IBF/WBO Heavyweight Title Fight: Wladimir Klitschko vs Eddie Chambers
American ‘Fast’ Eddie Chambers will challenge WBO & IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko tonight in Dusseldorf, Germany. The Ukrainian giant will be making the eighth defense of his IBF title won against Chris Byrd in 2006, and the fourth defense of the WBO title he won in a unification fight against Sultan Ibragimov in 2008. Fighting in his adopted homeland of Germany, the champion starts as a strong favourite to retain his titles.
For the American Chambers, this fight represents a serious step up in class and his first chance to fight for a world title. A glance at the record of Chambers shows that he is not completely unprepared for his big opportunity. Although never competing against an opponent as accomplished as the reigning champion, he has defeated a number or worthy heavyweight contenders including the dangerous African puncher Samuel Peter last March. He also tallied wins against respected fighters such as Calvin Brock, Dominick Guinn and, in his last fight in July 2009, Alexander Dimitrenko.
The sole defeat on the American’s record may well tell us more about the challenger’s chances of success tonight than all of his victories though. In January 2008 Chambers battled the still-undefeated and highly ranked heavyweight contender Alexander Povetkin; losing a wide unanimous decision. It was a fight in which Chambers displayed some fine skills and at times looked a class above his opponent, his flashy bursts of combination punching and educated jabs demonstrating the worth of his nickname ‘Fast’.
Unfortunately for Chambers, these flashy outbursts were too few and far between, and it was his seemingly fragile mental armoury which in the end determined the fights outcome. His opponent that night appeared much the slower and less skilled operator, but won the fight with his dogged determination and consistent attack. It was almost as if the American didn’t believe in his own ability to take control of the fight, and consequently it became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Had the American believed in himself, let is hands go and tried to bully-back the Russian, it’s likely he could still be an undefeated fighter.
Such mental fragility does not bode well going into a heavyweight championship fight; however his saving grace may be that the champion has himself at times seemed consumed by the exact same demons. Even when possessing massive advantages in height, weight and reach, as well as a fantastic left jab and pole-axing right hand, the champion Klitschko rarely takes anything resembling a chance in the ring. His safety first approach has earned much derision in the press, leading to dominating and clinical yet almost embarrassingly boring world title fights. It seems Klitschko – despite his many strengths as a boxer – continues to fight ‘scared’ after being exposed as having something of a green-house jawline in previous fights.
Although the champion has been stopped on three previous occasions, as well as being sparked out in two rounds by the unheralded Corrie Sanders back in 2003, don’t expect to see a repeat of that here. It will likely take an aggressive, hard hitting fighter in the manner of Englishman David Haye to test ‘Dr Steel Hammer’s’ jaw in the same way again. Expect a technical, slow fight, with Chambers showing his speed and skills for limited periods, but for the bigger, stronger Klitschko to largely dominate from the outside with his long left jab and powerful right hand. If Klitschko decides to open up with some combinations and really attempt to bully the challenger and force a stoppage, no doubt it could happen somewhere around the middle rounds.
Personally I doubt the champions appetite for such an ending though, carrying with it as it does the slight risk of walking into a fast counter shot by the challenger. The American is likely to come pumped and ready for his first title opportunity, and I expect him to show that he is a worthy contender without ever seriously presenting too much danger of winning the fight. The prediction here is that both the Klitschko brothers will still stand astride the heavyweight division at the end of the night as dual champions, with Wladimir doing his part for the family dynasty by winning a wide, unanimous decision victory.