By Jake Donovan
If it was frustrating as a fan to watch Eddie Chambers pull out of back-to-back fights due to injury, trying seeing it from the fighter’s side of the table.
“I’ve never had injuries in my career; now I’ve had two injuries in a row,” Chambers states in being forced to withdraw from high profile fights with Tony Thompson and Siarhei Liakhovich. “My bills aren’t paying themselves. I don’t have many endorsements. I literally can’t afford to not fight.”
Worse than the injuries itself is the opportunities missed with each fight. A planned Oct. ’11 showdown with Thompson would’ve placed the winner in position to secure a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko; that fight now goes to Thompson by default, as he faces Klitschko on July 7 in Europe.
Chambers’ bout with Liakhovich would’ve been a rare hometown showcase. Plans called for the fight to take place in Philadelphia, to serve as the main event for the inaugural episode of NBC Sports Network’s ‘Fight Night’ series.
Instead, another potential top heavyweight was introduced to the world. Bryant Jennings was elevated to co-feature status on the show, looking so good that he was brought back for last month’s edition, stopping Liakhovich in nine one-sided rounds.
Chambers is not the type to live a life of regret. Everything is God’s plan as far as the heavyweight contender sees things. Still, the whispers surrounding his past few fallouts hasn’t sat very well.
“It does kind of sting a little bit,” Chambers admits. “People went from viewing you as the American hope to now, “Oh he’s pulling out” and this and that. Once I go out and fight, I’m proving I’m the best there is.”
It stands to reason that the ‘something to prove’ factor had a part in finalizing terms for his next assignment, a June 16 showdown with former two-division champ and current top heavyweight Tomasz Adamek.
For this bout, Chambers gives up homefield advantage. The bout will take place at the Prudential Center in Newark, where Adamek has developed as a huge draw since relocating to the United States from his native Poland in 2008.
A ring is a ring as far as Chambers is concerned. The biggest win of his still promising career took place on the road, manhandling Alexander Dimitrenko in Germany nearly three years ago, in a fight that indirectly led to the lone title shot of his career.
His challenge of the lineal heavyweight title didn’t go anywhere nearly as well. Chambers was shut down by Klitschko and stopped in the closing seconds of the 12th round of their March ’10 championshp contest.
Chambers has fought just once since then, scoring a unanimous decision over Derrick Rossy in their rematch last February. Consecutive fallouts have followed, leaving the Philly contender with a 16-month period of inactivity by the time the Adamek fight rolls around.
It’s not the most ideal way to head into a fight against a perennial Top 5 contender. However, Chambers has reached the point where he has to take what’s available, at least until he’s able to once again hit his stride.
“I was in the house for Adamek’s last fight against Nagy Aguilera,” Chambers says in explaining the process of securing the June opportunity. “It was impressive enough for me to say that a fight with him is a good fight for the fans. Adamek has a great Polish following in New Jersey – it will make a great night of fights for boxing fans.
“Honestly, though, my first thought was to get a little bit of work. I didn’t expect negotiations to be that simple. You don’t pass on this opportunity. You see guys like Floyd and Manny taking a year off and taking on elite fighters. I’m the same way, even if not quite on their level. But I’m always ready for the best. Who knows if I’ll have another good opportunity. I’d be a fool to not take it.”
All it took was for Chambers to express interest in facing Adamek in order to get the ball rolling. Main Events CEO Kathy Duva has been blessed with the chance to provide content for the Fight Night series on NBC Sports Network and has yet to rest in efforts to produce the best fights for the allotted budget.
The moment she heard of a heavyweight fight at the top contender level, the first thought was to go all out to land it as a headliner for this series. Adamek was already penciled in to headline the June 16 telecast, with the promise that it would come against a Top-10 type heavyweight.
Enter Mr. Chambers.
“It’s a tremendous fight,” Duva believes. “It’s the type of fight that is interesting to fans, which is of course the type of fights we want to keep doing. We did it in the first two shows and we have another one in June with this one.”
Though he has yet to participate, Chambers was on hand for both Fight Night episodes. The heavyweight contender is a big fan of the series and what it delivers to boxing fans – a rare opportunity to receive plenty of bang for your buck.
That he was approached by Duva at ringside during last month’s show meant a lot to Chambers, enough to want to be a part of the series in the very neart future.
“I like the fact that when the fight was over, Kathy came over and talked to me,” Chambers acknowledges. “She asked who I’d like to fight next. I told her that a fight with Adamek is a great opportunity. She came back and said, ‘We can do it.’
“I didn’t expect to be that simple. I had a meeting and said I want to get started, get active. I want to stay sharp. Someone comes into the gym and says they need to work, I’m right there ready. I’m always up for a fight. I like to have adversity, it makes it something worth fighting for.”
Chambers gets adversity in spades heading into this particular fight. He’s taking on a bigger fighter (they’re all bigger at heavyweight for Chambers) in hostile territory, coming off of a lengthy layoff and with something to prove to the fans.
If you hear the fighter tell it, he’s exactly where he wants to be.
“It’s just the way it is,” Chambers believes. “I had the chance to fight at home, but suffered the injury. God’s plan is for it to be tough for me. Being a small heavyweight is enough of a challenge. On top of that, I have to follow these guys. I just plan to go into hostile territory, which if you think about it is a lot more rewarding. It’s been the statement of my career. I fight big guys on the road.”
Call it a modern day rendition of David versus Goliath. It’s now up to Chambers to convince the masses that he can find a sling shot to tear through the roadblocks present in the worst stretch of his pro career.
“I love the sport of boxing. I’m appreciative to the fans who have stood through all of the bad. We suffer through bad decisions and bad fights, but the fans are still here. I’m appreciative. This is a fight that fans have been wanting and I’m willing to oblige. I have to take a fight of this magnitude – not just for myself, but the fans who have stood by and the ones who fell off and doubt me.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter:@JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]