip, and Campillo might be able to off-set his rhythm enough with the jab to make it interesting.

  • Michael Nelson

    @thenonpareil Hey CA,

    On point. Cloud wasn’t effective backing up, or coming forward for that matter. Cloud has to have his feet set before he throws, and when he does, his stuff is a little too mechanical/compact for someone who gives as many angles as Campillo. And Campillo moved more than I anticipated.

    Needless to say, David Robertson’s card was disgusting.

  • Michael Nelson

    @Andrew Fruman Hey Andrew,

    You called it about Cloud having to set his feet. He was off-balance the whole fight, and got trashed most rounds. Another example of where your idea of half-point scoring would come in handy.