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Wladimir Klitschko Vs Eddie Chambers: HBO Passes on the Heavyweight Championship

By Geno McGahee

This Saturday, the IBO/IBF/WBO Heavyweight Champion of the world, Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko, 53-3, 47 KO’s, defends in Germany against American challenger, Eddie Chambers, 35-1, 18 KO’s.  Klitschko has been featured on HBO’s World Championship Boxing on several occasions against much lesser opposition, but for some reason, they passed on Chambers.

Eddie Chambers has only lost once.  He faced Alexander Povetkin and was winning the fight when he lost interest and lost a decision.  At 6 feet, 1 inch, he is a small heavyweight by today’s standards and often came into bouts looking soft at 220 pounds, but things have changed. 

In his last bout, he battered down the much larger Alexander Dimitrenko en route to a majority decision, which should have been unanimous.  For that fight, he weighed 208 pounds and came in with a mission and performed better than ever.  That was Chambers at his best.

When he is not in shape, he still wins. He defeated former WBC Champion, Sam Peter, former title challenger, Calvin Brock, Dominick Guinn, and fringe contender Derric Rossy.  Chambers is a smart fighter that will use movement and speed to try to frustrate and eventually beat Klitschko.  It’s a tall order, literally, and he is the heavy underdog going into Saturday’s showdown, but he is a much bigger of a threat than the long line of opponents that Wlad has feasted on in recent years.

Wlad has been champion since 2006, when he stopped Chris Byrd for the IBF and IBO Titles.  He has picked up the WBO Title in 2008 with a decision win over Sultan Ibragimov.  His record since he initially lost the WBO Title to Lamon Brewster in 2004 is 10-0, 8 KO’s, and he has beaten some very good opposition, including Brewster in a rematch.

The biggest issue with Wlad is how he fights in the ring.  When George Foreman was the heavyweight champion (the first time), he went in there and fought like a big man, squashing the opposition.  Wlad is a tactical and safety first fighter, using his jab and clinching to keep the opponent in check.  It’s rarely pretty, but typically ends in a stoppage win.  Lennox Lewis created the blueprint for the big man to rule the division without getting scratched and Wlad and Vitali follow it.

The ugly style has led to victories over Tony Thompson, 2-Time Heavyweight Champion Hasim Rahman, Calvin Brock, Ray Austin, former WBA Champ Ruslan Chagaev, former WBO Champ Sultan Ibragimov, and former WBC Champ Samuel Peter.  You cannot argue with success and Wlad has to be commended for being a fighting champion, averaging 2 to 3 fights a year.  He did, however, only step into the ring on one occasion in 2009, the battering of Chagaev, and might be rusty coming into the Chambers defense.

HBO has passed on this bout.  There is an interest in Wladimir Klitschko, but it has not translated over to the United States and perhaps the return on other Wlad outings with similar unknown opposition may have soured the company to any future investments, but this is the heavyweight championship of the world!  Mike Tyson could be fighting anybody.  They could yank a fat sportswriter out of press row and throw him into the ring with Iron Mike and HBO would run with it because the fans demanded it here in the states, and around the world where Tyson was concerned.  You can ask the average person who the heavyweight champion is and they will probably come up with Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, or another notable from the past.  The Klitschko brothers, Nikolay Valuev, David Haye, John Ruiz, Sultan Ibragimov…none of them were able to bring the American fans in and now with the network not covering the Chambers defense, you have to imagine that it is not going to get better.

What boxing is waiting for, especially the American public, is the next big thing in the heavyweight division.  Some have placed stock in WBA Kingpin, David “Hayemaker” Haye, a devastating puncher at cruiserweight with a suspect chin…especially suspect at heavyweight.  He has a defense coming up against former 2-Time Champ, John Ruiz, and he has to impress.  In his title win against “Russian Giant” Nikolay Valuev, Haye didn’t do much outside of moving and Valuev, who arguably benefited from some gift decisions, was seen as the winner by a great deal of press, but Haye walked out with the title.  Haye needs to do something dramatic…stop John Ruiz.  Ruiz was starched inside of a round by David Tua, but since then, he has shown his true grit and puzzling style.  He will not be stopped easily.  If Haye does it, maybe he will be the next big thing in the division, but it seems unlikely at this point.

There is no obvious superstar coming out of the 200+ division.  Chambers is merely a good fighter with a lot of heart and a great deal of ambition, and he will give everything he has to try to win the title come Saturday, which should be enough for the network to bite. 

Saturday, the most likely scenario is a decision win or late stoppage win for Wladimir.  He’s so much bigger, standing over 6 feet, 6 inches, and doesn’t allow the smaller men inside his range if he can help it.  Chambers is not an inside fighter and will try to outthink the champion from the outside, which doesn’t appear to be a formula for success.  Nevertheless, this is a fight that the American public should have been allowed to see.  This is the heavyweight championship and for it to be ignored by the network that claims ownership of the Klitschko brothers is ridiculous. 

It’s all that much more absurd when you look at all of the Chris Arreola fights that they have accepted.  I would argue that Klitschko-Chambers is a far more attractive match than Arreola-Brian Minto.

I, like most boxing fans, will be eager to see the outcome of this fight and perhaps we will be treated to a surprise to rattle the division and breathe some life into it.

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