The much-avoided 'Fast' Eddie Chambers
I’ve always liked Eddie Chambers, even before I realised I could whip on friends by using his character on a computer game. He is a lingering echo of the days before the 'Super Heavyweights'. At six feet one inch tall, he’s never been the big guy, but now - in the days of the really BIG guys like Wladimir Klitschko, Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, and Deontay Wilder - Eddie is plying a trade with the odds stacked against him from the start. His quick hands are his saving grace. And everyone likes to see a heavyweight with quick hands - it’s a bit like watching a wolverine take on a 600lb Kodiak bear. You never forget that kind of interaction between speed and mass.
His fight against Tomasz Adamek (see video) is one of the best displays of boxing with one arm I’ve ever seen and I still have to be reminded he lost on points. But after losing his next fight to Thabiso Mchunu in a badly judged move down to cruiserweight, many wondered where he would go from there. I know I did.
But fate is a funny thing. Eddie was booked as a sparring partner by Team Fury as part of the preparation for the David Haye fight that never was and found he really hit it off with Peter, Tyson, and the rest of the team. He joined them without hesitation and immediately moved to their training camp in Cannes, then onto the UK, and embarked on a one-year, five fight unbeaten run. This was a comeback with a purpose, but since his defeat of Dorian Darch in late November last year all has been quiet. I feared the worst. Had Eddie’s 41-4 (22 KOs) career finally stalled and, at 33, had he decided to call time on 15 years of professional boxing? I rang him, with my fingers crossed that I was wrong.
“What's the opponent situation?”
“Man, it’s difficult right now. I’m a risky guy to fight. Everyone is protecting their stats and it’s been really hard to find someone who’ll take a fight with me, especially if we’re not talking mega-money. Losing a rating is scary for people.”
“So have you got someone lined up?”
“There is something, and someone we’re working on at the moment, it’s close, and it’s exciting but I can’t let you in on it just yet. Hopefully we can make this fight. And I’m absolutely still one hundred percent with Team Fury. We’re moving forward and there is a lot going on behind the scenes. Money is the thing though.”
“Are you saying money is ruining the sport?”
“Yes! Absolutely! Look at MMA right now. Every one of their top fighters has at least one loss on their record but they all fight each other; they want to get better, to be elite at what they do. In boxing, it’s not like that. New fighters are guided away from guys like me who will give them a hard time, and new fighters don’t learn as a consequence. Then one day they find themselves further down their career with a good fighter and they don’t have the experience to deal with it and their brain thinks ‘Holy Crap! I don’t like this at all!’ We need to test new fighters rather than protecting them from learning, just for the sake of money. There’s a lot of great talent out there – new talent too – but it needs to be allowed to grow.”
“So you believe the sport is healthy?”
“Yessir! Even though I’ve read some guys writing that boxing is dying, they are wrong! That kind of negative publicity doesn’t help but there’s so much to look forward to. I mean, when Wladimir retires you just watch the heavyweight division get kicked wide open. Man, there’ll be some exciting fights then - fights that I want to be a part of. Then you’ve got Floyd and Manny breaking box office records, and loads of young guys with real talent coming through at all weights.”
“Your plan is to aim for a title again?”
“Absolutely! I’ve been a pro for a long time now and luckily I haven’t taken too many heavy shots. I’ve still got my faculties, I’m still lucid, and I’m thankful for it. I still believe I can make the top again and win a world title.”
“Looks like Tyson is next up for Wladimir. You’ve fought one of them and sparred extensively with the other, who wins?”
“I favour Tyson, and that’s not just being biased because I know him. He’s a big athletic guy who can move and who can really box. He’s fluid in his movement, too, he’s not mechanical. Wlad is one of the greatest ever but he’s never been in the ring with a guy like Tyson. And Wlad may be a little slower on the trigger nowadays, he may be losing a little of what he had. I’ve been in with both but I really think Tyson has this. His movement is better than people give him credit for, and he’s so tough. I just don’t see Klitschko winning, despite him being a consummate champ.”
“You’ve proved to be a real hit over here, so do you enjoy fighting in the UK?”
“Man, you people know boxing. I mean, you get it, you get what it’s about. I know I’ve done a lot of media work over there, and I’ve enjoyed that, too, but boxing in front of British crowds is great, truly great. For a small country, you know more about boxing than we do in the States. Listen, I hope to be back there soon and doing good things. Boxing is hard, and it’s something I still want to do……unless time is called. And, after all, some things are taken out of our hands aren’t they.”
“You’re back to talking about money again?”
“[Pause] Man, if it wasn’t for money and politics, boxing would be better….and I would be fighting for a title again real soon.”
We arrange to meet when Eddie comes back to the UK, then say goodbye, but I leave the conversation with a slightly sad feeling at such an entertaining fighter having to wait out his precious years in a money-driven limbo. How criminal would it be for ‘Fast Eddie Chambers’ – one of a dying breed of small, fast-handed heavyweights – to simply be consigned to the legacy of a computer game? Very.