Luis Ramon “Yuri Boy” Campas
Former Mexican Welterweight Champion, Former NABF Welterweight Champion, Former NABO Light Middleweight Champion, Former IBF Light Middleweight Champion, Former IBA Light Middleweight Champion, Former WBC Mundo Hispano Middleweight Champion, Former NABA Middleweight Champion, Former IBA Continental Light Middleweight Champion, Former #1 ranked World Contender
Born: August 6, 1971 Navajoa, Mexico
Record: 92-14-1, 74 KO’s
For a fighter who has won over eight championships in his career, including two world titles, Luis “Yuri Boy” Campas is surprisingly soft spoken. But perhaps that is not much of a surprise, when a fighter has amassed over 92 wins in over 107 fights it goes without saying that he’s “seen it all before.” But for the 38-year old contender, he also recognizes that October 30th will be his most important fight since he stepped in the ring to challenge Oscar De La Hoya for the WBC and WBA Light Middleweight title’s back in 2003. After all, a win might make another title fight a reality where as a loss would all be end his run as a force in the junior middleweight division. Facing junior middleweight contender Hector “Machito” Camacho Jr. in El Paso, Texas on October 30th, Campas knows it’s “do or die” for his career. And he knows who it was who put his career in such a precarious position: Hector Camacho Sr. Although the jovial and good natured Campas has been polite and professional during his press conference, there is little question that he is still fuming at the result of his last fight, a draw with the 48-year old Hector Camacho Sr. Favored against the future Hall-of-Fame champion, Campas saw the elder Camacho wrestle and hold his way to a somewhat controversial draw that had boxing insiders wondering if he was finished as a contender. The draw would have been bad enough on its own, but there was the “bad blood” issue. The elder Camacho and Campas engaged in a war of words that at times got so heated that the younger Camacho decided to take up the charge. Offended and upset at the treatment his father received by Campas and his manager, Joe Diaz, Camacho challenged Campas to a fight to settle the score, a fight that Campas was more than happy to accept. After all, what better way to make people forget a bad fight with Hector Camacho then by topping it off with a knockout over Hector Camacho.
For Campas, it is hard to believe that one of the most celebrated champions from Mexico in the last twenty years started his career off on an obscure club show in Ciudad Obregon Mexico back on July 11, 1987 with a first round knockout over Gaby Vega. Few boxing insiders paid much attention to the fight: after all, Mexican brawlers were a dime a dozen and what made this one so special? A year later Campas improved to 9-0 with another first round knockout over Gaby Vegas (again), and although his glossy record was turning a few heads, there was little question that the quality of opposition was lacking. In fact, over the next two years Campas would see his record improve with each fight, a solid win here and there over sturdy veterans like Luis Garcia, Jesus Ramirez, and Luis Mora coupled with dozens of wins over virtual unknown’s, many of them without a single win on their resume.
Then came December 10, 1990. Campas had amassed a Julio Cesar Chavez like record of 31-0 against limited opposition, but for the first time he was facing what was widely regarded as a world class journeyman in Luis Francisco Perez. Perez, who had a 17-6 record, was nowhere near the world rankings, but was proving to be a solid journeyman gatekeeper, losing to contenders like Tyrone Trice and prospects like Eduardo Cruz (who was 19-0 at the time) while beating many of the other Mexican journeymen in his division. Most thought Campas would win, but when the fight was stopped on cuts after four rounds, boxing fans realized something else: Campas was one of the best welterweight prospects in the world.
Five months later Campas captured the first of his many titles when he stopped Jesus Cardenas in the seventh round in a fight for the Mexican Welterweight title. Two months after that Campas stopped Arizona State Welterweight Champion Cassius Clay Horne in the second round in a fight in Tijuana. Four months and three fights later, Campas stopped prospect Greg Dickson in two rounds (also in Tijuana).
By now boxing was abuzz over the stir caused by Campas, but many insiders noted that he still had not beaten a ranked fighter. Wins over Horne and Dickson were impressive, but neither of them was ranked in the top ten. So in June of 1992 took on the toughest opponent of his career up to that point, fighting undefeated NABF Welterweight Champion Roger Turner in a fight that promised a world title fight for the winner. It was the perfect clash of styles. Campas was a brawler and a puncher, Turner was a slick boxer with a rapid fire jab. The fight proved to be a close one: Turner’s boxing and speed gave Campas fits at times, but the tenacity of the Mexican carried the day as he won a twelve round majority decision to capture the NABF belt.
For the next two years Campas remained active as he positioned himself for the world title fight that was sure to come, knocking out durable foes like Anthony Ivory, former champions like Jorge Vaca, and lower level contenders like Louis Howard and Floyd Williams as he waited for the opportunity to arise. And on September 17, 1994 in Las Vegas Nevada it finally happened: after a mind boggling 56-straight wins his first world title fight. There was only one thing that stood in his way: legendary Puerto Rican Welterweight Champion Felix Trinidad.
