In order to get a shot at Wladimir Klitschko, heavyweight young lions Alexander Povetkin and Eddie Chambers will have to go through one another tonight. Their eliminator bout, the final of a four-man tournament, airs on HBO's Boxing After Dark. The broadcast begins at 10pm eastern with the replay of Jones-Trinidad preceding the bout.
Povetkin came in at 227 pounds, with the American Chambers at 219 1/2. For Povetkin, it's consistent with his normal fighting weight. But for "Fast" Eddie, the 219 1/2 pounds is the most he's weighed on the official scales since 2004, when he was at 224 to face tomato can Louis Monaco at the Blue Horizon in his backyard in Philadelphia.
Chambers (30-0, 16 KO) beat former Klitschko challenger Calvin Brock in November in the first leg of the elimination process, just a few days after Povetkin (14-0, 11 KO) dominated ex-champion Chris Byrd in Germany. Tonight's fight will take place in Berlin, which will give Povetkin some home field advantage; the 2004 Olympic gold medalist has fought all but two of his pro bouts in Germany, while Chambers is making his first trip overseas.
The celebrated Russian is a heavy favorite, at -700 on some sportsbooks. His manhandling of Byrd, which came after a 10-round sweep of veteran fringe contender Larry Donald, has shot his stock up from prospect to legit contender after just 14 pro fights. Meanwhile, Chambers' win over Brock was a split decision, he's not as heavy-handed, and I even felt he struggled against Dominick Guinn last May, which was, to be fair, somewhat because it was the best Guinn has fought in years.
But for both guys, this is a coming out party. Chambers has been featured on Shobox before, but never has he headlined an HBO card, even a Boxing After Dark -- I'm not trying to insult Showtime here, but I think we can all agree that B.A.D. is a more prestigous series than Shobox. As for Povetkin, this is his American TV debut. The Americans get to see arguably their best bet to win heavyweight gold. Plus, they get to take a look at the most heralded young heavyweight in the sport, most of them seeing him for the very first time.
As far as a prediction goes, I have to favor Povetkin. He's got the natural talent to be the best in the world, though I think better conditioning wouldn't hurt. I'm not saying fighters need to be chiseled like Mike Tyson or anything stupid like that, but the amount of baby fat still on Povetkin is pretty noticeable. Chambers is hardly cut, either, but he seems to carry it a little better.
Give me Povetkin, and give it to me via TKO in the later rounds. Chambers is a fine boxer, but Povetkin has more skill than Chambers has seen. Calvin Brock is a fine fighter, but in a more workman-like manner than somebody like Povetkin. The Olympian is smart, never gets overanxious, and has power in both hands. Chambers will need to move a lot to win this fight. Though mobility is his best asset, I don't think he has enough of it for this matchup.
I'll be watching and scoring the fight tonight, and it's not live here so please don't spoil the outcome for anyone that's planning to watch on HBO.
Photo © Jan Sanders/HBO