Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 | 10:26 p.m.
The first time Beibut Shumenov (9-1, 6 KO) fought Gabriel Campillo (19-3, 6 KO), Aug. 15 in Astana, Kazakhstan, Campillo came away with a majority decision clouded in controversy.
Their rematch Friday night at The Joint at The Hard Rock may prove to be even more controversial.
Shumenov, who lives and trains in Las Vegas, earned a split decision win to become the new WBA light heavyweight champion, much to the shock of many who watched the fight. Judges scored the bout 117-111 for Campillo, and 117-111, 115-113 in favor of Shumenov.
Although he appeared surprised when the decision was announced, Shumenov later said he agreed with the judges.
"I agree with the decision. I thought I won the fight," he said. "I feel great. I won this for my fans, family and friends. I'm so proud that I could win it for them."
Shumenov took control of the fight early, including a big right hook in the third round that opened a cut over Campillo's left eye. Campillo kept coming though, nearly putting Shumenov down multiple times in the later rounds.
Campillo opened up a wide cut on the right side of Shumenov’s nose in the ninth round and it looked like referee Jay Nady was moments from stepping in. Shumenov showed lots of heart, though, motioning Campillo to keep coming even though it was clear he had been stunned by the exchange.
As the final bell rang, it was clear both fighters believed Campillo had won. Campillo raised his arms in victory while Shumenov slumped in his corner. Campillo accepted the decision well, smiling and shrugging his shoulders while his corner stood stunned behind him.
It was the first test for Shumenov to measure the progress he’s made with new head trainer Kevin Barry. The pair began working together in November.
"Kevin Barry was the difference in this fight," said Shumerov, who went to the hospital to receive stitches on his nose following the fight. "He's the best trainer in the world. He gave me direction and showed me what I had to do to win a title."
Barry served as trainer and manager to heavyweight contender David Tua from 1992 to 2003.
It was also the first Las Vegas fight in Shumenov’s young professional boxing career. He enjoyed a successful amateur career, representing his home country of Kazakhstan in the 2004 Olympics.