11.07.06 - By Karen Belford: After a long 13-years of fighting as a heavyweight, Chris Byrd (39-3-1, 20 KO's) at long last is reportedly moving down to the Cruiserweight division, where he is expected to fight, O'Neil Bell (26-1-1, 24 KO's), the current WBA & WBC Cruiserweight champion, most likely as early as September. By challenging Bell, it would appear that Byrd hasn't lost one bit of courage from his recent 7th round TKO loss to IBF heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on April 22, a fight where Byrd deployed a bad fight strategy in losing his IBF heavyweight title. Now, though, it would seem that Byrd, now 35-years-old, may mistakenly believe that he is just too small to contend against the large giants in the heavyweight division.
Article posted on 11.07.2006
In fact, I think Byrd is making a huge mistake by moving down to the cruiserweight, if he actually is going to be making this a permanent move, for he is badly underestimated his huge talent as a heavyweight.
I mean, aside from Wladimir Klitschko, I can't point to one fighter in the heavyweight division that Byrd wouldn't likely beat. Even with Wladimir, I think Byrd could very well beat him in a rematch, if Chris utilizes a better fight strategy, one that relies on speed against the slow moving Wladimir. All that Byrd needed to do, from my perspective, is to use more ring movement, and then wait until Wladimir tires out in the later rounds before pounding him into submission.
My gut instinct, reinforced by my knowledge of the forces of speed vs. power, tells me that Byrd would easily beat fighters, such as Hasim Rahman, Sergei Liakhovich, Lamon Brewster, or Nikolay Valuev, all of which are considered by many to be the top heavyweights in the division.
They’re good, yes, but not as fast or as talented as Byrd, when compared side by side. And, for those who think Byrd is getting old, you couldn’t be more wrong. Byrd, even at 35, has still as much speed now as he did when he was 25, and he is just as good defensively, too. Basically, what I'm getting at here is that Byrd doesn't need to do this, since he has far too much ability at heavyweight to waste his time dropping down, when he doesn't need to.
Don’t get me wrong, though. The Cruiserweight fighters, the ones that are considered the cream of the crop, such as O'Neil Bell, Guillermo Jones, Steve Cunningham, and Jean Marc Mormeck, they're all solid fighters, I'm sure, but none of them are in Chris Byrd's class, from my observations of their fights.
For the most part, each one of them is strong in their own way, and tend to load up on their punches, trying for a knockout with every swing. Presumably, that would make them a difficult opponent for someone like Byrd, a fighter that has very little power.
However, Byrd loves to fight hard punchers like them, and would have no problem out-boxing them. It wouldn't be much of a contest, to be honest, and Byrd, with his great wisdom, probably sees exactly this, which is why he's decided to drop down in weight in the first place. Why not?
That being said, don't expect Byrd to stay at Cruiserweight for long, for I predict that he will probably only fight the WBA/WBC Cruiserweight champion, O'Neil Bell, and after beating him, Byrd will move back up to the heavyweight division, where he will continue to make his over-sized opponents look bad.
Sure, I imagine that Byrd, in the best possible circumstances, would like to stay at Cruiserweight, if the money was good, but unfortunately, there's just not enough big money fights to suit someone as talented as Chris Byrd. No, I think Byrd will likely fight this one fight against O’Neil Bell, and then move back up to heavyweight.
Hopefully, by next year, we can see Byrd back in the thick of the heavyweight division, possibly fighting someone like Hasim Rahman, Wladimir Klitschko or Nikolay Valuev, if they’re still the champions.
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