It proved to be a war; Campas dropped the future hall of famer in the second round, and for the entire world it looked like boxing was ready to introduce its newest Mexican superstar. But for perhaps the first time in boxing history, the inexperience of the fighter with 56 wins began to show as Trinidad fought through a disastrous second round to give Campas fits in the third. By round four the “take two to land one” strategy of Campas finally failed him. Trinidad battered Campas in the fourth, prompting the referee to stop the fight with Campas still on his feet.
Campas seemed to rebound from his first loss quite nicely, with wins over Cassius Clay Horne (again), Young Dick Tiger, Genaro Leon (for the NABO Welterweight title) and contender Anthony “Baby” Jones (whom he starched in two rounds). By October of 1996 he was poised for his second world title fight: a WBO Welterweight fight against fellow Mexican Jose Luis Lopez, the reigning champion. Campas was heavily favored to win his first world title, but despite sixty-four wins in sixty-five fights, the world title eluded him a second time as the fight ended in a technical decision after five rounds. Lopez was ahead on the scorecards and won the decision, handing Campas his second loss in a world title fight and leaving many boxing insiders to wonder if he would go down as the best fighter never to win a world title.
Campas bounced back with a second round knockout over contender Fidel Avendano and followed that up with three straight wins, but few felt that anything short of a world title would matter for the popular brawler. And he was running out of opportunities. So when he was selected to fight undefeated IBF light middleweight champion Raul Marquez in December of 1997, few doubted that Campas could care less that he was the underdog again. Marquez may have had an impressive 28-0 record, but what he didn’t have was an answer to the relentless pressure of the Mexican. With the fight close after seven rounds, Campas was able to score the stoppage in the eighth to win his first world championship.
Campas proved to be as active a champion as he was a contender, defending the belt three times over the next nine months with stoppage wins over Anthony Stevens, Pedro Ortega, and Larry Barnes. But in December of 1998Campas was again faced with a title fight against a highly decorated undefeated prospect. Like Trinidad, he was proving to be immensely popular and a devastating puncher to boot. Like Marquez he had impressive Olympic credentials on his resume. His name was Fernando Vargas. On paper it seemed like a gross mismatch. Campas had an impressive 72-2 record while Vargas seemed green at 14-0. But those who saw Vargas’ rise up the IBF rankings knew that he was possibly greatest Mexican American prospect to hit the sport since Oscar De La Hoya, and when the fight ended with Campas sitting on his stool after seven rounds, there was little question that Campas had just lost to one of the best fighters in the world.
It might have been the end of the road for Campas. He followed the loss to Vargas with two wins before getting stopped by fellow contender Oba Carr in March of 2000, a loss that seemed to close the book on Campas as a contender. But if there is one emerging trend in the career of Luis Campas it is this: whenever boxing tried to close the book on him, he punches it back open. Selected to fight veteran Tony Ayala Jr. in a fight that looked to propel the 27-0 Ayala back into the world rankings back in July of 2000, Campas dominated the one time hottest prospect in boxing en route to an eighth round stoppage (Ayala didn’t come off his stool in the 9th round). Campas then followed the Ayala win with stoppages over seventy-seven fight winner Rob Bleakly and seventy-four fight winner Tony Menefee in his next two fights. By March of 2002 he was poised for another world title fight, this one against Puerto Rican contender Daniel Santos for the vacant WBO Light Middleweight championship. Campas came up short in that fight (getting stopped in the eleventh), but did well enough to secure one other title fight against the biggest superstar in the sport in Oscar De La Hoya the following year. De La Hoya also stopped him, this time in seven, seemingly ending his run as a contender for the last time.
But then again, the experts forgot to tell Yuri Boy Campas. Campas won his next five fights, with two spilt decisions and a majority decision in the group, before losing a twelve round decision to Eric Regan in 2005. A win for the WBC Mundo Hispano Title followed before he lost a razor thin split decision to Matt Vanda for the IBA America’s title. A loss to John Duddy in 2006 followed before Campas bounced back with a decision win over current #13 ranked junior middleweight contender Billy Lyell in June of 2007. He then defeated a future semi finalist on the TV show The Contender, Norberto Bravo, by decision two months later. An unsuccessful tour of Europe followed shortly after that before Campas bounced back again with a first round KO over world ranked contender Alejandro Garcia in June of last year. That win was followed the following year with the disappointing draw with the elder Hector Camacho in May of this year.
For Campas, it would be easy to write him off, boxing experts have done it before. But Campas has proved time and time again that he is unwilling to give up his place in the world rankings without a fight, and that is what he promises Hector Camacho Jr. on October 30th in El Paso.