As I entered the Garden tonight from the press entrance collecting my media credential I was looking forward to what would be my first time covering the fights. Being on the outside of the ring and having to write about what I am seeing is a lot harder than I thought. I would have to honestly say it is a lot easier for me to fight in the Garden then to be here as media.
Having personal friendships with both Paulie Malignaggi and Nate Campbell I don’t have the luxury of that emotional detachment that most media enjoy.
Watching Nate Campbell fight tonight left a pain in my heart. Nate is a veteran and has accomplished so much in this sport. Tonight’s fight was a deciding factor in where Nate’s career is headed. I have personally known Nate for over 5 year. We have spoken about everything from Christianity to Boxing to personal struggles.
Many people may not know this but Nate is an Ordained Minister. Leading up to this fight I had the opportunity of being a part of his prayer line which he began as part of his ministry. At 830am every morning Nate would conduct a prayer session via conference call where anyone can call in and pray. After this experience I can see that Nate is truly a man guided by God. His selflessness was evident as he proclaimed his glory to Him.
Tonight having seen this man I have a spiritual connection with get in the ring and fight for his life was something to experience. Nate did not come out victorious. Victor Ortiz was just too fast and fought the perfect fight outboxing and outscoring Nate in every round from a distance.
I spoke to Nate within minutes of his exit from the ring in his locker room. Nate’s response when asked how he felt was simple and to the point: “I just couldn’t pull the trigger”. That is exactly what it looked like from my seat. When asked what was next for Nate Campbell, his response was honest and sincere. H explained how his body was just not responding like it use to in training camps. Every training camp since 2007 Nate Says has been plagued by injury. “Retirement is a serious consideration.” “I owe it myself and my team to face the reality.” “I have had a great career. I have not been Nate Campbell in that ring for a while.” Nate was honest and sure of his decision.
I have nothing but respect for Nate. He has had a great career and has done his best with his circumstances. He stated, “I will always be involved in boxing in some way.”
Entering the ring next was the main event, Paulie Malignaggi Vs Amir Khan. This was sure to be an exciting bout considering the incidents and “smack talk” which took place prior to the event. Both fighters came out showing speed and high punch output from the opening bell. It seemed early on that Khan was the faster of the two, beating Paulie with his jab and punch accuracy. Paulie fought a tough fight never backing up, always attempting to answer Khans combinations with a combination of his own. Khan was just too fast and too accurate for the always game and “warrior- like” Malignaggi. After 11 rounds of blade like punches landing on Malignaggi’s face the fight was stopped by referee Steve Smoger.
One thing I have always loved and respected about Paulie is his sportsman like conduct after each fight. No matter what drama ignites leading up to a fight, Paulie is always quick to show his respect for his fellow competitor. Paulie keeps things real with himself and his fans. Some love to hate him and others just respect and accept him for who he is and his opinions.
After watching these two true competitors give their all in the ring I soon realized that I was not there as a spectator supporting my friends, but had to critique their performances as a neutral party. That for me was a lot easier said than done. Both Nate and Paulie gave it their all and left their hearts in the ring at Madison Square Garden. And as a fighter myself, I know firsthand, win lose or draw that is all that truly matters.