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BILL DWYRE

It's still slow going for heavyweights

Quick-hitting Eddie Chambers' split-decision win over plodding Samuel Peter at Nokia Theatre does little to boost the fortunes of the all-but-dormant division.

March 28, 2009|BILL DWYRE

On a Nokia Theatre stage where the performers are expected to entertain at a high level, heavyweights Eddie Chambers and Samuel Peter did a little of that Friday night. One might argue the "high level" part.

But if the cozy crowd in the theater seating was expecting to witness the resurrection of the long-buried heavyweight division, it certainly went away disappointed.

Chambers won the 10-round fight in a split decision that was hard to argue. Actually, a good argument could be made that the decision should have been unanimous. Chambers was the puncher and scorer, Peter the plodder and lunger. The best punches Peter landed were to the gloves of Chambers.

Peter, 28, entered the match with a 30-2 record and 23 knockouts. Chambers, 26, was 33-1 with 18 knockouts.

Peter also entered the ring after having weighed in Thursday at 265 pounds, leading to the fear that were Chambers to land a solid body punch, he might not get his hand back. Chambers weighed in at 223 and it is fair to say that neither man would have fit the description of "sculpted."

Chambers won by having quicker hands and feet and snapping away with one jab after another as Peter plodded forward. This one amounted to the sweet science beating the big bomber.

"The jab worked great," Chambers said. "I slipped his punches, worked for it. I also jabbed a lot to his body. I had him leery of that."

That had clearly been the game plan of the Chambers camp -- maybe the only hope -- against Peter's plod-forward-and-throw-big-bombs attack.

"A lot of people didn't think a puncher could hold off a big, strong guy like that," Chambers said, "but I proved I could."

Peter's nickname is the "Nigerian Nightmare," and had it not been for Chambers' sweet display of boxing skills, this night might have turned into ESPN's Nightmare. Plodding 265-pound boxers whose bombs connect infrequently do not hold large TV audiences.

Peter started his athletic career as a soccer player, but now he looks more like someone who ate Beckham than someone who could emulate him.

Chambers, who once described himself as a passive kid from Pittsburgh, moved and stung and let his hands go fluidly. He even showed a nice knack for using the ropes to go from defense to offense in a split second.

He also has an understanding of the ongoing problems in boxing's heavyweight division, one dominated for the last several years by the Klitschko brothers from Ukraine and a 7-foot Russian who makes Shaq look like a sprinter.

"We heavyweights are the biggest guys," Chambers said in a 2007 interview with a Philadelphia website. "The United States wants us to dominate in everything. We are in a dry spell, and that makes it tough."

The dry spell continued Friday night.

The best U.S. hope may be one shared by Mexico. Huge-hitting Cristobal Arreola, who has been brought along slowly by Dan Goossen and his Goossen Tutor Promotions, will be part of the April 11 Paul Williams-Winky Wright show in Las Vegas. Arreola, who lives in Riverside, will fight Jameel McCline, a New Yorker who has been near the top of the heavyweight ranks for some time now and lost a 12-round decision to Peter in 2007.

There has never been a Mexican-American heavyweight champion, and Arreola's marketability, were he to get there, would be big.

One judge had the main event at 95-95, the other two 96-94 and 99-91 for Chambers.

The undercard of glaring mismatches featured one bright moment and several others of high comedy.

The bright moment was the performance of high school senior Javier Molina. The 19-year-old, who missed school time while competing at the Beijing Olympics and is finishing up now at John Glenn High in Commerce, made his pro debut against Jaime Cabrera of Alhambra, also making his pro debut. In the 145-pound fight, Molina put down the former mixed martial arts fighter with a nice left uppercut, after dominating and showing speed and skill unusual for his level of experience.

The comedy came in the other undercard fights, where several obvious setups were fed to Goossen proteges John Molina and Shawn Estrada. Each time, the setups had a corner man who called himself Repo Ric and put it on his T-shirt. Repo Ric, pony tail and all, actually went 0 for 3 for the night, twice wearing a red fuzzy tam and once a white fuzzy tam.

Had it not been for Chambers' lightning jab and nice boxing lesson against Peter, Repo Ric would have stolen the show.

--

bill.dwyre@latimes.com

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