American fight fans needed to be blessed with a personality bordering on the absurdly optimistic if they looked forward to the Wladimir Klitschko/Eddie Chambers title fight in Dusseldorf on Saturday, and gave the undersized American more than a snowball's chance in hell of dethroning the WBO/IBF champion.
Chambers came in to ESPRIT Arena outweighed by 35 pounds, but red, white and blue rooters who ached for a release of the stranglehold the Klitschko brothers have on the heavyweight division hoped that his pugilism skills would be enough to propel him to an upset of immense proportions.
They will have to keep on aching, and in fact, might well want to wave the white flag of surrender, and simply root for the Brothers K to retire, before a Yank is able to once again strap a heavyweight belt around his waist. Over 12 one-sided rounds, Chambers had about the same luck as everyone else as had since Wladimir last lost, back in 2004 to Lamon Brewster, which is to say, very little. Klitschko (244 3/4 pounds) turned up the gas on the Pennsylvania almost-cruiserweight in the last round, and with a sharp, quick left hook, stopped the 209 1/2 pound challenger with just five seconds to go in the scrap. The ref didn't even bother counting, and those in attendance worried for the American as he took several minutes to get his senses.
The 33-year-old Ukrainian went to 54-3 and notched his 48th KO. Chambers, age 27, went to 35-2. The victory functioned as an early birthday gift; the younger Klitschko turns 35 on March 25. Brother Vitali, who holds the WBC belt, is 38.
It wasn't just a weight disparity that hampered Chambers; he gave away five inches or so to the 6-6 1/2 Klitschko, who used his superior jab to keep the loser at bay. That jab is something that a foe doesn't fully respect til he tastes it. The ever-focused Ukrainian uses it like a bayonet, as a soldier would a POW. He holds it out there, launches it, and keeps it erect as a reminder and deterrent.
Klitschko fought for the first time in ten months, and he's looked sharper. But his left hand at the end of the 12th, which maybe landed on the temple, and sent Chambers to the mat face-first like he'd been zapped with a stun gun, made up for the rust.
What's next? He and his brother will see how the April 3rd David Haye-John Ruiz beef plays out; both hope WBA champ Haye beats the pesky Ruiz, and both will volunteer to shut up the trash-talking Brit for a year's worth of insults. Vitali (39-2) figures to have zero trouble in his May 29 scheduled defense against C level Pole Albert Sosnowski (45-2), but it's looking like little brother will get first crack at remedying Hayes' disrespect. Wlad has a mandatory with IBF No. 1 Alexander Povetkin on tap, but it remains to be seen whether Team Povetkin will lobby hard for that ASAP, or let their guy develop with Teddy Atlas some more, and take some step aside many in the meantime...
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV