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For his entire career, Eddie Chambers always has been smaller than his opponents, sometimes dramatically so, yet he still was good enough to earn a shot at the heavyweight championship when he faced Wladimir Klitschko as a mandatory challenger in 2010.
Despite being 5 inches shorter and being outweighed by 35 pounds (244 to 209), Chambers lasted into the 12th round before the powerful Klitschko knocked him out with five seconds left in the fight.
Now, for the first time, Chambers will hold a decided advantage over his next opponent because after years as a top heavyweight contender, the 6-foot-1 Chambers is moving down to the 200-pound cruiserweight division for his next fight against 5-8 Thabiso Mchunu of South Africa. They will meet in a scheduled 10-round bout on Aug. 3 on a "Fight Night" card (NBC Sports Network) at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn., promoter Main Events announced Wednesday.
In the main event, Brooklyn, N.Y., middleweight Curtis Stevens (24-3, 17 KOs), who recently dropped down in weight from super middleweight, will face Saul Roman (37-9, 31 KOs) of Mexico in a scheduled 10-rounder.
In another 10-rounder, New Jersey-based heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek (48-2, 29 KOs), a hero in his native Poland, will have his first fight since re-signing with Main Events. Adamek's opponent has not been determined.
Chambers (36-3, 18 KOs) will be fighting for the first time in 14 months. Last June, he lost a controversial 12-round decision to Adamek despite suffering a torn left biceps in the first round, an injury that kept him from training for seven months. Chambers, 31, of Philadelphia, said his goal is to win a world title at cruiserweight and use it as a springboard to getting another shot at a heavyweight title.
"The cruiserweight division doesn't get much credit and I'm not a superstar in the sport," Chambers told ESPN.com. "There's not a whole lot of people that know me, but in my career I believe I have done a lot. I fought for the world title in the heavyweight division, and this move is about wanting to get a world title around my waist. I really want to have that strap. It's been a long time coming. I'm not going to say it's going to be easy, but I'll be fighting guys my own size. Being a world champion maybe isn't as big of a deal at cruiserweight as it is at heavyweight, but it is something I'm eagerly anticipating.
"I'm not looking at the cruiserweight division as an end all for me. I still want to be heavyweight champion of the world and I still have a lot left in the tank, but there's a logjam with the Klitschko brothers being so dominant and other guys who don't want to fight. What I'm trying to do is find a way to shake something up -- go down to cruiserweight, win some titles, get people interested and then I'm ready to go back to heavyweight."
Main Events promoter Kathy Duva endorsed Chambers' decision to move down in weight, saying his power will be better against smaller opponents while his speed and skills will remain the same.
"I don't think there is a cruiserweight in the world who beats Eddie Chambers," she said. "I think he's going to dominate the cruiserweight division. He'll still be the fastest man in the ring and, perhaps, the biggest puncher. I don't know who could beat him.
"He has been in with a handicap at heavyweight with almost everybody he fought and he still competed and beat guys, even knocked out big guys, like [Alexander] Dimitrenko [in a world title elimination bout]. So I think he'll own this weight class. This fight is to get his feet wet, let him see what it's like to fight somebody his own size. His problem up until now is that as well as he did, he was in the wrong weight class."
The bulk of the cruiserweight world title action is in Europe with fighters such as Marco Huck and Yoan Pablo Hernandez of Germany and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk of Poland holding belts. Chambers said he'd be happy to travel there again to face any of them.
"I'd go at the drop of a hat," he said. "I'm in a situation now where I want to have meaningful fights. I'm trying to get fights to put me in position to be a world champion."
Mchunu (13-1, 10 KOs), 24, a muscular southpaw who will be fighting outside of South Africa for the first time, is unknown outside of his country. But he has caught Chambers' attention with a slew of nasty taunts toward him on Twitter.
"There's not a whole lot [of footage] to watch on him, but I've seen some things," Chambers said. "To be honest, he looks a bit ordinary. Some of the clips I've seen he did some good things, but against what competition? But for the first time maybe ever I'm fighting somebody shorter than me."
Duva said she re-signed Adamek, a former light-heavyweight and cruiserweight titleholder who is co-promoted by Ziggy Promotions, last month. Main Events and Adamek have worked together since 2008.
Since getting stopped in the 10th round of a world title fight by Vitali Klitschko in Poland in 2011, Adamek has won four consecutive fights, including the controversial decision against Chambers and another debatable decision in a rematch with Steve Cunningham in December. After that fight, Adamek became a free agent. He gave up a shot to fight Kubrat Pulev in a title eliminator, believing he had a big-money deal from a European promoter for a fight against a lesser opponent in Poland. But that didn't pan out, so, after shopping around for deals elsewhere, he returned to Main Events.
"We had a great relationship with Tomasz for a long time, but sometimes there is a tendency for people to think that the grass is greener somewhere else," Duva said. "When our last deal expired he went out to test the waters and we wished him well. He was welcome to come back any time.
"He found out that the grass wasn't greener, and he came back. We'll keep working with him, hopefully, for the rest of his career. We've had a nice run."