Washed up? Nah, Yory Boy is a man now

5/1/2007 - Boxing

This past weekend's NFL draft was a healthy reminder that sports is about so much more than physical characteristics. Football's meat market is the ultimate in overvaluing quantifiable speed and size. There is very little talk about experience. Not so in boxing. The more you analyze the fight game, the more you realize experience is everything.

Experience is the thing that kept Roberto Duran a multidivisional champ well past his prime years as a young 20-something lightweight. Experience is what will allow an inferior athletic older journeyman to make a fool of an overconfident young prospect. And this week, on "Wednesday Night Fights," experience is what will have you tuning in to see a main event in which each fighter has "been there, done that" time and time again.

Luis "Yory Boy" Campas (88-9) is back in the spotlight. He faces Eromosele Albert (19-1), the Olympian who is 32 years old yet has fought only 20 professional fights (Wednesday 9 p.m. ET., ESPN2).

Yes, that Yory Boy. The one who knocked down Felix Trinidad in their 1994 welterweight title fight. The Yory Boy who claimed a junior middleweight belt in 1997. The Yory Boy who was lined up as a winnable fight for Oscar De La Hoya in 2003.

Let's be honest now: 19 years, seven months and 516 total rounds into his pro career, the 35-year-old Luis Ramon Campas needs a new nickname. The "Boy" thing just isn't cutting it. He may want to skip right from Yory Man to Yory Geezer.

Oh, but wait. All that experience is bubbling up to make us think again. He still can entertain. He still can show those flashes of championship heart. And he still thinks of himself as a threat.

"I feel that this is a fight I need to win to bring me up to the level that I used to be," Campas said. "I think I deserve a shot at somebody like Fernando Vargas or Winky Wright or Shane Mosley."

Those matchups aren't realistic right now. What is real is that uber-hyped unbeaten prospect Irish John Duddy was taken to the limit by Yory Boy. In fact, Duddy was lucky to finish the fight. It was a war. The kind of fight that has Duddy's popularity growing among the rabid action-seeking New York fight fans.

What about Yory Boy? Doesn't he deserve something for that fight? Campas' experience showed through. He rocked Duddy early, opened up a cut over his left eye, gave way in the middle rounds, but finished strong enough to have many questioning if Duddy would last.

Campas thought he had won the fight. Duddy's people haven't put him in that tough a fight since then and aren't set to do it anytime soon. As for Campas' reward, he gets a 19-1 fighter with a boatload of amateur experience. There it is again: experience.

Eromosele Albert is a Nigerian native who trains alongside light heavyweight champ Glen Johnson in Florida. Albert survived brutal matchmaking early in his career to maintain a stellar 19-1 record. It was all that amateur experience that paved the road for him. More specifically, 568 amateur bouts. Albert took part in two Olympiads, boxing amateur for 16 years, starting at 10 years old.

"Before we would go to school in the morning my dad got us up at 4:30 a.m. to go for a run. We would run for two hours, like 16 miles, barefoot, no shoes," Albert said, describing his childhood in Nigeria.

"I was only 10 years old then. One of my brothers was 8, the other was 6. Then we get dressed and go to school. My dad followed us with the motorbike, so you can't cheat."

How guilty do you feel right now for complaining about waiting for the school bus? Sixteen miles barefoot! Cheat, little boy, please cheat!

Eromosele Albert makes Tiger Woods look like some guy who played a little golf as a kid; 568 amateur fights is an extraordinary total. That's an amateur fight a week for just short of 11 straight years.

"I don't know much about Campas," Albert said. "A couple of people told me he fought Oscar De La Hoya, but I don't really care. Somebody told me he has a lot of experience, like that would discourage me, no. I got a lot of experience, too. I stayed too long in the amateurs, you know?"

Yes, we know. So here it is, a main event that pits a Mexican native closing in on 100 pro fights against an African native who has logged more ring time than any 32-year-old I could name. Now the only other experience factor to be discussed is ours, as we get to experience two cagey veterans clashing on Wednesday night.

Joe Tessitore is the blow-by-blow announcer for ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights."