By Robert Morales
Emanuel Steward's first phone call Sunday was from heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
"He said, 'Did you see that (Eddie) Chambers beat (Alexander) Dimitrenko?' " said Steward, who trains Klitschko. "I said, 'Chambers beat Dimitrenko?' I was a little surprised, but not really that surprised."
Chambers is 6-foot-1 and weighed 208 1/4 pounds when he squared off with Dimitrenko on Saturday in Germany. Dimitrenko is 6-7 and came in at 253 1/2. But Steward intimated that the skills of many of these bigger European fighters don't match their size, so their size advantage shrinks a bit. He said that is not the case with Klitschko.
"Wladimir is not winning all these fights just because he is big, but because he is a good fighter," Steward said.
Steward said Klitschko did not have any particular comment on the performance of Chambers, who won a majority decision.
"I think the most important thing is he was just looking at who he was going to fight with all these mandatories," Steward said Wednesday via telephone.
Alexander Povetkin is the mandatory challenger to Klitschko's International Boxing Federation belt, and the third-ranked challenger to Klitschko's World Boxing Organiztion crown. Dimitrenko was ranked No. 1 by the WBO, but Chambers is now that organization's mandatory challenger.
Well, if Steward had his druthers, Klitschko's next fight would not come against Povetkin or Chambers. It would come against Southern California's Chris Arreola, who is ranked in the top 5 of both governing bodies; he is also ranked No. 1 by the World Boxing Council, whose champion is Vitali Klitschko.
"I told (Wladimir) the fight most people are interested in is Chris Arreola," Steward said. "There has been a lot of talk about that. Arreola is a big kid. He has that attitude. Some fighters get intimidated (by Wladimir) and get too technical. But Arreola is going to be more aggressive."
Steward said that after Arreola he would like to see Klitschko fight fellow champion Nicolai Valuev.
"I don't know what they're going to do," Steward said of Klitschko and his advisors. "What people are more into is Arreola more than anything."
Steward also said, "I think we're going to find out in the next few days what's going to happen with these two mandatories."
Boxers have been asked - or paid - to step aside while a champion takes on an opponent who is not a mandatory. Arreola may be ranked No. 1 by the WBC, but that has nothing to do with Wladimir Klitschko.
On the heels of our conversation with Steward, we called Dan Goossen, who happens to promote Chambers and Arreola. Goossen said that he didn't want to get into too many what ifs regarding whether he would consider asking Chambers to step aside for Arreola.
"I will cross that bridge when we come to it," he said.
Goossen did have a thought on Steward's assessment of Arreola.
"If there is one thing I agree with Emanuel on is that Arreola wouldn't be intimidated by any heavyweight out there," Goossen said.
HBO's Davis Chimes in
Goossen said during a conference call Tuesday that he had spoken with HBO executive Kery Davis about Chambers' performance Saturday. Davis confirmed that during a telephone conversation Wednesday from New York City.
"I thought that Eddie looked very good," Davis said. "The important thing was he looked like he was in good shape."
Chambers' only loss is to the aforementioned Povetkin. It was an IBF title elimination fight in Germany that was televised by HBO in January 2008. Chambers weighed 219 1/2 pounds, or 11 1/4 pounds more than he weighed this past Saturday. Davis recalled that Chambers looked good early against Povetkin, but that "he faded toward the end of the fight and stopped throwing punches."
That was not the case against Dimitrenko.
"This time he obviously didn't do that and actually got stronger, which I was very impressed with," Davis said.
Davis was asked, then, if HBO would be interested in a Chambers-Wladimir Klitschko fight.
"I think Wladimir has to fight Povetkin first," Davis said. "And when that (Chambers-Klitschko) fight comes along, which will happen sometime next year, we will certainly look at that. And Eddie is an American fighter, which also helps."
Davis was also told about Steward's comments regarding an Arreola-Wladimir Klitschko fight.
"I think, first of all, let's assume that fight would happen in the U.S.," Davis said. "I think it would be great for boxing in general to have a heavyweight championship fight in the U.S. And with a young guy like Chris Arreola, I think it would bring some attention to the division, which would be welcome. It's a fight we would definitely be interested in.
"But like you said, there are a bunch of obstacles. ... He has two mandatories and I don't know that either or would step aside."
Vazquez Familiar with Ortiz's Plight
If anyone can identify with what Victor Ortiz is currently going through, it's Israel Vazquez.
Flash back to March 2007 at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Vazquez was embroiled in the first of his three fights with Rafael Marquez. He was even on one scorecard and behind by two points on each of the other two after seven rounds.
Following the seventh, Vazquez said he could not continue. This came after Vazquez claimed he was willing to die in the ring to win the fight.
