Luis Ramon “Yory Boy” Campas has been a professional boxer since the age of 15, beginning his career in his native Mexico.
He compiled a 37-0 record before his first fight outside of his homeland. All told, the boxing legend has fought to a career record of 101 wins, 17 losses and three draws. The boxing record site BoxRec credits Campos with 79 knockouts, however, his manager and trainer for the past 11 years, Joe Diaz, says he actually has 81 total knockouts with two of his earlier victories not documented correctly.
The 42-year-old Campas is set to fight in Belgrade in the main event of a card April 5 at the Silver Spur Arena and Event Center with the first bell at 7:30 p.m. He’s to face 35-year-old Mikhail Lyubarsky (3-15-0), who was born in the Ukraine but resides in California, in a eight-round middleweight (155-164 pounds) bout.
“He is a tough kid and has the youth,” Campas, who doesn’t speak English, said as Diaz translated for him. “We are training hard and he (Lyubarsky) has fought some good opponents he has lost to, so we have to be careful.”
The 74-year-old Diaz, who said he has converted a barn into a top-notch boxing gym in Three Forks where youths from Belgrade, Bozeman, Helena and Butte work out, said Campas came to Montana to train on Dec. 18, 2013 with this bout in mind although the opponent was yet to be determined.
In the Treasure State they are working with Belgrade’s Hollis Huggins, who is promoting the April fight. The goal for the Campas camp is one more big fight. Amongst the names Campas has tangled with over the years are Hector Camacho (draw), Oscar De La Hoya (loss), Fernando Vargas (loss) and Felix Trinidad (loss). On Dec. 6, 1997, Campas won by TKO as a 7-5 underdog in Atlantic City, N.J., in the eighth round over then 28-0 and defending IBF junior middleweight champion Raul Marquez to win his first title. At the time, Campas had two previous unsuccessful title shots. Now, Campas would like to settle old scores.
“The idea was to come here, put on a fight and if everything goes right we want to offer a challenge to a big fight to the old-timers like (Bernard) Hopkins, or if De La Hoya comes out of retirement, or Trinidad, or Vargas, and give them that shot,” Diaz said.
Campas said he enjoys the people of Montana and likes the vast farmland and working ranches here. His goal April 5 is to “show the world he has a lot left for a few more fights,” he said.
According to Diaz, Campas was offered a bout in Russia, where he’d make substantially more money than in Montana. However, a deal is a deal, Diaz said and they honored their agreement with Huggins. And what if he doesn’t get that last big fight? How many more bouts will Campas take?
“This year, this fight and one more I’d like to retire for real,” Campas said.
Diaz said Campas has been married for 21 years to Mabel and the couple has twin 14-year-old boys and a 19-year-old boy in college. When this fight is over, he’ll return to Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico and come back to the United States if another boxing opportunity arises.
When his boxing career finally comes to a close, Campas would like to mentor young boxers in Mexico. Diaz said Campas lives an honest life and would make a good coach.
“I’d like to return to the boxing business and train kids,” Campas said. “There is a municipal center in my hometown and because of my age and the shape I’m in, I can offer the experience of living clean.”
Huggins is excited to have Campas on his card. There are 12 fights scheduled, with six being professional and five semi-pro/amateur. One amateur mixed martial arts fight will be contested.
“I’m looking forward to having Yory Boy and Joe Diaz and what they bring to boxing, and share it in Montana,” Huggins said. “I’m privileged to have it in Montana. Some of the younger fighters on the undercard, a lot of them are debut fighters. To fight your first fight on this card (is neat).”
Last Thursday when Campas was in Billings at The Grindhouse gym to work out, he sparred with local talented boxers. One of the boxers he sparred with was Billings’ Daniel Gonzalez (9-30-2).
“It was an honor, definitely,” the 35-year-old Gonzalez said. “It was everything for me to spar with that gentleman. He’s world-class. ... I banged it out for five rounds with him.”
Gonzalez has a six-round bout lined up on the undercard against Kalispell’s Jesse Uhde (3-4-0) at junior middleweight (147-154 pounds). They will be fighting for the newly-created Montana State junior middleweight title.
“For the win and enjoyment of boxing,” said Gonzalez, who works at the coal mine near Roundup, of why he is boxing Uhde. “I’m not in it for the money. I took this fight and could of had one in El Paso. My children will be here (at the fight in Belgrade).”