- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Eleven months ago, former light heavyweight titleholder Gabriel Campillo of Spain challenged titlist Tavoris Cloud, and although Campillo was knocked down twice in the first round, he stormed back and many believed he had clearly won the fight.
Then the scores were read and he lost a highly disputed split decision. It was a very tough loss for Campillo (21-4-1, 8 KOs), a southpaw who at least had made a name for himself among the American boxing public.
He was due to return in September to face hot prospect Sergey Kovalev (19-0-1, 17 KOs) of Russia, but Campillo hurt his back, the fight was postponed and Kovalev wrecked replacement opponent Lionell Thompson in three rounds.
Now Campillo's wait is over.
"My back is completely recovered," Campillo said. "Even though I only fought one time last year, I kept training and had sparring sessions throughout the whole year. So I am in great shape."
And ready for the rescheduled fight with Kovalev, which takes place Saturday night (NBC Sports Net, 9 p.m. ET) at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., in the main event on "Fight Night."
"Ever since Feb. 12, I hear a couple of times each day from the people that I deserved that decision," Campillo said of the fight with Cloud.
Kovalev said he also thinks that Campillo beat Cloud.
"He is the strongest, most talented opponent in my professional career," Kovalev said of Campillo. "In my opinion, he should be the champion after his last fight."
Cloud also hasn't fought since facing Campillo, but his next fight was announced on Tuesday. It will be the biggest fight of his career -- a defense against the great Bernard Hopkins on March 9.
Campillo, meanwhile, is taking on the rough, tough Kovalev for a lot less money than he would be making had he been awarded the title many believe he deserved. However, he isn't dwelling on what could have been.
"I want to fight every big name in the division until I am considered the No. 1 boxer in the 175-pound weight class," he said.
To get a chance for those fights, he has to beat Kovalev, a daunting task.
"He's a dangerous boxer with a very good right cross," Campillo said. "But he has never fought a world class boxer like me. I am great at bobbing and weaving and counterpunching. If we go to the scorecards, I have no doubt I'll win by a huge margin. But just maybe one of my counterpunches will end the fight."
In the co-feature, former middleweight title challenger Elvin Ayala (26-5-1, 12 KOs) will face Curtis Stevens (22-3, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder.