|PHILLY BOXING HISTORY June 16, 2012||
ADDING INSULT TO INJURY
In an important clash of top heavyweights, Tomasz Adamek won a 12-round unanimous decision over an injured, one-armed Eddie Chambers in their nationally televised main event at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ Saturday night. The fight was close. Adamek threw more punches and controlled the ground game, moving forward constantly, while the quick and accurate Chambers landed more blows and blocked most of Adamek's incoming shots.
After the fight, opinions at ringside about who had won varied wildly, but the three official scorers all felt Adamek was the victor. Steve Weisfeld and Joe Pasquale both saw the fight 116-112 (8 rounds to 4), while Alan Rubenstein turned in a stunner of a scorecard that gave Adamek the fight 119-109, or 11 rounds to 1.
But the story of this bout concerned an injury that Chambers suffered to his left arm in round one. It changed the course of the fight almost as soon as it began, leaving Chambers a one-armed warrior for the remaining 11 rounds, and left most wondering how the fight would have turned out had Chambers been able to use both hands.
In round one, Chambers was having a pretty good round - moving well and tossing an effective jab and occasional right hand at the forward-moving Adamek. With about 30 seconds remaining in the round, Chambers threw a looping left jab at Adamek. The punch never landed, and Chambers immediately pulled his arm back and looked at it. It was a subtle moment, missed by many of the 6,000 or so assembled in the arena, but this was the key moment of the fight - especially for Chambers.
It seems that the awkward punch by Chambers either pulled or tore the biceps muscle of his left arm. After throwing the punch and stepping back from Adamek, Chambers nervously looked down at the painful limb and tested it by briefly straightening it out. The test was interrupted by Adamek, who stepped forward, as he would do all night, and threw a punch.
Chambers looked again, touched the biceps with his right glove, then covered up and moved for the rest of the round. When the bell sounded to end the first, Eddie walked back to his corner rubbing his left arm, as a signal to his team.
At ringside, there was no confirmation of the injury, and I couldn't see if Eddie's corner was working on the arm between rounds. However, once the second round began, it became clear that something was going on.
Chambers bounced out for round two looking as he usually does. However, once it was time for the usually jab-happy boxer to throw that left jab, it never came. Instead, Chambers leaped into a southpaw stance and shot a couple of right jabs at Adamek. And then, before you knew it, he was back in the orthodox stance.
For the remainder of the fight, Chambers never really threw his left jab, or any other punch with that hand. At times he pawed it out there, or fainted with it to set up his straight right, but for eleven more rounds, he never threw another a punch with his left.
What Chambers did was weave a very interesting "Plan B" against Adamek.
The action went back and forth between the two fighters. In general, Chambers blocked or slipped most of Adamek's offense, and landed the cleaner punches himself. He toggled back and forth between right and left-handed stances and made due.
All of Chambers' output came from the right side. He used the left to block some shots and keep up the appearance that he was whole. It wasn't the prettiest thing to watch, but it was compelling - and it was quite effective.
Somehow, Chambers not only persevered in the fight, he managed to out land and out box his opponent. On my scorecard, Chambers won the fight 115-113, or 7-5 in rounds. I wasn't alone. A quick poll of the ringside media produced a mixed opinion, but more than half of them felt Chambers had won, including boxer BJ Flores of the NBC Sports Network broadcasting team.
After a long 16-month layoff (mostly due to other injuries), Chambers once again proved himself to be one of the best heavyweights in the world with this fight, regardless of the decision. Adamek, 35, a former two-time champion in lower weight classes, is still a solid contender as a heavyweight. He looked a little less effective in this fight, but still seems able to give anyone in the division a run for their money. His 46-2 record and top ten ranking assures he will move forward to a bigger fight at this weight.
For Eddie Chambers, 30, the future depends on the severity of his injury. He's only fought three times over the past three years, and doesn't need another layoff. But he clearly has the skills and desire to compete. His performance was terrific. Although he will always be remembered for his title try with Wladimir Klitschko, and his fights with Alexander Dimitrenko and Sam Peter are probably considered his best wins, I would suggest that this fight with Adamek was his finest performance.
In the past, the question with Chambers always centered on whether his skills would be enough to overcome his size limitations as a heavyweight. He has shown himself in the past, but was never tested the way this fight tested him. Chambers passed the test.
Chambers fought a top talent using just one hand, his right. Keep in mind that in every other fight he's had, Chambers' best weapon - and perhaps 75% of his game - has been his left jab. He fought Adamek without that jab, and if you ask me, he beat him.
Chambers was gutsy and resourceful in the fight. He composed this unlikely performance with not only a major physical deficit, he did it in front of a loud and loyal crowd of Adamek fans. Talk about having your back against the wall.
