Boxing
Chambers: "I have to go out and smoke this guy"
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Maybe it's the nondescript body type.

Or the non-threatening nickname.

Or perhaps the non-menacing personality.

But whatever the reason for a decided lack of respect when compared to seemingly less-accomplished colleagues in the heavyweight division's upper tier, it's beginning to get on Eddie Chambers' nerves...if only intermittently.

"There's no question, I don't get respect," said the affable 26-year-old Pennsylvanian, just two weeks from a March 27 match with recently deposed WBC champion -- and surely more frighteningly labeled -- Samuel "Nigerian Nightmare" Peter.

"But I don't want to be that guy, saying I get no respect' all the time. I don't care all that much. I like to be the guy sneaking in the shadows and playing the underdog, and, when I get the chance that I have coming up, all I have to do is show that I belong."


Eddie Chambers has just one loss in 34 career bouts.
A pro since 2000 with just one loss in 34 bouts, Chambers is nonetheless noticeably absent from consensus lists of prime challengers to the Klitschko brothers -- who together hold four of the division's five major title belts.

The 6-foot-1 right-hander, born in Pittsburgh and now residing in Philadelphia, stands a full head shorter than either Wladimir or Vitali -- who, at 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7, respectively, have handed Peter two losses in his last eight outings.

Wladimir beat Peter by unanimous decision in September 2005 in Atlantic City, while a 37-year-old Vitali returned from a multi-year injury sabbatical to score a convincing nine-round TKO last October in Berlin in Peter's first title defense.

"Believe me, there have been many days where I've wished I could be just a few inches taller than I am, to be up there with everybody else, especially with my speed and athleticism," Chambers said. "But the fact remains that I'm 6- foot-1 and 215 pounds.

"But all I can do is use my speed and use my legs and use my ability."

Still, when it comes to imminent title shots, "Fast Eddie" comes up short as well.

Vitali will fight ex-cruiserweight champion Juan Carlos Gomez for the WBC title on March 21, while Wladimir is expected to defend against either U.K. heartthrob David Haye or unbeaten American Chris Arreola by the middle of the year.

Chambers, meanwhile, was out-pointed by Alexander Povetkin in an IBF title eliminator in Berlin 13 months ago and has since toiled sans spotlight -- defeating Raphael Butler, Livin Castillo and Cisse Salif in bouts scheduled for 12, 10 and eight rounds.

The Butler fight was at a cruise terminal in the Cayman Islands, while Castillo was the headline opponent at the Blue Horizon club in North Philly and Salif was an undercard tune-up beneath James Toney and Andre Ward in Cabazon, Calif.

His various rankings are across the board -- No. 3 by the IBF, No. 9 by the IBO and No. 23 by the WBC, while being left off the top 15 by both the WBA and WBO in spite of previous wins against one-time title challenger Calvin Brock and ex-prospect Dominick Guinn.

"I do believe I'm the best in the world, but I can't really just come out and say that," he said. "Based on what people have seen and what I've done, it hasn't been enough. But once I get my shot, I'll prove what I can do."

The meeting with Peter -- which will top ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" broadcast -- does represent something of an uptick in recognition, even if it's because Chambers is perceived as high-end fodder for the slugger's expected return to belt contention.

"What'll happen in the ring depends on what he's willing to do in there," Chambers said. "From his last fight, and even his last few, I've seen him better. But he has a big punch and he's a strong guy, and I'm expecting the best fighter he can be that night.

"I've got to be ready for a tough fight. He's going to keep coming and he's a heavy guy and my job is to keep my hands on him. I'll do things to get myself in the door and use him momentum against him. I can't be too lax against a guy with one-shot power."

Chambers' formal prep work for Peter began in mid-January in Philadelphia and has continued for the last week since he headed west to the heart of Southern California, where the fight is set for the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.

He'll spend the next seven or so days refining his in-ring style with continued sparring and pad work, which is supplemented daily by roadwork and other varied cardiovascular activity.

"Anyone would want to fight him, really," Chambers said. "He's a target to hit and he provides an opportunity to look good. I've had a lot of good preparation work and I've worked hard."

Chambers tipped in at 221 pounds for the December fight with Salif -- the heaviest number he's performed at since weighing 224 for a 10-round decision over Louis Monaco in Philadelphia in 2004.

He said he expects to weigh between 215 and 220 against Peter.

"I'm going to use these last two weeks to make sure I continue to be at a high level," he said. "I'm nothing if not well-prepared. And if I come out of there not having done what I wanted to do, it won't be because of the conditioning I've had.

"This is a make or break fight for my career and I've got to take advantage. To get what I want, I have to go out and smoke this guy."

* * * * * * * * * *

This week's title-fight schedule:

FRIDAY

IBF super middleweight title -- Montreal, Quebec Lucian Bute (champion) vs. Fulgencio Zuniga (No. 13 contender)

Bute (23-0, 18 KO): Third title defense; Won all 17 fights (12 KO) in Montreal

Zuniga (22-3-1, 19 KO): Former IBO champion; Lost WBO title fights at 154 and 168

FitzHitz says: Bute by decision

SATURDAY

IBF middleweight title -- Kiel, Germany

Arthur Abraham (champion) vs. Lajuan Simon (No. 11 contender)

Abraham (28-0, 23 KO): Ninth title defense; Six straight wins by stoppage

Simon (21-0-2, 12 KO): Eight-fight win streak; First world title fight

FitzHitz says: Abraham in 10

WBO junior lightweight title -- Manchester, United Kingdom

Nicky Cook (champion) vs. Roman Martinez (No. 1 contender)

Cook (29-1, 16 KO): First title defense; Lost WBO title at 126 in 2007

Martinez (21-0-1, 12 KO): First fight outside of Puerto Rico or U.S.; Won 14 straight

FitzHitz says: Cook by decision

Last week's record: 1-1

Overall picks record: 67-30

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a 20-year veteran of sports journalism, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and "Cold Hard Sports" on the MVN network (coldhardsports.com). Reach him via e-mail at fitzbitz@msn.com.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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