Unbeaten welterweight Kevin Bizier will climb into the ring before a hometown crowd at Montreal's Bell Centre on Friday, but not just for an exhibition against a club fighter designed to pad his record and excite the locals. Bizier will step up for perhaps his most difficult test to date: a matchup with dangerous and always-complicated former two-division titlist Nate Campbell in a "Friday Night Fights" main event.
Bizier (19-0-0, 13 KOs) got the call when another local fighter, David Lemieux, fractured his hand and was forced to pull out of his featured bout with Jose Miguel Torres. When the main event was recast, with Bizier set to face Britain's John O'Donnell, another injury -- a broken left hand for O'Donnell -- prompted more shuffling. Enter Campbell (36-9-1, 26 KOs), who even at age 40 could pose a challenge to a talented though relatively green opponent. In March 2012, Campbell stopped fringe contender Victor Cayo, and three months later he traveled to Poland and defeated local pug Krzysztof Szot.
Bizier, 28, says he's excited to face a fighter of Campbell's experience and prestige. "He was a great champion, and I've had to change my entire preparation, make a lot of adjustments, because we had worked to face a 5-foot-11 lefty [O'Donnell] and now we'll be facing a 5-7 right-hander," he said. "But that's not going to stop me from coming out victorious in this fight."
Although Bizier is the favorite, he'll need to take precautions to avoid the curse of Lemieux, who was a big favorite in the same Bell Centre ring two years ago -- only to end up in a hospital. Lemieux, an undefeated and skyrocketing prospect who was on track for a title shot against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., saw his career hit the wall when he was stopped by Marco Antonio Rubio in April 2011.
Despite his lesser experience, Bizier has the tools -- a nasty left hook and fast combinations, for starters -- to carry this fight. But problems surface when he is pressured, and his defense isn't as solid as it needs to be. Campbell will be a good test for Bizier to prove whether he can show improvement in those areas where he's lacking.
The former lightweight champ is a well-known spoiler who in 2008 derailed the career of promising and then-undefeated Juan Diaz. A tough customer with fine stamina, a granite chin, a smart jab and a good sense of pace, Campbell deserves respect.
Whether fans get fireworks or a chess match, a main event featuring the big-stage introduction of a prospect seemingly on his way to bigger challenges and perhaps the last gasp of a skilled former champ who never disappoints his fans should make for high fight drama.