Disregarding Boxing's Heavyweight Division By Mike Cassell, Doghouse Boxing (Feb 16, 2011) Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
I am not going to imply that heavyweight “Fast” Eddie Chambers (36 -2 18 KO’s) is the best Heavyweight in the World. I will however argue that he may be the best Heavyweight in North America, and our own media, mainly television, has done little to nothing to further his cause.
I understand how dominate the Klitschko Brothers are right now in the Heavyweight division, but those who disregard the past, are doomed to repeat it, with interest. Let’s rewind back a few years. Although he won the WBO version of the heavyweight title in 2000, by April 2004, “Dr. Steel Hammer” Wladimir Klitschko (55-3 49 KO’s) was seen as a glass jawed, oversized “Ivan Drago” wanna be, who was knocked out by three journeyman heavyweights. The first was Ross Purity, and then two more times in four fights by Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster. By American standards, if he had been an American Heavyweight, you may not have heard from him for a very long while, if at all. He was however able to rebound, through a tremendous publicity onslaught, that enabled him put himself firmly on top of the division. He also hired an American trainer that taught him how to throw a jab properly. Wladimir and his older brother Vitali, own the heavyweight division right now and although most regular fans missed it here in America, it was the media in Europe and the coverage of their fights that brought them both back.
Vitali Klitschko sat on his butt for almost four years and got a “televised” title shot with his first fight back. Some of the fights with both brothers were out-right horrible, but at least European boxing fans got to follow them and make up their own minds. To the fans, watching their hero knock the living hell out of American fighters was more than enough to keep them coming back, regardless of the opposition.
The greatest quote about the lack of great American Heavyweights is regurgitated over and over again by boxing writers and broadcasters alike. The quote goes something like this. “We have a bunch of Heavyweights in America, but they are all playing linebacker in the NFL.” That sounds great, and it can be misinterpreted as the truth, when you see tremendous Athletes like Ray Lewis and Julius Peppers stuffing the run and laying quarterbacks to waste on television every weekend. But the fact of the matter is, many former college and pro football players failed miserably when they tried to make that transition to boxing. These were pampered coddled athletes, and in the fighting sports it takes a different kind of man to step into the ring. They played football, you don’t play boxing. You either live it, or walk away. The real problem is the same media that is spewing this misconception, is the same media that seems to be taking the path of least resistance when it comes to properly televising the American Heavyweight division. They want to pay their bills with the lighter weight divisions, because the fighters are more recognizable. The lightweights, the welterweights, and the middleweights are getting tremendous press because they have big time promoters and big time money behind them. Top Rank and Golden Boy are juggernauts in promoting, and have been riding the waves of the lower weight classes for years. How many Heavyweights are even with the Americas biggest boxing promoters? The answer is a staggering three. Golden Boy promotions have just three Heavyweights, one of which is David Haye (and in my opinion he doesn’t count since he will not fight anybody). Top Rank has 0.
TOP OF THE WORLD MA…..Until about 1991.
Not too long ago, the heavyweight division didn’t just rule the boxing world. It ruled the sports world. It was an incredibly powerful position to be in to be the promoter of the world’s heavyweight champion. You called all the shots. You were adorned by celebrities, politicians and athletes from other “lesser” sports at the time like baseball and football. Your fighter was the emperor of masculinity, and you decided when, where, and who he fought. It wasn’t about fighting on television; it was about picking the most lucrative deal. As a promoter you had to be dealt with as if you were a king or foreign dignitary. The Heavyweight division as we knew it, ended in 1991 when Mike Tyson’s reign ended after he was knocked out by journeyman James Buster Douglas, and was subsequently sent to prison not too long after for rape. There had been some entertaining fights since then, but they have been too far and between to build a boxing fan base for the dying glamour division. After the exit of Mike Tyson, some promoters thought they could give us garbage, even with his return in 1995. But those same promoters that wielded all the power when they had it, forget about how they treated everybody on the way up. And when the heavyweight pickings got slim, fans and media alike turned away from the division gradually but eventually altogether.
People stood in line, paid millions for pay per-view; to watch what they all knew was going to be a two or three round knockout when Mike Tyson was in a fight. From January of 1988 to February of 1990, Mike Tyson fought five times and averaged less than three rounds a fight. They still paid to see him, because no heavyweight in modern history had ever been publicized as much as "Iron" Mike Tyson. They advertised him as inhuman, an unstoppable beast of a fighter. Turned out he was just a very flawed human being. Today, most American heavyweight championship fights don’t even make it to the internet. The lessons that should have been learned are, Mike Tyson, the fighter didn’t make boxing, boxing made Mike Tyson the fighter. But most importantly, televised boxing made him. The sport always seems to organize when there is a reason to do it, and fall apart when there seemingly isn’t. I believe there are plenty of reasons to try, but it can’t start when media outlets like HBO and SHOWTIME do not broadcast good heavyweight fights.
THE NETWORK SHORT SALE.
HBO dumped their time and money into Mexican American heavyweight Chris Arreola when he fought Vitali Klitschko back in 2009. That decision was misguided and short sited at best. HBO would have been better off if they actually televised American heavyweight Eddie Chambers going to Germany and dropping undefeated Sasha Dimitrenko 29 0 two times as he went on to certain victory. Americans needed to see that. Instead that got a crying Chris Arreola, who couldn’t help but drop the “F” bomb about thirty times, showing the rest of the world how classy we Americans really are. The big media outlets dropped the ball in this case, and you only have to do it a few times a year to sink a division that is taking a standing 8 count as it is.
I am from Philadelphia, so I have to use Heavyweight “Fast” Eddie Chambers as an example. Last week Showtime Boxing broadcasted two fights, one was a laughable first round knockout between Super middleweight Don George who was pummeled in his last fight, and an undefeated fighter in Cornelius White who has done absolutely nothing to warrant a television appearance, unless you consider being used as raw meat as a prerequisite. Then they broadcasted a competitive, bantamweight fight featuring Rico Ramos, a rising young star who might have deserved undercard consideration for this night of fights, but ending up snagging the main event. Did I fail to mention the IBF heavyweight title eliminator bout between Eddie Chambers (35-2, 18 KOs), of Philadelphia, and, Derric Rossy (25-2, 14 KOs), of Medford, N.Y.? That’s ok, so neither did Showtime. Not even a highlight reel. Really? Chambers has beaten Rossy before, but Rossy had racked up a string of seven wins straight and wanted vengeance on Chambers, but would have even who knew that? Chambers is not the biggest strongest or most exciting heavyweight in the world, but he is American, and his record deserves at least a highlight reel.
In this face paced, real time, twitter laden world, Snookie and Lindsey Lohan get more press in one day for doing pretty much nothing, then a decent hardworking world class American heavyweight fighter like Chambers will get in a year, win or lose. He also just happens to be a pretty good fighter too. Maybe he needs to beat up a few security guards, snort coke on You Tube, or steal some cell phones from an old girlfriend, who really knows. But maybe it’s time for the president of HBO and Showtime to actually get together and do some homework on some styles match ups. It’s called work guys. We all do it all year along, as so do these fighters. Take some pride in your job and show the rest of the world what good American heavyweight boxing is again. As I write this, there is some kid out there looking for his dare to be great situation. He is not in the NFL; he just doesn’t have a decent American heavyweight division to come to. Give him a reason to want to be here, or is that view from the ivory tower so far and high that you really just can’t see the obvious?