Samuel Peter and Eddie Chambers flew back from Germany with little more than the clothes on their back and a loss on their record. Now they’re fighting in Los Angeles to try and re-ignite their heavyweight careers.
“Don’t fight in Germany,” says Peter.
Both heavyweight contenders suffered a loss in Deutschland and need a win to stay in the world title race when they fight on Friday, March 27 at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The fight promoted by Goossen-Tutor and Duva Promotions will be televised on ESPN.
“Samuel Peter is a good fighter who can punch,” said Chambers (33-1, 18 KOs). “I have to be at my best.”
If you doubt Peter’s ability simply look at the knockdowns he scored against current WBO and IBF titleholder Wladimir Klitschko or the knockout of Oleg Maskaev to win the WBC title. And who can forget one of the most frightening knockouts in heavyweight history when he crunched Jeremy Williams senseless in 2004?
Then along came James “Lights Out” Toney and Peter learned in two fights with the diminutive heavyweight that size doesn’t matter.
“I’d like to thank James Toney who gave me an opportunity to fight him,” said Peter (30-2, 23 KOs), who won by close decision in their first encounter. “Anyone who goes in the ring and has a good record is going to be tough.”
That’s Chambers' cue.
The Philadelphia-based speedster has been relegated to near anonymous status since losing a year ago to Russia’s Alexander Povetkin. Before that, many tabbed him as a younger version of Toney.
“I don’t know what happened to me in that fight,” Chambers said of his loss to Povetkin. “I think I was mentally fatigued or something. It wasn’t physical fatigue.”
Chambers has climbed back to respectability with victories over true heavyweights like Raphael Butler and Cisse Salif. And once again his ability to battle the brutes of the division has attracted curiosity in his ability to fight the behemoths of the heavyweight class.
Boxing fans love an underdog and the sight of little Chambers standing next to the human house of Peter will create an almost comical vision. That is, until the bell rings in the first round.
One thing Peter learned in his two battles with Toney is the importance of punch volume. He needs to throw a waterfall of blows to compensate for the number that will miss or glance off of his opponent’s gloves and shoulders.
Conversely, little Chambers needs to be sharper than ever, lest one of those big Peter mitts knocks him into the next time zone.
“I’m ready,” Chambers says. “I can’t wait.”
The winner of this fight is definitely in the running for a world title shot with one of the three heavyweight world titleholders.
Southern Cal prospects
Three young Southern California hopefuls, including former U.S. Olympians Shawn Estrada and Javier Molina are on the fight card. Also added, newly signed John “Covina Kid” Molina (no relation to Javier Molina) is also taking part in the Nokia Theater fight card.
“I try to stay as busy as possible,” said the hard-hitting John Molina (15-0, 11 KOs), whose last fight took place in February against Kpakpo Allotey and won by third round knockout. Molina faces Carlos Vinan (8-6-3) in a lightweight fight.
Estrada has two fights and two knockouts. He’s been preparing by indulging in sparring wars with a couple of big bombers in junior middleweight contender Alfredo “Perro” Angulo and welterweight contender Roberto “La Amenaza” Garcia. Those guys aren’t afraid of anyone.
Molina, a counter-puncher out of the talented Commerce Boxing Club, is making his debut after spending months learning the pro fighting game.
“I just wanted to make sure he is ready for the pros,” said Roberto Luna his trainer. “It’s totally different from amateurs.”
Tickets are still available at the box office.
Nokia Theater: the new Olympic Auditorium?
Overall, boxing will make a red carpet debut at the Nokia Theater on Friday night.
“It’s got class written all over it,” said Ivaylo Gotzev, Peter’s manager.
It will be the first boxing event ever held at the 8,000-seat complex that’s located across the street from Staples Center. It’s smack dab in the middle of the popular L.A. Live Center that’s reinvigorated the downtown area after decades of neglect.
Dan Goossen, president of Goossen-Tutor Promotions, thinks he’s found the perfect spot to hold boxing events.
“It’s the centerpiece for downtown Los Angeles,” says Goossen, who also opened a new Ontario arena to pro boxing back in November 2008.
Dino Duva, who is co-promoting the event, calls it a beautiful site for the sport.
“It’s going to be an historic venue for boxing,” Duva predicts.
Ironically, the Nokia Theater is located less than a mile from the old boxing palace known as the Olympic Auditorium. Though the building is still standing, it was purchased several years ago and is now a church. Boxing is just a memory there.
During the 1930s to the 1980s, the Olympic Auditorium was jammed packed with people on a weekly basis to see the boxing cards that featured the likes of Henry Armstrong, Art Aragon, Sugar Ray Robinson, Jerry Quarry, Manuel Ortiz and Mando Ramos to name a few.
Though it still held boxing cards well into 2005, the standing room only crowds were scarcely evident. Many called the surrounding area of the Olympic Auditorium seedy and dangerous. Others simply refused to come to the downtown L.A. area, preferring West L.A., Pasadena or the beach areas.
The construction of high rise condos and a large entertainment area known as L.A. Live, has brought the glitter crowd and nearby college and university students to spend week days and weekends in the area located between Figueroa Avenue, Olympic Boulevard and 11th Street in downtown L.A.
Last January 24, more than 20,000 fervent boxing fans who attended the Shane Mosley-Antonio Margarito battle for the welterweight crown discovered a new neon-laced fun zone that sports about 11 sparkling restaurants in a three block radius.
Fights on television
Fri. ESPN2, 7 p.m., Samuel Peter (30-2) vs. Eddie Chambers (33-1)
Sat. pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Julio Cesar Chavez (38-0-1) vs. Luciano Cuello (23-0); Fernando Montiel (38-2-1) vs. Diego Silva (24-1).
Sat. Showtime, 11 p.m., Ronald Hearns (21-0) vs. Harry Yorgey (21-1).
Would you pay to see Manny Pacquiao vs Saul Alvarez?