I've always liked Eddie and believed him to be a good fighter, but against Adamek, I was really impressed by him. He clearly still has a future, even though his career depended on, and desperately needed, this win.
At 202 pounds, it seems obvious that Chambers, 36-3, could trim another 32 ounces from his body and dominate the cruiserweight division, but my face has turned blue beating that dead horse.
In any case, I'll be very interested when Chambers returns, and I'll be hoping he gets another shot at an important fight.
In the 10-round co-feature, North Philly's Bryant Jennings won another nationally televised fight, this one against Steve Collins of Houston, TX. The Philadelphian dominated the action against the game but out-gunned Collins, once again boosting his suddenly hot career before the entire nation.
Has any other Philly fighter had a better 2012 than Jennings? He is certainly the heavyweight of the moment, winning his last three fights against his three best opponents, all on the "Fight Night" series. The sudden exposure has also allowed Jennings to reveal his personality and intelligence, which has among other things, won him fans and landed him as a contributor to the NBCSN broadcasts.
Jennings ended 2011 as an unknown 6-round local prospect. But in the last six months, after grabbing every opportunity to come anywhere near him, he's elevated himself to contender status with a real future in the big time. Freddie Roach recently called him the best American heavyweight prospect, and others have begun mentioning his name as a title challenger of the near future.
Given his sudden celebrity status, it might be easy for fans to feel disappointed by Jennings' rout of Collins, which was less exciting than his previous two starts - especially his TKO of former champ Sergei Liakhovich in March. But this victory over Collins by the still-learning 14-bout pro, was still quite impressive.
Jennings won every round on the scorecards of the three official judges, Kason Cheeks, Lynn Carter and Ron McNair, and took home the USBA heavyweight title in the process. This means Jennings will land in the top-ten rankings of the IBF in the next ratings book.
After a quiet start, Jennings began teeing off on Collins in round three. He landed several thudding shots, the showiest of which was his right uppercut which snapped Collins' head upward a few times in the round. But Collins fought back. When the Texan whacked Jennings with a good right hand, Bryant, who often has trouble not talking, couldn't help commenting on the blow with a loud "Wooooo".
In round four, Jennings landed a bruising combination - led by a potent right uppercut - that staggered Collins into the ropes. Referee Lindsey Page called it a knockdown, since the ropes kept Collins from hitting the floor. Collins survived, but all three judges gave Jennings a two-point margin in the round.
In the fifth, Jennings swung for the fences and applied tons of pressure. However, Collins proved tough enough to endure the storm. Jennings kept punching, but seemed a bit sluggish or tired in the final few rounds.
By the end of the fight, Collins' left eye had been battered closed, but he was still on his feet, despite the punishment Jennings had dished out.
All three judges scored the bout 100-89 for Jennings. I gave Collins, 25-2 (18 KO), one round, for a score of 99-90 in favor of Jennings, 14-0 (6 KO). The fight opened the TV portion of the card.
Also televised was an 8-round junior middleweight bout between Philly's Jamaal Davis and Doel Carrasquillo of Lancaster. Davis used excellent movement along with a sharp left jab to win the unanimous decision, in perhaps the best performance of his career.
Carrasquillo is a tough, hard-hitting upset specialist, who is dangerous as long as he is still standing. Davis could not take Doel out, but he did manage to control most of the action. When he boxed, Davis looked terrific. At times, he'd lose focus and allow Carrasquillo to close the gap between them, but Davis stayed out of trouble and kept the jab in his opponents face.
Judges Joe Pasquale and John Stewart scored the fight for Davis 78-74 (6-2 in rounds), while Eugenia Williams gave Davis seven rounds for a 79-73 score. I had it a bit closer at 77-75. The win improved Davis' record to 14-8-1 (6 KO), and left Carrasquillo 16-20-1 (14 KO).
The remainder of the card was filled out by six and four round preliminary bouts.
Middleweight Tureano Johnson opened the show with a six round unanimous decision over Roberto Yong. All three judges scored the fight 58-56, to keep Johnson's undefeated record intact.
Jose Peralta stopped Dontre King at 2:28 of round four of their scheduled six round welterweight bout. Peralta dropped King in round three and again in the following round before earning the TKO from referee Eddie Cotton.
Heavyweight Patrick Farrell knocked down Philly's David Williams in round two, and went on to win a unanimous four round decision. The scores were 39-36 and 40-35 twice.
Newark's undefeated John Thompson won a six round unanimous decision over southpaw John Mackey in a middleweight fight, by scores of 59-55 twice, and 58-56.
The fight card was promoted by Main Events and was the fourth installment of NBC Sports Network's Fight Night series. The series returns September 21st.