By Johnny Walker
Top American heavyweight contender “Fast” Eddie Chambers is a very nice guy, but he’s feeling a little testy these days, and who can blame him? The talented heavyweight has taken on some of the biggest challenges in the division, beaten fighters like ex-WBC champion Samuel Peter and 6’7” Ukrainian giant Sascha Dimitrenko, but a loss to champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2010 left many cynical American fight fans, already embittered by a long period of non-US domination of the division, writing him off.
On top of this, Chambers (36-2-0, 18 KOs) has had to deal with the fallout from a fight with his good friend, Tony Thompson, that had been scheduled for Atlantic City at the end of October, falling through due to a back injury to Fast Eddie. Thompson himself was angered by the cancellation, and took to social media channels to let Chambers know it.
But Eddie Chambers has heard enough of the criticism and the carping. He’s tired of being the nice guy who gets stepped on by the nastier types in the boxing world, and in Part One of our interview, he fires back at boxing “fans” who questioned him over the Thompson non-fight, and at a boxing establishment in the United States that has seemingly abandoned American heavyweights.
BOXING INSIDER: Tony Thompson responded angrily on your Facebook page to the recent cancellation of your fight. Have you guys settled that now?
EDDIE CHAMBERS: The thing is between me and him, we’re friends. He was just saying, if you were having issues with how you were feeling, just tell me and let me know so I can prepare accordingly. But the thing is, I was doing what I could, to make sure that I was going to be able to perform. And then I didn’t want to tell him something, and he knows I have a problem and he can use that towards his favor. Anybody at this level looks for any edge over an opponent, even if you are friends, it doesn’t matter. Once you step in that ring, the guy becomes your arch-rival, you know what I’m saying? But it is what it is, we discussed it and it’s all behind us.
BOXING INSIDER: I think after the Andre Ward – Andre Dirrell fight was cancelled for what looked like phony reasons, some people thought with you and Thompson, “Oh well, here’s two more good buddies who don’t want to fight each other.”
EDDIE CHAMBERS: Me and Tony are good friends, you know what I mean? We have great respect for each other, we help each other, we actually have been to each other’s homes. But, we are fighters, who won’t make an excuse or pull out of a situation just because of the other guy. We’re good friends, but at the same time we’re fierce competitors. We always want to be able to be better than the other guy, no matter who that other guy is. Ward and Dirrell are both good guys. I don’t look at anybody and say “Oh, I’m going to question another athlete’s injury”; I don’t do that, because I know how hard it is to get out there every day. One thing is for sure, no matter what, if a guy’s going in there fighting, nine times out of ten he has an injury. Once you get in that ring after a certain amount of time, you’re never at 100 percent. So, you can try to get to 100 percent, but you end up being 80, 85, 90 at the highest, you know what I’m saying?
BOXING INSIDER: Even in tennis, when you hear someone like Rafael Nadal interviewed, he always says he’s got some kind of injury, he’s never 100 percent. And that’s tennis: those guys aren’t getting hit in the face for a living.
EDDIE CHAMBERS: Exactly, exactly, we’re taking physical trauma. And I’m a big tennis fan. I watched Sampras, Agassi, all those guys. Look at the effort those guys put in, the change of directions and stretching and swinging and all that, it takes a lot of effort, and then imagine taking punches as well. So people questioning my injury, that’s why I posted it on Facebook, because people say, “He’s ain’t really hurt, he’s scared.”
Woah. I’m scared? Look at my record. First of all, I’m gonna put this out there right now: who do you know who would fight Samuel Peter for under $100,000? That’s right after he had the title, after he lost to Vitali. Not only that, not a hundred, for eighty [thousand]? No, not eighty, sixty. No, that’s not [low] enough, what about forty? How about twenty? Come on man, I went to L.A., closer to where he’s from … and fought him for that. The ring had a mat that was so soft, you could have basically laid down on it. Come on, you could have got some good rest! I did all that and beat him with one hand! And then the very next fight, I go to Germany. Where the guy is based at, where the guy’s been fighting his whole career. Alexander Dimitrenko. I go in in tremendous condition. I don’t think twice about going in–and that was a little better payday, any time you fight in Germany, you’re gonna get paid well, because they love their boxing, I would love to go there and fight often–but anyway, I went in his backyard and dominated him. I got mad respect for him, but I did. And then, the very next fight, I go back, and fight the almighty Klitschko over there, in front of the German fans, in a soccer stadium. I ain’t never fought in front of a crowd like that before, but I did it.
