Eddie Chambers Does Enough To Beat Sam Peter, But Not Enough To Shut Up The Talk About Him Not Doing Enough

It could have been worse, it could have been better. In the ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” main event, Eddie Chambers won on two judges’ scorecards and drew with Samuel Peter on the other. It was, I thought, a decently paced, reasonably crisp battle for heavyweights, but I got the impression that if either man had just upped his work rate a little better, he would have won rather definitively.

I had Chambers winning by the same margin as one of the judges — 99-91 — but there were a lot of rounds that weren’t easy to score in there. I get why it was closer on some of the other scorecards. Peter was always the one moving forward, always landing the heavier blows, while Chambers mostly counterpunched, always landing the sharper blows.

After, Chambers acknowledged he didn’t do enough, but he’s been acknowledging that for a while. He only deserves so much credit for honesty until he fixes it. I hadn’t raised as many questions about his weight — 223, one of his highest — as I had about Peter’s, who came in at a career high 265. But he looked flabby. Chambers blamed Peter’s counter shots for his inability to stay on the attack, but I didn’t think Peter countered much at all. I blame Chambers’ gut. This pace question — the one that has dogged his career — didn’t go away in a must-win fight, so it’s worth wondering whether it ever will.

Fortunately for Chambers, he’s fast enough, skilled enough and was svelte enough compared to Peter to get the job done. Peter demonstrated flashes of the boxing skill he’d shown at moments in the past, working the jab against Chambers fairly effectively early on. Then he was panting. When Peter was on the attack, he was doing all right. When Chambers was on the attack, Peter just stood there and got punched. The frustrating thing about Chambers’ performance was that if ever he wanted to really turn it on, Peter was a low-risk target with which to adopt that approach. Chambers’ jab was very effective, but he didn’t follow it up with enough well-placed straight rights or much of anything else. If he had, he might have knocked out Peter or won 99-91 across the board.

For a moderately well-contested event, it was somewhat disappointing. Peter at a mere 28 may physically have it in him to mount another run, but he appears to lack the desire. Chambers, at 26, has the physical abilities and skill level to beat any heavyweight not named “Klitschko,” but has the mentality to leave himself open to defeats that he shouldn’t suffer, too.

In other FNF action:

–2008 super middleweight Olympian Shawn Estrada scored a 1st round knockout that was fishy, to say the least. Two of the three knockdowns he scored came after Estrada failed to land a punch. Given how tomato canny his opponent looked, maybe you can blame that on lack of coordination and cuffing blows felling him. But his opponent acted like he was really hurt. He couldn’t have been. I’ve seen fights where it was later revealed that the opponent took a dive, and they looked like this. I don’t see any reason Estrada would need any assistance like that against an opponent of such low caliber — there’s fighting soft opposition to start and then there’s fighting guys who should never, ever fight a former Olympian — so maybe the tomato can was hoping to avoid prolonged punishment?

–Contrast that with the gutty showing of lightweight prospect John Molina’s opponent for the night, who gets his name mentioned based on his showing alone: Carlos Vinan Soto. The guy has one knockout and goes 1-3-3 in his last seven fights, and he charges at the giant power punching lightweight like he’s trying to take him out in the 1st round. He threw 131 punches in that round. It was foolish on many levels — he tired himself out, he got bloodied up with counters — but smart on some, like the notion that he should smother the longer-armed fighter. I didn’t realize beforehand that Molina was in against such an unqualified opponent, record- and achievement-wise, but Vinan Soto sure made as much of a fight out of it as he could. Molina got hit too much, which suggests his much-touted emphasis on defense isn’t a finished work yet, But he hits hard, he fights hard, he’s got personality, and he took out his man in the 2nd round.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.