PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                          March 20, 2010


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Photo by Lars Baron / Bongarts / Getty Images



Later today, Eddie Chambers gets his big chance against champion Wladimir Klitschko for most of the belts and the "real" heavyweight crown. Fast Eddie will have to overcome a 35-lb weight advantage and half-a-head in height to bring the title back to Philly. Chambers weighed 209 to Wlad's 244 yesterday. Now we doubt that Chambers will be testing the "Bigger they are, the harder they fall" theory, given that his game plan will be one of speed, defense and in-and-out movement. But we're ready to see the big man topple, if Eddie can pull the ultimate shocker. He may need such a lightning bolt to get a win in Germany against the transplanted (and wildly popular) champ. But Eddie, an 8:1 underdog, has a plan and today around 6PM he'll get his chance to make it work for him.

The real story of this fight for me is the utter lack of attention it has received. Watching the various local news broadcasts yesterday, I didn't see a single story on the bout. Maybe there was one I missed, but my highly unscientific study was pretty damn thorough. Has the boxing media vacuum has reached such a point that the local news can't even mention that a local fighter is going all the way to Europe to get a crack at the heavyweight championship of the world? Could they at least do a human interest piece, or perhaps just wish him well? Well, they haven't.

I understand that March Madness has begun. So the news was filled with that. Now I couldn't care less about college basketball. But that's me. And it is true that I am a one-sport-kind-of-a-guy. Boxing is the one for me, and granted I am biased. But is the Chambers-Klitschko fight the least newsworthy sports story out there? No way! They even went on about baseball spring training, and how some pitcher's shoulder felt pretty good after throwing a couple of innings - IN A PRACTICE GAME!

It seems to me that if a local lumberjack was competing in log splitting competition at a state fair somewhere, the TV news would be all over it. I can picture Vai Sikahema even doing the story in a flannel shirt.

Add to this that the usual TV outlets that show the fights - in the case of anything Klitschko, were talking about HBO & HBO PPV - had no interest in broadcasting this one. It gives one the impression that this match means nothing. That is so untrue. Chambers has at least as good a chance of winning as most of Wladimir's other opponents over the past few years. The same goes for brother Vitali's foes. But forget Chambers' chances, this is a fight for the heavyweight championship between a highly favored, gargantuan, Ukrainian, champion in his boxing prime against a smaller, younger, American, underdog from Philadelphia. This is "Rocky", "David & Goliath" and "Rocky IV" all rolled into one.

Well some of us do care about this fight. Free-lance writer Don Steinberg made the trip to Dusseldorf to cover the event. He's currently posting daily blogs at, and has done a great job setting the stage for the big fight. He's covered the weigh-in and the final workouts, detailed the special robe that Chambers will wear, named the referee who got the job, and generally helped to raise the pulse for those of us who cannot wait for the first bell around 6PM. Steinberg also plans to post live blog entries throughout the fight. I'll be reading them on, while I watch the live web-cast of the fight on I imagine Don will also have a story in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer.

So I don't care what anyone says. This fight matters. About 51,000 will pack the fight venue to watch it live. Shame on the local media for ignoring it. Win or lose, Chambers and his team have done a great job landing (and earning) this fight. Eddie is the first Philly fighter in 17 years to get a shot at the heavyweight title. If he wins it he'll be the first Philly heavyweight champ since Tim Witherspoon held the WBA belt about 24 years ago. Now that's human interest, and a sports story - especially for Philadelphians. If Eddie wins, it will be big news in the sports world everywhere. They always come around when there is a big upset. Or when someone gets hurt, or arrested, or loses an ear.

So go to it Eddie Chambers. I'll be watching. So will Don Steinberg. Probably Philly Keith too.  And the band wagons will be pulled together in time for your trip home. This is an exciting moment in local boxing history. This is Eddie Chambers' moment. Good Luck!




All photos by Lars Baron / Bongarts / Getty Images

John DiSanto - News & Notes - March 20, 2010