I’m an unabashed fan of tart-tongued Brit Simon Cowell, the ego-shredding, delusion-popping ‘American Idol’ judge. TV critics give him flak for being too harsh when sizing up potential candidates to appear on the top-rated Fox variety show. But Lord above, someone has to inject a measure of reality into the lives of these tone-deaf no hopers who harbor pie-in-the-sky dreams of fame and fortune when a career in fast food is their most likely vocational path.
On the Idol audition shows that have aired the last two weeks, Cowell addresses hopefuls (most of them hopeless, some in possession of a fair amount of singing skill.)
He asks them what their intention is, and asks them point blank if they have what it takes to be the next American Idol. This moment can provide some jaw-droppingly jarring TV, when some of the less telegenic and vocally challenged persons answer in the affirmative. But there’s a motive to catty Cowell’s inquisition: he wants to take stock of a potential contestant’s confidence level. He has to determine if they have the self-confidence needed to shrug off the inevitable slings and arrows delivered by the entertainment media, ever more judgmental and demeaning as gossip sites like Perezhilton.com and TMZ.com build traffic.
With Cowell’s methodology fresh in my brain, I got on the horn with Pennsylvania heavyweight Eddie Chambers, who faces off with Long Island’s Derric Rossy on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights tonight (Feb. 9) at 9 PM.
I put it to him point blank, with Cowell-esque brusqueness, but without a faux-Brit accent.
What about it, Eddie Chambers, are you the next American heavyweight Idol?
“I know I have it in me,” he said without a trace of hesitation, thus passing Phase 1 of the TSS audition. “I know I have to work for it but I have it in me. I have that potential. I’m not looking past Rossy, but I’m looking forward to a title shot in 2008.”
Chambers, who has over 80 amateur belts tucked under his belt and is overseen by his dad Eddie Sr., and managed by Rob Murray Sr. and Jr., has a 27-0 mark since turning pro in 2000. His climb has been steady, but he knows the competition hasn’t been upper echelon. Rossy (15-0, 9 KOs) represents a step up for a man whose notable win came over worn-down Ed Mahone, who was 2-6 coming in to the June 2006 scrap. Rossy is well-schooled in the basics, has solid balance and coordination, and went 10 in a grueling test against Shannon Miller—in short, he’s no Mahone.
“Rossy’s a tough guy,” says Chambers, who turns 25 in March. “This fight will be my first fight that will define my career.”
Chambers certainly can’t be lumped into the deluded Idol wannabe pile; the man knows that his development hasn’t been on the fast track. Has he ever been impatient as he took on the usual suspects list of trial horses?
“Sure, sometimes I thought like that, especially with the low paychecks, and I’d think, ‘Throw me in with the big names, I’m ready.’ But I’m not a guy who’s going to demand stuff from my management, and now I’m with Goossen Tutor. I know I haven’t beaten a top 10 guy, I can’t make demands.”
I do believe my guy Cowell would be pleased with that level of humility…
Now, Chambers isn’t in possession of Shavers-type power, obviously, as evidenced by his 15 KOs, and 56% stoppage ratio. He’ll weigh about 215 pounds to take on the beefy ex-footballer Rossy, who played for Boston College, and thus will be outweighed by about 30 pounds. You won’t see Chambers get in to toe-to-toe mode, he says, and play to Rossy’s strength.
“You’re not going to see me do anything crazy to win. I’ll win by decision, or whatever. I’ll fight the way I know how to win. I don’t want to fight his fight.” The added gravity of this being a high profile TV bout, Chambers says, won’t change his gameplan, and turn him into a headhunter.
Phase 2 of the TSS audition takes place at Suffolk Community College, which is on Long Island, so the majority of rooters on site will be Rossy fans. So, Chambers may well have to put on a veritable clinic of pugilism if he wants to go back to PA with a decision win. If he does that, I suspect even surly Simon Cowell would muster some words of praise.