Gabriel "The Handsome Man" Campillo (21-4-1, 8 KOs) and Sergey Kovalev (19-0-1, 17 KOs) will look to add some spice to a bland light heavyweight division.
The two will battle on NBC Sports Fight Night series on Saturday.
This is a mildly intriguing fight, but I can't help but be distracted by the state of the weight class. A 48-year-old Bernard Hopkins is not only relevant in the division, but he's still among the best performers at 175 pounds.
That speaks to Hopkins' amazing longevity, but it also makes the competition look terrible. Campillo and Kovalev are among the fighters looking to break into the upper-echelon of the division.
Campillo recently had his shot at the title, but he lost a controversial split decision to IBF champion Tavoris Cloud. Kovalev's quality of competition hasn't been quite as good, so Campillo represents a significant step-up.
The 29-year-old Russian has been exciting as he's knocked out 85 percent of the fighters he's faced. If he scores yet another impressive victory, he could become the division's much-needed fresh new face.
The two men were scheduled to meet in September 2012, but Campillo suffered a back injury and was replaced by Lionell Thompson (Max Boxing). With everyone healthy, the fight can finally take place.
Here's how you can watch the fight and some deeper analysis into the matchup.
When: Saturday, Jan. 19, 9 p.m. ET
Where: Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, Conn.
TV: NBC Sports
The Book on Campillo
The Handsome Man is a very slick southpaw with good hand speed and accuracy. He fights tall and has excellent foot work.
He showed a good chin, stamina and resolve against Cloud. Take a look at the video highlights of the fight below:
The champion dropped Campillo twice in the first round, which mildly explains how Campillo loss the decision. He rebounded to dominate most of the rounds the rest of the way, thus the controversy.
Kovalev is perhaps an even bigger puncher than Cloud, so Campillo can't afford another slow start. He is the more experienced and agile fighter in this fight, but he offers little in the way of power.
His modest eight KOs are proof of that.
At 6'2", he is two inches taller than his opponent; keeping the fight on the outside, tying-up on the inside, and lateral movement is a must if he plans to hand Kovalev his first defeat.
The Book on Kovalev
Kovalev doesn't have tremendous foot speed, but his punches get from A to B in a hurry. That's especially the case with his powerful straight right hand.
The Russian has devastating KO power, and he displayed that in his last fight—which was also on NBC Sports' Fight Night Series—against Thompson.
Thompson was stopped in the third round, but the significant damage was done in the second. Check out the 7:15 mark of the video:
Thompson's style is similar to Campillo, but Campillo is bigger and he's a southpaw. Both physical attributes could be problematic for Kovalev.
The longer this fight goes, the more it favors Campillo. A fight that goes beyond seven rounds would suggest that he's either taken Kovalev's shots well or his defense has confused the less-experienced fighter.
If neither is the case, Kovalev could finish him early.
I've been impressed with both fighters lately, but Kovalev looks like the real deal.
His punching power and hand speed won't allow Campillo to slip and/or absorb his punches all night. The latter doesn't have the power to keep Kovalev at bay, and he'll ultimately be hit by a night-changing blow.
Kovalev will KO Campillo by the fourth round.
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