'Fight Night' can reintroduce heavyweight division, starting with Tomasz Adamek vs. Eddie Chambers

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports

It's hardly a state secret that there is no legitimate threat to brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko for the position of best heavyweight boxers in the world.

The Klitschkos have squashed every conceivable contender by the widest margins imaginable. If it were football, they'd be winning games by scores of 56-0 every time out.

They have all but rendered the division meaningless. Promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events intends to change that, and she's the first to admit she has a massive challenge ahead.

If she refuses to accept mediocrity, however, her plan might work. 

Duva's "Fight Night" series on the NBC Sports Network, which on Saturday features Eddie Chambers against Tomasz Adamek in the main event at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., aims to develop a stable of heavyweight contenders.

"We want to bring in the casual fan, not just the diehards, and working with heavyweights is a good way to do that," she said. "The casual fans are fascinated by them."

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Those casual fans are only fascinated, though, if the fights are consistently entertaining. There have been far too many dreadful heavyweight bouts on television – anyone remember Bermane Stiverne against Ray Austin or Chris Byrd against DaVarryl Williamson? – and those kinds of bouts are not only unhelpful, but are actively harmful to the sport.

So, Duva has spread the word among the fighters and their managers: You'll get a chance to fight on national television, but you have to actually fight.

She promises to have a quick hook. If a guy lays an egg, she vows he won't be back on the NBC Sports Network.

The burden is on the fighters to put on a show. If they don't, the burden switches to Duva. She has to back her words and not tolerate anything less than a first-rate effort.

"The heavyweight division, we have found a nice space here," Duva said. "There are a lot of fighters who really want to fight each other. They've expressed that desire and they want to work with us. My mind is boggled all of the interesting fights we can make in that division. … We want fighters who will take risks, who will fight, and who will try to seize an opportunity. It's very different than the scenario that happens too much when a promoter or a television executive decides in advance that a guy is a star and then tries to make it happen.

"We're saying to these guys, 'We're going to give you an opportunity. You go out and win your fight. You go out and win the crowd. If you achieve that, then you'll be a star.' It's simple, but it's often overlooked, that the fans ultimately decide who the stars are."

Adamek, a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight champion, hasn't become a star in the U.S., though he's a major star in his native Poland. But he's begun to develop a following in Newark, where he's fought frequently on Duva-promoted cards, and fans who have seen him realize he's one of the game's most entertaining fighters.

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He proved that at light heavyweight in a pair of outstanding fights with Paul Briggs and hasn't stopped.

He was far too small and got manhandled by Vitali Klitschko in Poland last year, but except for age, he fits the profile of what Duva is looking to do with the series on NBC. He's willing to fight anyone anywhere and when he fights, he actually fights. He's a puncher, not a dancer.

"I like the tough fights because you get out of it what you put in," Adamek said. "People will want to watch if you make an effort and give them a show."

Chambers, who was brutally knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in the waning seconds of the 12th round of their title bout last year, insists he'll fight with a sense of urgency.

They're two of the top 10 or 12 heavyweights in the world, but they each need to win if they hope to remain in the title picture. As improbable as it sounds given the way they were beaten by the Klitschko brothers, neither Chambers nor Adamek is out of the mix for another shot.

A win on national television, particularly in entertaining style, would go a long way toward helping them make their case.

"I think Tomasz and I are both in the same situation, where we can't afford to take a loss," Chambers said. "I have great motivation. I'm not ready to walk away at this point. And so I know, this is the kind of risky fight I had to take and I have to win."

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