Is Byrd In Hiding?

10.03.05 - By Scoop Malinowski: "A coward is a coward is a coward." Now that it is out in the open that Chris Byrd does not have to go to Germany to fight Wladimir Klitschko for $3.5 million and that he's been offered his contracted minimum of $2.5 million to face the Ukrainian on home turf in America, what more excuses can this so-called champion come up with next?

The apparent latest in the long charade of excuses by Byrd is that he wants Don King to pay $250,000 to some co-promoter named Bill Kozerski. But the way Byrd has bait-and-switched with all his excuses not to fight Wladimir Klitschko, you know once this demand is met, he'll most likely contrive some more new smokescreens. To disguise the truth that everyone knows now.

As the hype and speculation about this fight grow with each day, Byrd has been more silent than a yellow warbler. For the last two weeks we've heard not even a peep from him. You cannot find any interviews with him anywhere, he's not even talking to his most sympathetic and loyal allies in the press. Which leads you to wonder if he's in hiding.

Could the IBF champ be seeking safe refuge from HBO, Don King, Wladimir Klitschko and everyone who wants to make this fight? Is he afraid to speak on the issue for fear that anything he says may come back to haunt him? Or does he have absolutely nothing to say except, "I fear a fight with Wladimir Klitschko."

Is Byrd shrewdly hiding away in seclusion so as to wait out and avoid the April 23 HBO date?

Is Byrd hiding away and waiting and hoping - like Little Red Riding Hood - for the big bad wolf to go away and sign for another fight?

If this is so - and it most certainly looks like it - is this not one of the most absurdly pathetic displays of unchampionlike behavior ever by a heavyweight champion?

"I want to fight the best but they don't want to fight me."

"I want big fights."

"You know me, I'll fight anyone anywhere."

"Don King is the man. Whatever Don King wants."

We've all listened to those bold chirpments for years. And most of us believed them. Heck, Chris Byrd is a helluva fighter. And his career of accomplishments - from Olympic silver medal at 165 pounds in 1992 all the way to the IBF Heavyweight title is respected by everyone.

But it's only in the most adverse moments that a person's true colors come out. That's when we find out who a person really is.

It's obvious now the boxing decision-makers want to see Byrd not take flight, but take a big risk in his next fight (eventhough Art Manteris of Station Casinos in Las Vegas tabs Byrd as the early 2-1 favorite vs. Wladimir Klitschko). The powers of boxing, the fans, just about everyone wants to see Byrd in a rematch with the younger Klitschko.

There is no known public demand for Byrd to fight Barrett, Valuev, Goofy, or Maskaev.

It's been alarming to see how Byrd's recent stall tactics and excuse making have earned the scorn of many boxing fans around the world. In fan forums and emails to me, boxing fans are calling Byrd "a coward", "a fraud'" and even worse. Much worse.

I questioned one fan if it really is fair to call a professional fighter and world champion a "coward." "A coward is a coward is a coward," was the instant reply from Maria in California.

Chris Byrd has had a proud and distinguished career. But the jeopardy is it could all be overshadowed if he proceeds to duck this fight with Wladimir Klitschko.

It's even possible Byrd might even need to buy a fake nose and glasses disguise - like the one Floyd Patterson wore after the shame he felt for losing to Sonny Liston in one round.

At least Floyd Patterson stepped in the ring and faced his most formidable challenge.

Scoop Malinowski is a contributor.

Article posted on 10.03.2005

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