by David P. Greisman
Eddie Chambers hadn’t initially thought he’d be moving in this direction — from heavyweight contender down to cruiserweight. Instead, he once thought he would use the cruiserweight division as a springboard for a heavyweight campaign, much like Evander Holyfield, James Toney and David Haye had done.
That’s not what happened. He fought as what this era would consider a smaller heavyweight for more than a decade, even as he got lighter and came in within pounds of the cruiserweight limit in his last bout, a controversial June 2012 loss to Tomasz Adamek. Now he’s set to make his cruiserweight debut against Thabiso Mchunu as part of the Aug. 3 broadcast of NBC Sports Network’s “Fight Night.”
Nevertheless, he feels his experience at heavyweight has prepared him in some ways for facing cruiserweights.
“First off, at cruiserweight I feel as comfortable as I did at heavyweight,” Chambers said during a July 24 media conference call. My last fight with Tomasz I was at 202 pounds, and during camp I was probably under the cruiserweight limit a few different times. The transition should be seamless, shouldn’t be a problem. As far as the experience I’ve had at heavyweight, getting in there with guys considering big punchers in heavyweight division, going down to a lighter weight class, obviously that … will serve me well.
“However, a lot of these heavyweights that I faced, I’m not saying those guys were super slow, but moving down in weight class the guys tend to be a little more elusive, athletic and a little more coordinated,” he said. “They’re not going to have a speed advantage. No one is [faster] against me, not to sound arrogant. But they’re slightly faster [than heavyweights]. I have to prepare to be faster as well. So what I do is I’ve got guys in the gym who are a little smaller, a little faster, but I still do want to keep the heavyweights around because of the power and the strength.”
Chambers, 31, is coming off a long layoff, thanks in part to the arm injury he suffered in the Adamek fight. That defeat brought his record to 36-3 with 18 knockouts. Mchunu, meanwhile, is listed at 24 years old on BoxRec.com with a record of 13-1 and 10 knockouts.
Chambers said his ideal weight is less than 200 pounds, and that he’s gotten as far down as 191 pounds. He expects to come in around 195.
He didn’t rule out a return to heavyweight for a “sweet deal” against the smaller heavyweights who tip the scales at or less than about 225 pounds.
For the moment, though, he is a cruiserweight.
“The transition was because I just really want to be a world champion, and I see that possibility being a little more available at cruiserweight right now,” Chambers said. “I also can reign there, because there is no size difference. I can just go ahead and dominate these guys.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]