Eddie chambers training for Klitschko
By Jason Pribila: If the World’s #1 heavyweight falls in Dusseldorf, and American fight fans don’t see it, will they care?
That is the question that top American heavyweight, “Fast” Eddie Chambers hopes to ask following his encounter with lineal heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday. The problem is that only those who choose to pay $14.95 to view the bout via on-line stream at www.klitschko.com will be prepared to answer.
Chambers (35-1, 18 KO) will be a prohibitive underdog to unseat Klitschko (53-3, 47 KOs), who enters the ring in front of a partisan crowd, in the midst of an 11 fight win streak that has spanned nearly 6 years. During that time only two of his foes have heard the final bell, while only four have clearly won a round.
While Chambers ring credentials warrant his title shot, odds makers will look at his physical disadvantages: 5 inches in height, 6 inches in reach, and 30+ lbs. on the scale, as to why he will come up…well...short. Factor in that Chambers does not possess the one-punch power that many feel necessary to unsettle Klitschko, and it would seem to become clear as to why this fight will not be available on American airwaves.
On paper, this would seem like a fight where no one gives the challenger a shot except his inner circle. That is until you hear Eddie Chambers speak about how he plans to take advantage of the opportunity he has in front of him.
“I’m just excited to fight one of the best heavyweights of my time”, Chambers said during a Tuesday conference call. “This (title fight) is the culmination of all the hard work through the years.”
The one thing that Chambers has going for him is that he will be familiar with fighting in Germany. This will be the third time that he will be fighting in front of a German audience since 2008. His first trip resulted in his only loss as a professional. A winnable fight that fell apart when he stopped throwing punches down the stretch against Alexander Povetkin.
When he returned to Germany on July 4, 2009 (on his Nation’s Independence Day), Chambers put forth a career best performance in the WBO-eliminator against Alexander Dimitrenko (29-0, 19 KOs). With that victory Chambers not only exorcized the Povetkin demons, but also got the chance to face a guy who possessed similar dimensions as Klitschko.
“The first time I wasn’t prepared mentally,” Chambers admitted. “I was still kind of a kid. I wasn’t ready for it.”
“The second time I was relaxed,” Chambers continued. “I enjoyed my experience. I didn’t want to leave.”
In between trips to Germany, Chambers scored a win over Samuel Peter in a bout that was televised nationally on ESPN. While the “Nigerian Nightmare” remains the biggest name on Chambers resume, it was a fight and performance that left him and his team feeling a bit unsatisfied. On that evening Chambers weighed in at a career high of 223 lbs. He still had speed to spare against the 265 lb. Peter, but the overall performance caused his veteran trainer, Rob Murray Sr. to realize that in order for Chambers to move forward he had to look back at the great heavyweights of yesterday.
“Against Sam Peter he came back (to the corner). He wasn’t breathing heavy or anything, but I saw something there and told him that coming in at 223 won’t cut it. We got on the right diets and brought the weight down. This fight we’ll be 207, 208.”
Murray then reminded those on the call of all the great heavyweights that are enshrined in the Hall of Fame who were smaller guys fighting between 200 and 220 lbs.: Dempsey, Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, and a young Ali, to name a few.
While the Klitschko brothers are far from the first titlists to weigh in as mythical “super-heavyweights”, few of history’s big men could boast that they plied their trade with the athleticism, balance, and discipline to fight tall that the Klitschkos’ possess. Still that does not deter Team Chambers, and they have the Dimitrenko feather in their caps to prove that they could beat a bigger man.
“(Dimitrenko) was the best opponent to get prepared to fight the best heavyweight in the world”, Chambers said. “His style prepared me and gave me the confidence that I could get in there with anyone.”
Chambers also draws confidence from watching where previous Klitschko opponents have failed.
“You got to fight your fight. Most people try to adjust to their (opponent’s) style. If you take a few to get inside, you may not make it there. I’m a boxer by nature. I have to implement that into my plan to beat Klitschko. I’m going to do everything to make him miss and then make him pay.”
“Head movement,” Chambers continued. “If you look at Chris Byrd and Sultan Ibragimov, who were smaller, they didn’t do anything on the outside. They didn’t use their legs much. They didn’t give him different looks. They didn’t feint him. I’m going to bring something he hasn’t seen or had to deal with….ever.”
“It’s a chess game, it’s not checkers. Or it could be check mate…and I don’t want that,” Chambers concluded.
What was different about Chambers words and tone, as opposed to most media calls, is that they were not spoken with bravado for self motivation, or to get in his opponent’s head. They were said with a calm confidence that made it clear that he had put his time in and was fully committed to the work that has been done. He has already seen himself as the victor, and the actual fight will only make it official.
Chambers words did seem to motivate his trainer, who added his own sound byte, “Our plan is not to get inside, our plan is to win. And we will win…Handily! There will be no doubt! You’ll just have to watch the tape.”
One may have thought that the fact that this fight is not even available on television in Philadelphia, a city that built a statue for a fictional heavyweight underdog Rocky Balboa, would leave Chambers with a chip on his shoulder. Chambers instead chose to be thankful for his God-given gifts and the doors that they have opened for him.
“This is not work. We (boxers) make our own hours, and to be the best you put in more (hours). A lot of people pay good money to watch me fight.” Chambers went on to say that fighting in front of 50,000 people, “It’s a humbling experience. Whether they are there to see me win or lose.”
Chambers demeanor may have also rubbed off on his promoter Dan Goosen, who refrained from blasting short-sighted networks.
“I’m not upset, because it’s all about proving yourself and taking the reins from there. Eddie wants to show that he’s capable of becoming the next heavyweight champion. The fans and quite frankly the networks want to see the days of Mike Tyson, Joe Frazier, and Muhammad Ali.
Goosen continued, “This isn’t about an 8-week training camp. This is 3 years in the making. It all came together with the Dimentrenko fight. He now has great offensive as well as defensive abilities in the ring. That will change the heavyweight division. You could see the personality he’s got. It will all come together on Saturday.”
Whether Chambers will be victorious on Saturday remains to be seen. What is not up for debate is that Eddie Chambers is not only a breath of fresh air for the heavyweight division, but for boxing as a whole. Chambers is a fighter that refused to settle for being good, but rather dared to be great. He is a man that recognizes that it is a privilege and not a birthright to have a vocation that inspires people to pay to watch him perform.
If the powers-that-be want Americans to care about the heavyweight division again, they should ensure that fighters like Eddie Chambers are never far from the focus of their camera lenses.
March 18, 2010