Hard-working Campbell faces defining moment

Hard-working Rowan Campbell is rewarded for his toil with a SA title crack on Friday night. Pic: N-SQUARED

Rowan Campbell is so laid back, you wouldn’t believe he is topping the bill at Emperors Palace on Friday night.

The nerves have been parked and there’s excitement rather than anxiety ahead of his SA super-middleweight championship showdown against Renson Hobyani.

“I’m not too fazed,” he admitted on Sunday night. “The harder I train, the better I feel.”

The inference is that he’s trained tremendously hard and will be prepared for whatever Hobyani will throw at him.

Campbell sparred tons of rounds against Isaac Chilemba, who went 12 rounds with WBA champion Dmitry Bivol at the weekend, and has pocketed many lessons. Chilemba was clever and crafty and Campbell had to be on top of his game. He came away from the experienced encouraged and enthused. Despite Chilemba’s far greater experience, Campbell hung tough with the battle-hardened veteran.

Campbell knows that the SA title doesn’t have the cachet it once did, but for him it’s everything at this stage of his career. That he’s getting a title shot after just seven fights speaks of the accelerated speed of his career and the trajectory Golden Gloves has him on.

“Yes, it’s come early, but I’m ready. I intend to win and be a good champion.”

Despite the former Parktown schoolboy having no amateur experience to speak of, he believes that trainer Peter Smith has had him on the fast-track of skill development. “He’s worked hard and made sure I’ve caught up.”

At his best, Campbell is a high-handed, busy fighter who chips away and looks for openings before dropping the boom. He isn’t a concussive hitter, but when he hurts an opponent her knows exactly what to do.

He isn’t doubtful of his skills, but will happily go for the knockout if he believes it is on, which makes for a crowd-pleasing style.

He’s happy at super-middleweight, too, having started at light-heavyweight before dropping three kilos. He feels stronger, faster and better for the move.

Friday will present the perfect gauge of where he’s at in his career. Those who say it’s too much too soon might have a case. But for those who believe he is ready, the answer could soon be writ neon bright.