Tuesday, May 30, 2023  |


High stakes for both Peter and Chambers

Fighters Network

The winner of the heavyweight fight between Samuel Peter and Eddie Chambers on Friday will walk away with no title, but the loser of the ESPN2-televised fight will end up with an undesirable label.

If Peter loses, the former WBC titleholder will become an official “has been.” If Chambers loses, the once-beaten fringe contender will join a long list of American heavyweights who are viewed as “never will bes” by hardcore fans.

The stakes are both high and harsh for such young prize fighters. Peter (30-2, 23 knockouts) is 28. Chambers (33-1, 18 KOs) is only 26.

Peter’s only losses are to the Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, the giant Ukrainian brothers who hold three of the four major titles and are considered the top two heavyweights in the world.

Chambers’ only loss is to Alexander Povetkin, an undefeated former world amateur champ and Olympic gold medalist who is rated No. 4 in the world by THE RING.

And yet, if either fighter loses one more fight, he may never be taken seriously again by the fans, the media or the networks.

“It’s a must-win fight for both fighters and that seems like an odd thing when you consider that Eddie has only one loss and Sam had the title around his waist in his last fight,” said Dan Goossen, promoter of both Chambers and the card at the Nokia Theatre in L.A. “In any other sport a team can have eight or nine losses and still be the division leader, but in boxing one loss will set a fighter back by at least a year.

“It’s a pity how we treat fighters with one or two losses. Boxing is cruel like that.”

However, boxing is the chosen profession of Peter and Chambers. They know it’s a tough sport both in and out of the ring.

Which is why Goossen, ever the promoter, believes fans are going to be treated to a good fight.

“They know they can’t lose,” said Goossen. “They realize that, so I think we’ll get the best of both of them. Peter has to bring the best of Peter with all of his strength and power. Eddie has to bring the best of Eddie with all of his speed and skill.

“At the same time, Eddie knows that he can’t just hit and run. He’s going to have to stand his ground if he wants to be sure of a victory and if he wants to get fans excited about him. I think Eddie’s best bet to win is to fight Peter, and I think if he fights the way he’s been training, he can do that. It should result in a good, power-punching scrap.

“If he reverts to his old style, he’ll get tracked down by the ‘Nigerian Nightmare.'”

That might be true, even though Peter weighed a career high 265 at Thursday’s weigh-in and will likely be slower and more plodding than usual.

Chambers weighed 223, the second heaviest of his career.

Did he come in heavy to add to his power? Is Chambers, whose average fighting weight is 215 pounds, trying to be something he’s not?

Can he overcome the 42-pound weight disadvantage Peter will carry into the ring?

And even if he does beat Peter, can he go on to compete against modern-sized heavyweight contenders?

Joe Goossen, who doesn’t train Chambers but has watched him workout at his gym for the past four weeks, believes the small heavyweight can be a player in a division of giants.

“There are really big heavyweights out there, but only a few good ones,” Goossen said. “The Klitschkos are the best of the giant heavyweights, but they’re basically athletic guys who do one or two things really well. They’re good but I think the sad state of the division helps them look better than they are.

“I don’t think Peter offered any resistance to Vitali when they fought and in Vitali’s most recent fight, against Juan Carlos Gomez, it looked to me like he was in with a shot fighter.”

Goossen says the same thing can be said about Wladimir’s recent opponents. And he has a point.

Lamon Brewster didn’t come to fight in his rematch with the younger Klitschko brother. Neither did Sultan Ibragimov. Hasim Rahman looked more shot against Wladimir than Gomez did against Vitali.

Nikolai Valuev, an interim beltholder and the biggest of the heavyweight contenders, struggled with a badly faded 46-year-old Evander Holyfield, who weighed 214 to the 7-foot Russian’s 310. Many observers believe Holyfield won their 12-round bout last December.

“I don’t care if a heavyweight is small,” said Goossen, who trains a modern-sized heavyweight in undefeated Malik Scott. “If he can fight, I mean really fight, he has a shot in this division.

“I think Chambers can fight.”

Doug Fischer can be reached at [email protected]