Boxing


Brock Chambers: Living in America

By Jim Furo: Never has it been like this. In 1931, Ring magazine said there was one. In 1955 it stated that there, again, was only one that year. In 1992, it upped it to two. Now, according to many boxing fans, there may be as many as 7 or 8. The answer? Non American heavyweights ranked inside the top ten. Like many fight fans, I find this interesting, but it does not concern me all that much. After all, boxing, at the true center of its being, has always billed itself as having Champions of the World. Not just the United States, not just the U.K., but of the whole wide world. Contrary to its promise, from 1882 until 1999, the heavyweight division hardly lived up to that billing.

There were a couple of exceptions: your Bob Fitzsimmons solar plexus punch in 1897; Max Schmeling taking one in the groin for Germany in 1932; your Ingo's Bingo winning the title off the hands of Floyd Patterson and bringing it to Sweden (of all places) before loosing it again in the next fight rematch. And heavyweight historians can never forget Tommy Burns.

Like a museum loaning out a priceless painting for a brief period of time, the belt would occasionally go overseas for a little bit. There local people would admire it and see with their own eyes that, yes, it really did exist, and then promptly it would be returned back to its rightful American owners.

That all started to change in the 1990's with a heavyweight by the name of Lennox Lewis. Lewis seemed to have the audacity to not only win the belt, but actually hold on to it for a good while. But most Americans were not that alarmed, after all, it was only a matter of time before the nation that brought you Jeffries, Johnson, Dempsey, Louis, Rocky, Liston, Ali, Holmes, Tyson, etc. etc. would churn out another heavyweight to curate its title. And, besides, most Americans were still pretty sure that in England, most people, like them, spoke American.

But here we are, almost in 2008, and nobody is returning Washington's phone calls (if Washington has pulled itself away from this weeks NFL Colts vs. Patriots pre-game speculation for long enough to care).

Many of boxing's followers, myself included, do not mind. Good fighters and good fights are all that matter, not where your passport says you originate from. And, besides, many of the top heavyweights have adopted the US as their home, anyway. But in order for the puzzle to truly have all its pieces put together, it would be nice to have a born and raised U.S. heavyweight on the scene that could make things happen.

The U.S. has two potential job candidates fighting each other this Friday in the other half of the first round of the well matched IBF tournament. This fight will feature North Carolina's Calvin Brock vs. Philadelphia's Eddie Chambers. Winner to be crowned heavyweight king of America (with a nod to Tony Thompson).

It is fitting that one of these fighters was brought up in America's best fighting city, Philadelphia, while the other fighter was the 2000 Olympic representative.

Most people know that Calvin Brock has already attempted to win the IBF belt, before a seventh round right sent him crashing down to the canvas. Because of this, and because he brings that always loved 0 in the loss category, many would be more optimistic if Chambers could emerge from this fight as the heavyweight to watch. Putting on a good performance would make people more hopeful for him than they are currently are about this smallish heavy who many feel lacks a punch. With a dominant performance, he can make a name for himself in Tacomah.

Eddie is that rare U.S. heavyweight commodity, a fighter who turned pro very young (18) and has improved his skills and competition with each passing year. And one that is very young for a current heavyweight at 25.

However, if it is Brock who wins, the selling line for him is that he is now an improved fighter, with a follow-up win over Russia's Alexander Povetkin early next year, his stock would rise considerably. Closer to his fellow classmates of 2000, Sam Peter and Sultan Ibragimov. And while that Klitschko loss will be hard to forget, and though a rematch seemed hardly necessary after the last fight, he will have his supporters and those who think he will now be a better man for the job. This is what the IBF is hoping you will believe, anyway, if it is Brock who wins this tournament.

So, anticipating the cynicism that will be hurled at both fighters, the inevitable "neither one of them will get past Povetkin let alone Klitschko" comments it will still be an intriguing fight to turn in for, until perhaps the opening bell rings. Unlike Povetkin v. Byrd, where many had Povetkin winning, correctly, before the fight, this is a much closer fight to call. At worst, you might see more of what's wrong with the modern American heavyweight. But, perhaps, one of these fighters will rise to the challenge in a performance that states "yes, I am the next great American heavyweight."

Article posted on 29.10.2007



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