Klitschko - Byrd: Let us get things straight, Klitschko is the favourite here

19.04.06 - By Kieran Redmond: I am quite alarmed to have read so many articles on this site placing Byrd as the clear favourite in this match up. I have gone through this fight in my head a million times and I can only find one way in which Byrd can possibly win, which is if the stamina of Wlad fails him. Outside of the stamina issue I do not think Byrd really stands a chance. Hear me out first and then the war of comments can begin..

Byrd is a talented fighter, we all know about the childhood ring and the silver medal and the fact that Byrd is a talented operator and of course he is allusive. Wlad is also a good boxer though. While many people talk of the downfall of Wlad in many departments, I can honestly say I have seen no decline of his boxing ability. The man has a huge amateur record, won a gold medal and has had a lot of fights for a man just turned 30. I cannot think of any one fighter that has ever outboxed Wlad in the ring. He has been outfought by Brewster, Sanders and Purity of course, but not outboxed. Wlad beat Byrd by outboxing him, something Wlad has never come up 2nd in and it is unlikely he will receive a boxing lesson from Byrd this Saturday. What also we have to realise is that Wlad is the best boxer Byrd has faced in the ring, Byrd fought Holyfield and Golota when their boxing skills were past their prime. Of course Byrd is also the best boxer that Wlad has ever faced, but Wlad is still IMO a better boxer. The Klitschkos seem to have a blueprint on Byrd since both of them have outboxed him, yes, even Vitali who is considered clumsy and slow by some was on his way to a clear UD before his shoulder went, but it was a fair win for Byrd. Both are great boxers but Wlad is a better boxer. Byrd cannot outbox Wlad unless Wlad has stamina problems.

If Byrd decides to stand and trade then he could also find himself in deep waters. People point to the physique of Byrd being more adapted to the heavyweights than his stretched middleweight frame was 5 years ago. Maybe Byrd does have a harder punch than he did 5 years ago but he still has one of the lowest KO ratios around and he has not stopped a man in the ring for nearly 4 years. Wlad does not have the strongest chin in the heavyweight division but the punchers who have put him on his back, have carried a lot more bang in their fists than Byrd ever will. As for the chin of Byrd, he does have a strong chin but that is not going to help him, Wlad is a huge puncher at heavyweight, with a large KO ratio and has floored and stopped some highly durable fighters. Byrd was floored twice in their first fight but did bravely fight on. I do not think the power Wlad has in each hand is up for debate, it is agreed. Byrd cannot KO Wlad but Wlad can KO Byrd, unless Wlad has stamina problems.

Where will Byrd choose to fight Wlad then? If Byrd chooses to fight Wlad on the outside, he will be trying to outjab a man 6 inches taller than himself, who has an excellent jab which can be quickly converted to a left hook which has surprised and badly hurt iron chinned fighters such as Mercer and Peters. Wlad has made even greater usage of his jab under the tuition of Manny and it is one thing that has certainly improved in his arsenal. Byrd may choose to stand right infront of Wlad and fight him right there, this would probably be even more unwise. Many have pointed to Byrd having stood infront of giants such as Mccline, Harris and Golota but this still does not compare to Wlad. Mccline and Harris do not carry the power that their frames suggest and Golota was faded, but even then he gave Byrd a run for his money. The new style of Byrd standing toe to toe with his foes has to be respected but tactically against Wlad it is insanity, he cannot outmuscle Wlad or hope to outfight him either. At 35 is Byrd going to be as allusive as he was when he previously faced him. Unless Wlad has stamina problems he will not lose to Byrd on the inside or outside.

Wlad does have problems which he has shown against certain fighters Against very hard punching, durable fighters who will keep putting pressure on him, Wlad has shown psychological problems. He also has stamina issues. What he did show in the Peters fight was an ability to pace himself and keep his cool against a dangerous puncher, most of all Wlad learned to clinch, Peters could not apply the pressure though. Byrd is durable and can put pressure on a fighter but he does not have that 3rd essential element of carrying any power that completes the combination which mentally has shown to cause Wlad problems. Wlad has shown stamina problems in the past but Manny claims that he has trained Wlad, unlike he did in the Brewster fight, to pace himself more with his punching. Wlad may have shown a more sensible pace in the Peters fight but it still remains to be seen if he can in the longrun. It has been stated that Wlad when perceiving a heavy handed, durable, pressure fighting threat, overdoes his workload and causes himself stamina problems. If that is the case then the softer punches of Byrd will probably not cause Wlad any self induced stamina problems.

Let us not forget that Byrd turned down a huge sum not to fight Wlad last year, let us also remember that Byrd only agreed to fight Wlad when Wlad became the Mandatory for the IBF. I am not calling Byrd a coward, if I were Byrd I would be reluctant to put my title on the line fighting a man who I am very unlikely to beat. Wlad chose to fight Byrd instead of fighting Brewster for a similar reason, Brewster would have been a much harder fight for him. Either way, both fighters deserve respect for making this fight happen.

Maybe Byrd will beat Wlad, but I just cannot see, outside of stamina issues for the umpteenth time, how. If Wlad loses, I will be the first one scratching my head and apologising for not seeing it coming. I never saw Brewster beating Golota inside one round and I thought Lacy Calzaghe would be a close fight with Calzaghe winning by close decision, not the one sided beating it turned out to be.

Article posted on 19.04.2006

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