Chambers' jab proved key to victory

3/28/2009 - Boxing

LOS ANGELES -- In boxing, the word "heavyweight" evokes thoughts of big, bad dudes throwing punches that no normal man would ever want to taste.

And even though Eddie Chambers made Sam Peter eat so many jabs and not many power shots during their heavyweight crossroads tilt Friday, the night was still anything but a delectable treat for the former titlist.

Not since the days of Larry Holmes have we seen a heavyweight throw and land a jab the way Chambers threw and landed his. Not that they had the same zip or sting of those doled out by Holmes (whose jab was tantamount to a power punch), but Chambers used the jab almost exclusively to win a 10-round, majority decision over Peter in their crossroads battle at Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

Considering Peter outweighed Chambers by 42 pounds -- 265 to 223 -- it was one heck of a performance.

There's a reason why Chambers rarely threw a right cross -- though when he did he landed it with terrific speed and accuracy, if only with medium power.

"Well, I'm definitely happy about the victory," Philadelphia's Chambers told ESPN.com minutes before he met with reporters at the postfight news conference. "I'm a little disappointed in what I did totally as a whole, but happy about the jab. I hurt my hand a bit -- my right hand -- [in] the third or fourth round.

"I jammed my thumb and wrist a little bit. And so I had to stick with what I had. I threw my jab a lot, tried to turn the right hand over when I could because no matter what, in a fight you gotta do what you gotta do to win."

After the fight, it was obvious his hand had been injured. Tape had been placed on his wrist and thumb for support, and it seemed a bit tweaked as he held it out. But during the fight, fans in the stands could not have known he had been hurt. Still, they chanted "Eddie, Eddie," even though just about everything he threw was a jab instead of a power shot.

Interestingly enough, Chambers was actually prepared for just this scenario, according to his trainer, Rob Murray Sr.

"We had done some drills before we came out here, looking at some old fights," Murray said. "We looked at Jeff Sims and Tyrell Biggs and stuff like that, where guys won fights with one hand.

"And I always told Eddie, 'Those are the things you are going to have to learn how to do.'"

Chambers, who will turn 27 on Sunday, said he indeed tried to mimic what Biggs did when, after breaking his right collarbone in the second round against Sims in March 1986, Biggs won a 10-round decision with one punch -- the jab.

That said, Chambers said he should have done even more against Peter.

"Even if I won the title with the performance I had tonight, I still would be a little down because I know what I can do," Chambers said. "Even hurting my hand a bit, I still thought that I could have done more with my left.

"You know, not just the jab, maybe the uppercut, the hook."

That will come, Murray said.

"The most important thing is this, it's only my fourth fight coaching Eddie," Murray said. "I was his manager before. He has to buy into the things that I want him to do. He already bought into the jab theory, he bought into the head movement theory and he'll buy into more things."

Murray took over for Chambers' father, Eddie Sr., after Chambers lost to Alexander Povetkin in a title elimination fight in January 2008 in Germany.

That loss derailed Chambers for a spell, but he has gotten himself back on track with four consecutive victories. Now he finds himself on the brink of a title shot.

It's almost difficult to imagine Chambers (34-1, 18 KOs) becoming champion, if only because he is a small heavyweight with medium power at a time when every champion in the division is huge.

But Chambers -- as hard as he is on himself -- showed much more than just a jab against Peter. He was spectacular on defense. He dodged punches and picked off loads of them with his gloves. He also showed deft body movement with his feet as well as his upper torso.

He would throw two or three jabs in succession. When doing that, one can be susceptible to a counter right -- in Peter's case, a counter overhand right. But Chambers would let the jabs fly, then jerk himself out of harm's way in a flash.

Not many heayweights today are that fluid. The way his promoter, Dan Goossen, sees it, Chambers has earned his chance to fight for a major championship.

"I believe that toward the end of the year, we're going to see him get a world title shot," said Goossen, president of Goossen Tutor Promotions. "There are not a lot of first-class heayweights there today. And he proved it tonight that he was."

In other words, bring on the Klitschkos.

Wladimir Klitschko holds two of the belts while Vitali wears the one he took from Peter when he stopped the Nigerian after nine rounds in Germany in October. Wladimir is 6-foot-6½ and fights at about 245 pounds. Vitali is 6-7½ and usually weighs in the 250 range.

"[I'll fight] either one," said the 6-1 Chambers, who is the No. 3-ranked contender to one of Wladimir Klitschko's belts. "I mean, I would just love the opportunity.

"They're good fighters and I know I have to train extremely hard and work extremely hard to get to a level where I could contend with those big, strong guys."

They may be big and strong, but Chambers has the ultimate nullifier -- that stinging jab.

Robert Morales covers boxing for the Long Beach (Calif.) Press-Telegram.