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Eddie Chambers Hoping To Re-Establish Himself

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Scan the ratings of the four major sanctioning organizations and you won’t find the name of “Fast” Eddie Chambers among the top 15 ranked heavyweight contenders in any of them. It’s like the ratings committees of the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO have all conveniently forgotten that the IBF’s former No. 1 contender, who came within a few seconds of going the distance with WBA/IBF/WBO champion Wladimir Klitschko a little more than two years ago, has fallen off the face of the earth.

It can be argued that the smallish Pittsburgh-born, Philadelphia-based fighter’s absence from the rankings owes more to injuries and inactivity than to a steep dropoff in performance. Oh, sure, Chambers was losing big on the scorecards when the younger of boxing’s dominant Klitschko brothers took him out with a crushing shot only five seconds before the final bell of their March 20, 2010, title bout in Dusseldorf, Germany, but Wladimir and older sibling Vitali, the WBC heavyweight champ, have sent any number of opponents to lullaby land during a shared reign that has continued nearly unabated since Lennox Lewis retired in 2003.

Several of the Klitschkos’ victims still carry world rankings from one or more of the sanctioning bodies, so the logical conclusion can only be that Chambers – who is still held in high regard by Emanuel Steward, Wladimir’s Hall of Fame trainer – is unranked solely because he has fought just once since being stopped by Wlad, that being a one-sided, unanimous decision over Derric Rossy on Feb. 11, 2011.

“Eddie is small, but his speed and balance are unbelievable,” Steward said last October, days before another cancellation of a Chambers fight due to injury. “The one time I had Evander Holyfield for his three fights with Riddick Bowe, he won by getting in and getting out, instead of trying to take Bowe head-on. I see a lot of those qualities in Eddie.”

Are those qualities still present in someone who has had only one fight in 27 months? Is Chambers, at 30, now to be considered damaged goods and on the downhill side of a career that never quite reached elite status? Is he capable of returning to a level of prominence as swiftly as he fell from it?

Those and other questions will be answered on Saturday night, when Chambers (36-2, 18 KOs) takes on Tomasz Adamek (45-2, 28 KOs) in a scheduled 12-rounder to be televised by the NBC Sports Network from the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Adamek, the former IBF cruiserweight and WBC light heavyweight champion, is ranked No. 7 among heavyweights by the IBF and No. 8 by the WBC, but the 35-year-old Pole shares at least some of the stigmas that have attached themselves to Chambers. He’s five years older than Chambers, also has a blowout loss to a Klitschko (Vitali stopped him in 10 rounds on Sept. 10, 2011) and is unranked by the WBA and WBO, which probably consider him to have been too inactive to merit a rating. Since losing to Vitai, Adamek has fought just once, a 10-round decision over Nagy Aguilera on March 24 at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, N.Y.

And although on paper this matchup would appear to be fairly even – at 6-1 and 210 or so pounds, Chambers can look straight into the eyes of the 6-1½, 215-pound Adamek, with neither having to crane their heads upward at the much taller Klitschkos – there are reasons why the oddsmakers have pegged Adamek as nearly a 2-1 favorite. Adamek has a large and very vocal following in the Prudential Center, where where he will be fighting for the eighth time, and he isn’t coming off a series of physical ailments that forced the cancellation of Chambers’ scheduled bouts with Tony Thompson on Oct. 28 and Sergei Liakhovich on Jan. 21 due to, respectively, recurring back spasms and two fractured ribs incurred in training.

And if all that weren’t enough, Fast Eddie must deal with the June 3 death of his longtime manager and former trainer, Rob Murray Sr., who was 67 when he succumbed to a bout with cancer. It was Murray who was tipped off about Chambers, then 9-0 with five KOs, fighting mostly in and around his native Pittsburgh. Murray brought the young fighter to Philadelphia in 2002 for the purpose of further developing his boxing skills. Chambers made the first of his 17 appearances at Philly’s famed Blue Horizon on May 24 of that year, scoring a six-round decision over David Chappell.

Chambers described Murray as “very caring. He was somebody who was always there for you. He had the best sense of humor. He had a great spirit and was always very positive.”

Perhaps because of his own failing health issues, or maybe because he felt a new voice in the corner was needed, Murray relinquished his training duties after Chambers defeated Rossy almost as convincingly as he had in their initial meeting in 2007. Murray brought in James Bashir, a longtime associate of Emanuel Steward, to serve Chambers’ chief second.

Bashir and Chambers have worked together in the gym for nearly a year, but because the Thompson and Liakhovich bouts fell through, the scrap against Adamek marks the first time they will be together on fight night. Chambers said he is looking forward to showing off all he has learned under his not-quite new trainer.

“He’s worked a long time beside Emanuel,” Chambers said of Bashir. “I’ve had the pleasure of being around both of them, and they both know their stuff.

“My father (Eddie Chambers Sr.) was a great trainer and so was Rob. Bashir is adding to the foundation they gave me. He knows how to plan a fight. People think you just go in there and fight. No. You work on a strategy, and then you try to execute it.

“James Bashir is one of the best-kept secrets in boxing.”

The more pressing question is whether Chambers, for so long out of sight and thus out of mind, is ready to re-announce his return as a major factor in the heavyweight division, non-Klitschko category. He has scored victories over the likes of Alexander Dimitrenko, Samuel Peter, Livin Castillo, Calvin Brock and Dominick Guinn. It wouldn’t be the biggest upset in the world if he were to go into Adamek territory and come away with a victory.

“Every fight is a must-win, but in my case people are questioning whether I have anything left,” Chambers said, candidly. “I’m only 30. People come up to me and say, `Are you still active? Have you retired?’ Hey, I had two fights scheduled, but they got scratched because of injuries. Doesn’t mean I’m not around anymore.

