Scoop: Is Chris Byrd Ducking Wladimir Klitschko?

23.02.05 - By Scoop Malinowski / - Everyone in boxing knows Chris Byrd is a great guy, nice guy but as a heavyweight draw, the truth is he is a featherweight. Even the self-proclaimed world's greatest promoter Don King has struggled mightily to market the talented and likeable Byrd into a moderately popular attraction..

Let's face it, boxing is not going anywhere with Chris Byrd as champion. Nothing noteworthy has happened while Chris Byrd has been IBF champ and most likely nothing remarkable ever will. It's safe to assume Chris Byrd is not going to suddenly become an explosive force in the heavyweight division.

For boxing to thrive and excel to new heights, it needs fights with excitement and drama - not stagnation.

Now HBO and Don King, the Hatfield and McCoy's of boxing, realize and appreciate this reality. And astoundingly, the two parties have apparently reached a very rare accord - as both sides are trying together to make a Chris Byrd-Wladimir Klitschko rematch for Byrd's IBF heavyweight title in April in Germany.

It's a sensible fight and an interesting one. A match that will generate plenty of buzz and curiosity - something Byrd fights rarely do. Can the one-time future of the heavyweight division get back on track against former victim Byrd after those two flat tires? Or was the former Olympic gold medalist's engine ruined by Lamon Brewster and Corrie Sanders? Is Chris Byrd willing to act like a champion and take on all-comers, especially the riskiest one that will put the most money in his pocket? Can Byrd score a legitimating victory over a man who previously dominated him? Or would Byrd prefer to pick and choose his opponents, while still demanding big bucks, even though most of his fights are only worth small bucks?

Byrd and his publicist are publicly whining that Klitschko doesn't deserve a title shot as much as someone like Monte Barrett. But that's baloney. Klitschko deserves it just as much as Holyfield did against Tyson the first time...Foreman did against Moorer....and Jim Jeffries did against Jack Johnson. Name and reputation count for a lot in boxing and Klitschko showed against DaVarryl Williamson, he is not finished yet. If the younger Klitschko was finished, wouldn't Byrd be eager to prove it?

Byrd's reluctance to face Wladimir is beginning to make him look like a phony. This is the same man who tried to defend his title against such deserving opposition as Derrick Jefferson and Gerald Nobles for paydays in the six-figures. And if Byrd were truly sincere about fighting contenders who most deserve title shots, he would have called Fres Oquendo and Andrew Golota, who many say they both beat Byrd but got robbed by the judges. The truth is Byrd chose to not grant Oquendo a deserved rematch and totally ducked a Golota rematch.

So now Byrd and his camp want to cry the blues that they don't want to fight Wladimir Klitschko for between $2.5 and $3 million (plus a rematch clause!) because they claim the Ukrainian doesn't deserve it. Is this hypopcricy or what? Or is it the telltale sign that Byrd is officially no longer a real champion but a phony champion with an attitude of entitlement, who wants to linger on the IBF throne at the expense of the best interests of the sport and the fans that have made him a millionaire? Has Byrd completely become one of those Roy Jones-esque businessman champs who only pick and choose safe opposition - unless absolutely and relentlessly forced to do otherwise?

If this is all true, and this "champion" is not readily willing to face all-comers, then Byrd's actions are conduct unbecoming of a champion. This is not a champion but a fighter impersonating a champion. And it's time to mail in that title to the IBF office in Newark.

You cannot fool the public. The sport of boxing jeopardizes and cheats itself when it is characterized by fake champions who want to pick fights they know they can win and avoid compelling fights that may be dangerous.

If Chris Byrd would adamantly prefer to fight Monte Barrett for what would only be worth mid six-figures than fight Wladimir Klitschko for $2.5 - 3 million, well then we all know what kind of champion Chris Byrd now has become.

Interesting QUOTES from my archives:

Chris Byrd, when asked if Wladimir could come back and be a force shortly after the loss to Corrie Sanders: "Yeah, that stuff happens. You get caught. That's part of boxing. He's been boxing long enough to know what you've got to do after a fight, after losing. It happens. That should motivate him even more to be a champ. I always put myself in that situation. The same thing happened after I fought Klitschko - that was my second loss. My first loss was Ike - was devastating. And then I lose to Klitschko. I'm like, Man! And my wife tells me, What are you gonna do - quit or fight? You got two options - either quit and give this stuff up or fight. Fight your butt off. That's what true boxers do. And I think he's a true boxer. He'll be back. I mean, he just got caught. That's just part of the sport. But I think he won't take himself for granted next time. Cause he took Corrie Sanders for granted like he was nothing. When you start reading your articles and everybody's telling you you're the greatest thing out there...he's gonna stop doing that. That's for sure. So he''ll be back...The amateur background that he has will be very beneficial. On the other hand, if you have a fighter without that huge amateur background, they don't know how to lose. Look at Michael Grant. He's not the same since getting blown out by Lennox Lewis. That's a totally different situation from Klitschko and the amateur experience is that difference. Michael didn't have that to fall back on. And all he knew was winning. So when he lost it was devastating and he's not been the same fighter since."

Joe Byrd's opinion about Wladimir Klitschko's future (said in November 2004): "He just got to be more calm and don't go out there and try and knock guys out. Take that out of his mind. Everybody ain't gonna, so if he go out there and box and wait on that one big shot - like he did on my son - he's gonna be a hard man to beat. He's strong and knows how to box. He was an Olympic champion, he knows how to beat these kids. He'll be back. He'll be back. All he need is one good fight to put him back on the winning track. He'll be back. That last fight didn't help him much (vs. Williamson) but it helped him a little bit. But he need a good, strong opponent and he'll be right back, right back where he left off."

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Article posted on 23.02.2005

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