By Philip H. Anselmo
When David Haye dropped out of his scheduled mega-fights with IBF/IBO/WBO/Ring Magazine heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko, then older brother, WBC champ Vitali to fight WBA belt holder Nicolay Valuev, he left the top rated brothers to opt for mandatory defenses. (That’s a shit load of alphabet jambalaya!)
Wlad is now working towards a fight with talented, WBO #1 contender Eddie Chambers, while Vitali looks to defend his belt against undefeated Cristobal Arreola. Arreola (27-0, 24 KO’s) is considered the USA’s biggest hope to claim a title belt and is well known amongst American fight fans because of his careful matchmaking and visibility thanks to HBO. Chambers isn’t so fortunate.
The last three times Chambers was seen on US TV he was a chubby, ponderous kid with good hand speed, minus dangerous punching power and the killer instinct that comes with it. He beat up a gun-shy Calvin Brock via SD12 on Showtime, lost UD12 to Alexander Povetkin in his only appearance on HBO, and walked away with a MD10 when he fought an overweight Sam Peter
(f. WBC) on ESPN2. The loss to Povetkin without question is a glaring one on a semi-elite level, and the fact that Peter was in grotesque shape certainly tarnished the victory for Eddie, leaving fans feeling indifferent about him.
But Eddie’s biggest win to date came in his last fight, winning a one-sided 12 round decision over previously undefeated ‘6-7” Alexander Dimitrenko in Germany. Chambers got himself into the best shape of his career, weighing 208 lbs and dropped the huge, capable Dimitrenko twice. Chambers looked slick and threw meaningful combinations in bursts. He looked overall like a confident, rejuvenated fighter with a tight defense. The problem is, the fight wasn’t aired in the US.
Too bad for American fight fans.
In all reality, Chambers has fought the tougher opposition than the much more ballyhooed Arreola. But public perception is that Arreola’s the more dangerous guy, therefore, a bigger fight. HBO will air the fight, solely because they’ve made Arreola a visible commodity.
If the handlers for “Chris” believe their man is ready and deserving to face Vitali after stopping an extremely limited crew of contenders consisting of Chazz Witherspoon, Israel “King Kong” Garcia, Travis Walker and used-up punching bag Jameel McCline, there could be an abrupt, career ruining halt to Arreola’s run.
Honestly, this type of challenge seems premature for Chris. He’s got tremendous punching power and fair skills, but he’s been grossly overweight of late and his fights have been early round KO’s. How will his stamina hold up against a boxer who’ll take him into the later rounds?
The fact is, the number of viewers will add up just fine for HBO who are currently starved for new blood, especially in the heavyweights. However, their rotund showcase attraction stops here. Vitali will prove to be too much, too soon.
Chris is a face first brawler who is square in front of his opponent. Decent skills aside, Arreola’s brief ring history and blitzkrieg attacks will be his undoing against a man of Vital’s caliber. Klitschko has stood toe-to-toe with the toughest opposition the division has to offer, stopping all but the great Lennox Lewis.
Chambers basically disqualified himself from being a viable attraction on America’s premiere network when he got out-hustled by Povetkin in their forgettable tilt. Which American channel is going to broadcast Wlad Klitschko-Chambers? Who really wants to see Wlad fight Eddie anyway? Besides Haye and Valuev, there’s no other attractive fight out there right now.
Once again, just when it seems Wladimir’s career is heading in the right direction, his big brother has stepped in and landed the more attractive, lucrative and tactically easier fight, as was the case when Vitali came out of retirement to face Sam Peter. In hindsight, that particular fight was Wladimir’s all along; a much-anticipated rematch that would’ve decided a clear-cut champ.
Of course it can be argued that the brothers are simply facing their mandatory challengers cut and dry, and that’s that. But I find it strange how fate is cruelly stabbing Wlad’s career repeatedly in the heart. There are no direct quotes from his trainer Emanuel Steward, but in speaking with him, it’s obvious he’s not happy with the situation.
If it were Wladimir fighting Arreola, not only would the actual heavyweight championship be on the line, the exposure for the actual champion would perhaps clarify things a bit for the hardcore boxing fans that aren’t privy to modern-day technology. The Ring magazine may have declared Wladimir the champ, but the truth of the matter is that tangible magazines are only hitting a small margin of fans.
It should be up to the HBO’s, or even SHOWTIME’S of the world to help clarify the heavyweight division, and to help the dwindling fan base of boxing, instead of repeatedly casting verbal stones at the big men.
There’s an underground rumor that Vitali is planning to retire after maybe one or two more fights. He’s nearly two years short of turning 40-years old. If it’s two more fights, the way the chips are falling, it wouldn’t be surprising if he got the Haye fight next! Why wouldn’t David target a 39-year old, slower Vitali?
For the sake of Wlad’s legacy, the heavyweight division and boxing fans the globe over, let’s hope his retirement plans are true.
There’s one to many Klitschkos ruling the division. One of them has to go, and for my buck, it should be Vitali. The brothers have lived out their “dream” of ruling the heavies, much to the detriment of the division, but enough already. As an avid Klitschko supporter, even I’m sick of having two guys rule the roost that won’t EVER fight one another.
Not that Eddie Chambers isn’t a worthy challenger, but Wladimir ought to have the clout to vacate his alphabet titles and be able to pick and choose his opponents until a worthy challenger emerges. But as of this writing he can’t vacate, and probably wouldn’t anyway. And he doesn’t have the clout to pick and choose, a la Rodney Dangerfield’s lack of respect.
It’s too bad in this case that blood is thicker than water!
Vitali is deleting the prime years of Wladimir’s career by continuing to fight, when in truth, he had nothing left to prove after beating Sam Peter.
This should be Wladimir’s reign—his legacy building years.
But it isn’t.
It’s a dull roar instead of sold out fights in Vegas.
The “brother” novelty has worn off.
Wladimir’s career is on a disturbingly complacent cruise control headed nowhere fast, and if he allows things to continue at this rate, his legacy as the dominant man of this era will evaporate.