[Wladimir Klitschko] had a superior plan. His team around him, that he had for years, and so have I, but those guys have been doing this on such a high level for so long. That was our first crack at it. But, I had no reservations about it. I went on over there and gave the best account of myself that I could, given the kind of planning and things like that that I needed to dominate or beat a guy like a Klitschko. But I still went in there and fought to the end. Even before that, I fought a tournament, I fought Calvin Brock who had challenged for a title, and then right after that I had to fight Alexander Povetkin, in Germany! On HBO! And then before those fights I had to fight [Dominick] Guinn, who at one point was supposed to be the American hopeful. My road is not the easy road. If [anyone] wants to sit there and question me, trust me … I have never been really been given the kind of pay in these kinds of fights that say, another fighter would get. But I’m not mad, because hell, this is the way fighters are made. We’re providing a service for people to watch, for entertainment, right … but [the fighter] is also doing it eventually so we don’t ever have to get another job again in our life. We’re doing this so we can be financially secure for the rest of our lives, our family and our family’s family, you know what I mean?
BOXING INSIDER: You’ve got every right to want that, especially when you’re boxing for a living.
EDDIE CHAMBERS: When you’re busting your head, getting hurt. And how long are we going to be able to do this? Our window is very short, we don’t have a lot of time in this sport, so don’t you think we need and deserve to get paid and get the credit? And me in particular, I’ve done everything that’s been asked of me and more. And I don’t mind doing it, because I love this game. Come on, you can’t throw dirt on my name because of one situation. Come on.
BOXING INSIDER: Part of the problem for you and other American heavyweights right now is, you have so-called boxing “experts” like Bert Sugar constantly telling American boxing fans that the champions, the Klitschkos, are no-talents, bums. That’s a really stupid thing to do, because not only is it not true, but then if you lose to one of them, if they’re bums, what does that make you? Worse than a bum.
EDDIE CHAMBERS: You know what? That’s the game. It’s a “what have you done for me lately?” kind of sport. Because the era is fairly weak, there’s not enough good fighters. And it’s really the work ethic of a lot of the American heavyweights out there. There are some that have a great work ethic, but a lot of them don’t. I’m one of the ones who gives my heart when I’m getting ready for a fight. I’m the one that you gotta say, “Hey man, take a break, go home and go to sleep,” you know? “Rest.” That’s the kind of guy I am, I have an addictive personality when it comes to certain things, if I’m doing something that I know is a big deal for me, I’m going to work my ass off at it. If I happen to like it a lot, I’m also that way. It’s like a double whammy for me. I love it, plus I need it — I’ve got to give the best account of myself every time I go out there.
BOXING INSIDER: I think it’s your bad luck to be fighting in an era, where after America ruled the heavyweight division for most of its existence, suddenly for the last six or seven years, America doesn’t rule the roost. And America often doesn’t like things when it’s not on top.
EDDIE CHAMBERS: You sound exactly like me. It goes along with the arrogance of the Americans. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an American myself. But let me tell you, I don’t care who’s on top in a sport, if I like it, I’m going to watch it. In basketball, just because we didn’t win a gold medal that one year, I still watched it! Because I love basketball.
BOXING INSIDER: Because you’re a fan of the sport.
EDDIE CHAMBERS: But now in boxing, it’s like, there’s not an American heavyweight [champion], it’s like, “We don’t care, boxing is not big anymore, we hate boxing.” Really? Are you serious? Because there’s no [American] heavyweight champion? That is arrogance personified. That’s the difficulty we have right now with the American public anyway. You look at the networks, HBO in particular [saying] “We don’t want to watch heavyweights no more….” Come on now, how are we gonna ever get back to a high level in boxing again? How is boxing ever going to become big again in the States?
BOXING INSIDER: If they don’t show the heavyweights!
EDDIE CHAMBERS: Exactly. Think about it, they’re not shilling, not promoting our fighters well. When I was on my way, when I had just beat Samuel Peter, HBO had a fight on and they showed the top heavyweights. You know how they put the pictures up there. Well they had me, Povetkin, Dimitrenko and Arreola. They said good thing about every other fighter. But when they got to me, they said [unenthusiastic tone], “Oh yeah, he’s a good fighter, but he fights in an unexciting style.”
BOXING INSIDER: Wow, thanks a lot!
EDDIE CHAMBERS: Yeah. And I’m the only American on there and they kill me, and put them other dudes on a pedestal like they’re actually gonna be something! And it’s like, I’m the best out of that whole group! I even proved it. The only one I didn’t get a chance to fight again was Povetkin. But it’s because I fight in an “unexciting style.” So after that nobody wants to see me. Nobody.
BOXING INSIDER: The “unexciting style” rap is aggravating. There’s a lot of different styles in boxing, and if you’re a fan, you learn to appreciate them.
EDDIE CHAMBERS: Look at every fight I’ve had: I’ve never ran from anybody, I don’t hold, I don’t do anything dirty. I’ll throw punches, whatever you want. What else can you ask for? I’m better skilled than 95, 98 percent of the heavyweights out there. Give me a break.
[Tune in soon for Part Two of the “Fast” Eddie Chambers Interview]