Initial reports had Vazquez suffering a broken nose. Many reporters didn't want to hear it. They were of the mind that Vazquez looked fine and that a broken nose notwithstanding, he never should have quit.
It turns out that Vazquez did not have a broken nose. Rather he had cartilage damage that created such a blockage he only had about 10 percent breathing capacity from his nose. And since fighters wear a mouthpiece, it rendered him incapable of being able to breathe well enough to fight.
But Vazquez was not going to be completely exonerated by reporters and the fans he lost until he went out and proved he had the heart of a lion. He did that and more when he came back five months later to stop Marquez in the sixth round in Texas. He cemented that when, seven months after that second fight, he won a split decision over Marquez back at Home Depot Center. Decking Marquez with 10 seconds left in the fight was the difference.
Vazquez is back in training after having recently been medically cleared to resume his career after three surgeries to repair a detached retina shelved him since that third fight with Marquez. We spoke to Vazquez on Tuesday, and we asked him if, like himself, he believes Ortiz may have lost some fans when it appeared to many like he did not want to continue in his sixth-round technical knockout loss to Marcos Maidana on June 27 in Los Angeles.
Ortiz was ahead by three points on all scorecards.
"I believe he did," said Vazquez, "because before anything I feel a fighter should have a big heart."
Vazquez said there is only one way Ortiz can erase what took place 11 days ago.
"He must ask right away to go directly into a rematch with Maidana," Vazquez said. "Even if he doesn't knock him out and he boxes him and he goes the distance, I feel he will have things his way.
"Maidana does hit harder, I feel. Also, Victor's chin is suspect. But he doesn't have to go in there and go straight on with him. He can go in there and box him and do what he has to do to win the fight."
Vazquez said the period between the first and second fights with Marquez was a difficult stretch for him. He had to hear all the naysayers question his intestinal fortitude and he knew he couldn't change that until he got another crack at Marquez.
"It was a tough time," said Vazquez, who had surgery to repair the damage in his nose. "A lot of people questioned me coming back. A lot of people didn't think I should come back in five months. But I wanted to go out and prove to everybody that I had a bad night in March (2007). I had a great night in August."
Fortunately for Vazquez, there was a rematch clause in the contract for the first fight.
"We knew that was going to be the fight where we were going to prove to people that he had the courage, the warrior's spirit," said Frank Espinoza, Vazquez's manager. "He loves his fans and he wasn't about to disappoint them.
"He proved to the fans not only in the second fight, but how he came back in the third fight. And it all came down to the last 10 seconds of the last round. That was the deciding factor. He came out (in the 12th round) like it was the first round."
Espinoza believes that although Vazquez temporarily lost some of his fans, he got them back. Espinoza also agrees with Vazquez that Ortiz should get right back in the saddle.
"I know the doctor did stop the fight, but there are some people who question Victor," Espinoza said. "The thing that Victor has to do is come back and prove himself just like Vazquez did. That's what he's gotta do, come right back."
Vazquez Ready For The Fourth
The Fourth of July holiday passed Saturday. But a fourth fight between Vazquez and Marquez would bring plenty of its own fireworks, and Vazquez said he is hopeful that fight will soon be made.
"I want to come straight back with Marquez," Vazquez said. "I've been off for over a year but I've taken care of my body. I've been eating good, very healthy. That is the fight people want to see and I want to oblige them."
Vazquez is training at the Teamsters Youth Boxing Club in South El Monte.
"I feel great," he said. "It feels like I never left the ring. I just feel great in the ring and I can't wait to get back in the four corners again."
There was a recent report on BoxingScene.com quoting Marquez's trainer, Nacho Beristain, as saying that Espinoza "is reluctant to sign the fight." Espinoza scoffed at that notion.
"That is total b***s**t," Espinoza said. "Nacho is mistaken if he thinks I'm holding up the fight. That is the fight both Israel and I want before any other."
Espinoza said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, is hopeful of putting that fight together. Vazquez has been co-promoted by Golden Boy and Sycuan Ringside Promotions. But Espinoza said recently that contract had expired. Sycuan disagreed, saying Vazquez's injuries automatically extended the contract.
This is one of the bits of business Schaefer has been commissioned to resolve.
Espinoza recently signed highly touted bantamweight Abner Mares to a contract, much to the chagrin of Beristain, who was training Mares but ceased to do so once Mares signed with Espinoza.
Words have since been exchanged between Espinoza and Beristain in various publications. And being that Vazquez owns a 2-1 record over Marquez, it seems there is somewhat of a rivalry brewing with Espinoza and Beristain.
It could develop further if a fight between Mares and Jorge Arce can be made. Who trains Arce? You guessed it - Beristain.
"Why not put the two guys together?" Espinoza said. "That would be a nice f*****g fight."
Robert Morales covers boxing for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, and BoxingScene.com.