Why Chris Byrd should fight Wladimir Klitschko

21.02.05 - By Izyaslav ďSlavaĒ Koza: It seems this issue has been butchered back and forth, with King agreeing, Byrd disagreeing to the fight due to the fight location, which Klitschko's camp wants to take place in Germany, and nothing concrete being announced or happening, so I feel I should weigh in with my thoughts. The bout is in the planning for April 16, but there are still a lot of things to be worked out before the fight can take place.. Byrd reportedly doesn't want another fight in Germany, having already fought Wladimir, as well as his brother, Vitali, there. After both bouts, Byrd complained of being sick and suspects that he had been somehow poisoned.

If this fight happens, it will be a rematch of their fight together in October, 2000, which just happened to take place in Germany. Klitschko, easily won the bout, sending Byrd to the canvas two times and winning by unanimous decision with scores, 120-106, 119-107, 118-108.

Chris Byrd is great for the sport of boxing, because frankly, he fights the toughest competition out there, and manages to win most of the time. If the heavyweight division is to be fractured due to boxing politics, I wouldnít be the only one that would want Byrd to hang on to one of the straps, if only for the soul purpose of defending it against tough challenges, and tough challengers.

Byrd is supposed to make a mandatory defense of his title by August against Monte Barrett, who won an IBF eliminator by stopping Owen Beck in the ninth round on Feb. 5th, 2005, but Barrett (31-3, 17 knockouts) suffered a cut in that fight, which could delay their fight.

Letís face it, Monte Barrett will present very little challenge to a focused Chris Byrd. He has heart and he does train very well, but he is too small, and is unpolished to the point that Owen Beck (Barrett's last opponent) was able to land at will throughout their fight, bruising Barrett up and almost finishing him off on cuts. It was strange to watch Barrett finish Beck off in their fight, because he barely had the strength to lift his arms himself to get in the final combination. Barrett is the type of fighter who is tailor made for a technician like Byrd. He is not big enough to impose his skill, and aside from a TKO win over a green fighter like Beck, does not have the necessary punching power to present Byrdís iron beard with much of a problem. I see this fight being extremely one sided if it happens, with a prepared Byrd out-boxing Barrett back to the stone age, perhaps even stopping him on sheer exhaustion. However, Barrett is the fight that Byrd wants.

I donít really blame Byrd for wanting to take this fight, because well, Barrett is a beatable guy who has earned his shot, and so Byrd would be justified if he takes the fight. This is similar to what Vitali did in taking out a deserving, but over matched, Williams. Problem is, if Byrd wants to prove he is the best in the division, he wonít be able to be as impressive as Vitali, in dominating an over matched opponent. Sure he will make Barrett miss and perhaps even stop him late, but I doubt he would do it as well as Vitali. He just does not have the size, power, or style to be as impressive as the older Klitschko. However, like I said, there is one thing Chris has over Vitali, and that is his ability to take the big fights, and face the bigger challenges.

Enter Wladimir Klitschko. Now it is fair to say that Wladimir has not been as impressive as he was before, but he still beats Barrett out as the tougher challenge for Byrd for many reasons. First of all, the younger Klitschko has the size advantage, which even a limited and gun shy fighter like Jameel Mccline, was able to use against Byrd during moments of their fight. Second, Wladimir has a tremendous offensive arsenal at his disposal, and with that constant potential, he can make for a much better fight for Byrd than the feather-fisted Barrett.

Wladimir, with his superior offensive skills, would take the fight to Byrd from the onset, just as he did in their last fight. Byrd was never able to get beyond Wladimir's long, stinging jab, which was constatnly being pumped into Byrd's face, and by the end of the bout, had both of Byrd's eyes closed from swelling.

Thirdly, Byrd suffered the worst defeat of his career at the hands of Wladimir on October 10, 2000. Now, some may argue that Ibeabuchiís crushing knockout of Byrd in 1999 was more impressive, but I think that can be attributed due a single, lucky punch. Ike was more or less on par with Byrd in their fight, until Ike connected with a monster uppercut in the 5th round that crashed off Byrd's chin and sending him down. In my opinion, it was only a flash knockdown, the type that can get any fighter at any time. Honestly, the fight should have never been stopped, as Byrd instantly got up and signaled to the referee that he was okay.

In Byrd's fight against Wladimir, Byrd was thoroughly dominated for all 12 rounds, and was knocked down twice. For all the people who witnessed the fight, there was no question that Byrd was taken to school by Wladimir. Avenging a crushing defeat like that would do wonders for Byrdís credibility.

Fourth, Wladimir is ripe for picking against Byrd because he is more susceptible now than he will ever be, with Wladimir last 3 meaningful fights not going nearly as well as he and his team planned. Wladimir, who has looked very vulnerable as of late with recent devastating knockout losses to Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster and his rather poor showing against an undersized, 36 year old DaVarryl Williamson in his last match. However, Byrd has just come off three life and death battles against Fres Oquendo, Andrew Golota and Jameel McCline. All fights were very close, and Byrd was lucky to get through them without a loss on his record.

If Byrd takes on Barrett, and Wladimir is forced to fight another contender who possibly gets the better of him, Wladimir will no longer be even considered as a credible opponent. It will seem almost as if Byrd was just waiting for the younger brother to disappear so he wouldnít have to deal with him in the ring. Ike went to prison, so Byrd canít be blamed for not fighting him, but why not avenge your other loss?

Finally, what I want to say is, as a boxing fan, I would much rather watch Byrd-Klitschko, than Byrd-Barrett. I would have no problem in Byrd fighting Barrett, but that fight would be less meaningful to me, and would seem more like a showcase fight for Byrd. Knowing these three guys, through watching their fights, and knowing their ability, I see much more entertainment or a potential for entertainment from Byrd-Klitschko than Byrd Barrett. If Byrd beats Barrett, then it's simply another average defense, while if Byrd can somehow beat Wladimir, it is revenge, and respect all rolled into one.

The money is right, and so is the timing, so why not do that which will be better for the boxing community as a whole? The only thing I would change, however, is bringing this fight to Germany. It is utterly shameful that that is even being discussed. The champion should have full right and privilege in choosing where the fight is, and I doubt Byrd would choose Germany again. It is just as ridiculous as Kostya Tsyzu having to go over to England to defend his title in the challengerís hometown.

Other then that, come on, Chris, you know what we want to see, and we know what you want to get revenge for your loss against Wladimir. You can talk all you want about him not being worthy, but deep down, you must want this fight more than anything else.


Article posted on 21.02.2005

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