“You have to have the attitude that if you keep pushing, eventually something good will happen. This fight could be my express train right back to the top. It could put me back in the conversation as the best American hope in the heavyweight division.”

Eddie Chambers Hoping To Re-Establish Himself / Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.

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2015 Fight of the Year – Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura

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The WBC World Super Featherweight title bout between Francisco Vargas and Takashi Miura came on one of the biggest boxing stages of 2015, as the bout served as the HBO pay-per-view’s co-main event on November 21st, in support of Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez.

Miura entered the fight with a (29-2-2) record and he was making the fifth defense of his world title, while Vargas entered the fight with an undefeated mark of (22-0-1) in what was his first world title fight. Both men had a reputation for all-out fighting, with Miura especially earning high praise for his title defense in Mexico where he defeated Sergio Thompson in a fiercely contested battle.

The fight started out hotly contested, and the intensity never let up. Vargas seemed to win the first two rounds, but by the fourth round, Miura seemed to pull ahead, scoring a knock-down and fighting with a lot of confidence. After brawling the first four rounds, Miura appeared to settle into a more technical approach. Rounds 5 and 6 saw the pendulum swing back towards Vargas, as he withstood Miura’s rush to open the fifth round and the sixth round saw both men exchanging hard punches.

The big swinging continued, and though Vargas likely edged Miura in rounds 5 and 6, Vargas’ face was cut in at least two spots and Miura started to assert himself again in rounds 7 and 8. Miura was beginning to grow in confidence while it appeared that Vargas was beginning to slow down, and Miura appeared to hurt Vargas at the end of the 8th round.

Vargas turned the tide again at the start of the ninth round, scoring a knock down with an uppercut and a straight right hand that took Miura’s legs and sent him to the canvas. Purely on instinct, Miura got back up and continued to fight, but Vargas was landing frequently and with force. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in to stop the fight at the halfway point of round 9 as Miura was sustaining a barrage of punches.

Miura still had a minute and a half to survive if he was going to get out of the round, and it was clear that he was not going to stop fighting.

A back and forth battle of wills between two world championship level fighters, Takashi Miura versus “El Bandido” Vargas wins the 2015 Fight of the Year.

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Jan 9 in Germany – Feigenbutz and De Carolis To Settle Score

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This coming Saturday, January 9th, the stage is set at the Baden Arena in Offenburg, Germany for a re-match between Vincent Feigenbutz and Giovanni De Carolis. The highly anticipated re-match is set to air on SAT.1 in Germany, and Feigenbutz will once again be defending his GBU and interim WBA World titles at Super Middleweight.

The first meeting between the two was less than three months ago, on October 17th and that meeting saw Feigenbutz controversially edge De Carolis on the judge’s cards by scores of (115-113, 114-113 and 115-113). De Carolis scored a flash knock down in the opening round, and he appeared to outbox Feigenbutz in the early going, but the 20 year old German champion came on in the later rounds.

The first bout is described as one of the most crowd-pleasing bouts of the year in Germany, and De Carolis and many observers felt that the Italian had done enough to win.

De Carolis told German language website RAN.DE that he was more prepared for the re-match, and that due to the arrogance Feigenbutz displayed in the aftermath of the first fight, he was confident that he had won over some of the audience. Though De Carolis fell short of predicting victory, he promised a re-vamped strategy tailored to what he has learned about Feigenbutz, whom he termed immature and inexperienced.

The stage is set for Feigenbutz vs De Carolis 2, this Saturday January 9th in Offenburg, Germany. If you can get to the live event do it, if not you have SAT.1 in Germany airing the fights, and The Boxing Channel right back here for full results.

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2015 Knock Out of the Year – Saul Alvarez KO’s James Kirkland

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On May 9th of 2015, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez delivered a resonant knock-out of James Kirkland on HBO that wins the 2015 KO of the Year.

The knock-out itself came in the third round, after slightly more than two minutes of action. The end came when Alvarez delivered a single, big right hand that caught Kirkland on the jaw and left him flat on his back after spinning to the canvas.Alvarez was clearly the big star heading into the fight. The fight was telecast by HBO for free just one week after the controversial and disappointing Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao fight, and Alvarez was under pressure to deliver the type of finish that people were going to talk about. Kirkland was happy to oblige Alvarez, taking it right to Alvarez from the start. Kirkland’s aggression saw him appear to land blows that troubled the young Mexican in the early going. Alvarez played good defense, and he floored Kirkland in the first round, displaying his power and his technique in knocking down an aggressive opponent.

However, Kirkland kept coming at Alvarez and the fight entered the third round with both men working hard and the feeling that the fight would not go the distance. Kirkland continued to move forward, keeping “Canelo” against the ropes and scoring points with a barrage of punches while looking for an opening.

At around the two minute mark, Alvarez landed an uppercut that sent Kirkland to the canvas again. Kirkland got up, but it was clear that he did not have his legs under him. Kirkland was going to try to survive the round, but Alvarez had an opportunity to close out the fight. The question was would he take it?

Alvarez closed in on Kirkland, putting his opponent’s back to the ropes. Kirkland was hurt, but he was still dangerous, pawing with punches and loading up for one big shot.

But it was the big shot “Canelo” threw that ended the night. Kirkland never saw it coming, as he was loading up with a huge right hand of his own. The right Alvarez threw cracked Kirkland in the jaw, and his eyes went blank. His big right hand whizzed harmlessly over the head of a ducking Alvarez, providing the momentum for the spin that left Kirkland prone on the canvas.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez went on to defeat Miguel Cotto in his second fight of 2015 and he is clearly one of boxing’s biggest stars heading into 2016. On May 9th Alvarez added another reel to his highlight film when he knocked out James Kirkland with the 2015 “Knock Out of the Year”.

Photo by naoki fukuda

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