Mike Campbell has heard this story before.
“Everyone says they’re going to come in here and beat me up. That’s fine,” Campbell said. “Saying it and doing it are two different things.”
Needless to say, Campbell barely flinched when Brazilian lightweight Abner Lloveras predicted a second-round knockout win in their upcoming title fight scheduled for Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 at the Twin River Event Center.
“Hopefully, he puts his money where his mouth is,” Campbell said.
Next month’s five-round showdown between Campbell and Lloveras is for the Classic Entertainment & Sports Mixed Martial Arts lightweight title, only the second title bout in CES’ history, and will be the main event of “Undisputed II,” presented by Jimmy Burchfield. For Campbell (12-4, 7 KOs), it will be his toughest to date, but certainly nothing new for the Providence, R.I., native who is accustomed to fighting top-tier competition; since November of 2011, Campbell has won three consecutive bouts against opponents with a combined record of 28-18.
“I haven’t had any easy fights in the past few years,” Campbell said. “I’m just trying to win fights and fight the best fighters in the country. If not, what am I fighting for?”
Lloveras (15-6-1, 5 KOs) certainly fits that mold. A former Spanish Olympic Boxing gold medalist, Lloveras has won three consecutive fights, including an impressive victory over Ryan Quinn at Twin River in June in which he repeatedly stuffed Quinn’s takedown attempts and utilized his superior stand-up game to win the fight on all three scorecards.
“I have seen some of Mike’s fight and he has an explosive style,” Lloveras said. “He has 16 pro fights and is very respected in the northeast MMA circle. That’s a strong background to consider.
“This fight with Mike Campbell is a late Christmas gift for fans in this region,” added Lloveras’ trainer, Marco Alvan. “I’ve witnessed how serious Abner is taking this fight and I’m very confident he will have a great performance and bring home the win.”
Putting a title on the line adds even more allure to what is already one of the most highly-anticipated fights of 2013.
“This is what I’ve always wanted,” Campbell said, “and what better belt to fight for than the CES title? I made history fighting the main event on their first show in Rhode Island [in September of 2010] and now I’m ready to make more history.”
Lloveras, who now trains out of Ludlow, Mass., has more experience in title bouts having fought for both M-1 and Shooto championships, so he’s used to preparing for and fighting five rounds rather than three, but anyone who’s followed Campbell knows his conditioning is never a problem.
“I don’t think anyone would question that,” Campbell said. “Five five-minute rounds? Most guys lose their pace while I maintain my pace. I’m not really concerned about it because I tend to over-train anyway. I’m just doing what I do. The way I see it, it’s only another 10 minutes out of my life.
“I’m just working on my skill sets,” he continued. “I’m watching a lot of film on him, which is the first time in a long time for me. I want to develop a game plan and implement it. I know I can adapt within the first round if I know what he’s going to do. If I can do it faster, that’s even better for me.”
Campbell has paid particular attention to Lloveras’ win over Quinn in which he neutralized Quinn’s strength – his wrestling ability – and fought on his own terms.
“He looked good,” Campbell said of Lloveras, “but the other thing he did was put Quinn on his heels and kept him from coming forward. He kept jabbing. Quinn didn’t set it up properly. I’m not saying Abner isn’t a good wrestler, but people always ask me who does better in a fight between a wrestler or boxer. It’s about who’s more efficient. I was impressed with his ability to stuff takedowns, but I think he’s one dimensional – definitely not the most well-rounded, but clearly a threat.”
“I don’t think people overlook my ground skills, but they usually respect me more for my boxing,” countered Lloveras. “I won three national gold medals in Spain as a boxer and I was close to qualifying for the London Olympics, but I’ve also competed in and won many [Brazilian jiu-jitsu] tournaments. This is MMA, so I try to be a complete and well-rounded fighter.
“The priority [against Quinn] was to hit him and then defend his powerful wrestling. As we were getting ready for the fight my coach told me, ‘This guy is coming for you! He’s coming off a loss [to Ultimate Fighting Championships veteran] Ricardo Funch, so he’s hungry. You need to keep calm and work to get up.’ That’s just what happened. It was a great win.”
Whoever comes out on top in February will continue to climb the rankings in the lightweight division while adding a new piece of hardware to their collection. This one is for all the marbles, and both sides have a lot at stake.
“I’m coming to win the belt,” Campbell said. “I’m not saying I’m going to knock him out, but I’m coming to win the belt. I want to make it look like he doesn’t belong in there with me.
“It’s a title fight, so there’s a lot of anxiety that comes with that, and some guys can’t control their emotions, but I don’t get tired and I don’t get nervous. Fighting is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical. I’ll fight whether it’s in the cage or in the schoolyard.”
“Undisputed II” also features Woonsocket, R.I., bantamweight Andre Soukhamthath (3-1, 2 KOs) battling Kurt Chase Patrick (4-2, 1 KO) of Seymour, Conn., and a welterweight showdown between Wilfredo Santiago (3-1, 3 KOs) of Lawrence, Mass., and Darius Heyliger (4-1, 2 KOs) of Courtland, N.Y. Featherweight Joe Pingitore (2-0, 1 KO) of Johnston, R.I., will face Boston’s Sergio Moran Cabrera (2-0) and both Eric Spicely of Providence, R.I., and Kemran Lachinov of Springfield, Mass., will make their professional debuts against one another in a three-round welterweight.
Dedham, Mass., welterweight Brett Oteri (11-3, 1 KO) and heavyweight Pat Walsh (2-0, 1 KO) of West Bridgewater, Mass., will be on the undercard in separate three-round bouts while welterweight Toby Oden of Milford, Mass., and Worcester, Mass., lightweight Terell Clark will make their professional debuts in separate bouts.
Tickets for “Undisputed II” are $36.00, $56.00, $101.00 and $126.00 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesmma.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.