The incredibly skilled and somewhat underrated Chris Byrd was able, with his box of tricks, his savvy, and his nerve, to befuddle a number of naturally bigger/heavier, harder-hitting men.
Byrd, who won a version of the heavyweight title, pulled off wins over David Tua, Evander Holyfield, and even Vitali Klitschko.
It’s interesting that Alexander Krassyuk, who guides Oleksandr Usyk’s career, mentioned Byrd when speaking with ESPN.com about Usyk’s upcoming fight with WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua.
But Krassyuk was not comparing Usyk to Byrd; he was actually stating how his fighter is not “a cruiserweight fighting as a heavyweight like Chris Byrd was.” Byrd gave away plenty of weight in plenty of fights, and while Usyk will also be giving away a good deal of poundage when he gets in there with AJ on September 25, Krassyuk says Usyk has developed and grown into a legit heavyweight.
Byrd, along with greats Michael Spinks, Roy Jones, and Evander Holyfield, to name three, made the move up from either light-heavyweight or cruiserweight to capture the heavyweight crown. Now, Krassyuk says Usyk is ready to do the same.
“He has been working hard …… building his body for the heavyweight division, and he’s a true heavyweight now,” Krassyuk said of Usyk. “No-one can say he is a cruiserweight fighting as a heavyweight like Chris Byrd was. Oleksandr is a natural heavyweight now.”
It will, of course, be interesting to see what Usyk weighs when he climbs on the scale on September 24 (as it will be interesting seeing what the apparently slimmed down Joshua tips in at). But providing Usyk is not blown away or overpowered early on in the fight, this clash will come down to skill.
Usyk does ‘look’ like a heavyweight now, yet those early rounds and how he takes what comes his way if it lands will prove crucial. But if Usyk, a very clever boxer, is still there at, say, the halfway stage, then things will become truly fascinating.
The rematch clause is in place, plenty of experts have told Joshua that Usyk is the most talented boxer he will ever share a ring with, and Usyk is absolutely loaded with confidence.
Is Usyk about to join the very small club that only allows entry to former light-heavyweight or cruiserweight champions who managed to move up and capture heavyweight glory? I smell upset, what about you?
Or maybe you would not consider it an upset if Usyk defeated Jo