Â Nate Campbell
TKO Verdict Overturned to No Contest
By Kenneth Miller
Sentinel Managing Editor
Former undisputed lightweight champion Nate Campbell said that he felt more nervous at the Junipero Serra State Building August 24 than he was in the ring against Timothy Bradley on August 1 at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort for their WBO 140-pound championship clash.
As it turned out it was a good reason for Campbell’s anxiety because the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) took much longer than expect to overturn Bradley’s 3rd round TKO victory, but ultimately got it right when it voted to overturn the verdict to a No Contest.
Not only did the ruling last much longer than the fight, but it also took some unexpected twist and turns as the CSAC heard testimony from Campbell, his lawyer and co-promoter, and Bradley his co-promoter and his father and manager Timothy Bradley Sr.
Campbell and his team argued with visual and verbal testimony that he suffered from an accidental head butt at 2:44 of the 3rd round and that it was the clash of heads that prevented him from continuing.
Moments later, Bradley and his team defended referee Dave Mendoza’s choice to award him the victory, challenging that it was the barrage of blows from Bradley’s fist that caused for Campbell’s eye to bleed and prevented him from continuing the fight.
Then during perhaps the most baffling moment during the hearing that lasted for several hours, Mendoza contradicted his own statements made on Showtime to reporter Jim Gray when he then admitted that it was a head butt that caused the cut and that’s why he stopped it.
Asked by Chair Tim Noonan of the CSAC if he meant what he said to Gray immediately afterward, Mendoza awkwardly retorted, “That’s not exactly what I meant.”
Mendoza accused Gray of soliciting a response that he did not necessarily agree with, and fought vehemently to have the 3rd round TKO verdict upheld.
One commissioner who spoke on condition of anonymity suggested that Mendoza is one of the licensed referees who has perhaps lost a step, but I’ll add that he has either also lost his mind or perhaps was persuaded to take such a definitive stand.
Even the individuals on Campbell’s steered clear of any criticism of Mendoza out of respect for the official who has been in the ring during 11 world championship fights, but steadfastly called his decision on the night of the fight “Wrong!”
On a bright day lifted brighter with sunshine, the CSAC took one blow after another during their annual meeting, but in the end Chair Noonan and his crew carefully digested all of the information from both sides and then got it right.
“My hat is off the commission for doing their due diligence and rendering a just and fair verdict by upholding their very own rules and regulations,” said Campbell’s promoter Don King.
“In these sort of unfortunate situations all you can hope for is for the governing body to be fair and they certainly did that,” added King.
Thus, Campbell’s reputation is vindicated and his career back on the course towards a title showdown. Whether or not it will be against Bradley is another question and open for debate.Â