26.04.08 - By Cesar Pancorvo: Hard to believe. Chris Byrd, heavyweight contender for almost a decade, now declining, will campaign in the Light Heavyweight division. Apparently, he has no problems making that weight and is already close to it. I can’t remember a case that is similar to this one in recent history –I’m not counting Roy Jones, who only fought once as a heavyweight..
Article posted on 26.04.2008
Investigating the ratings from The Ring Magazine, one can discover that Chris Byrd was already named there since 1998: the annual rankings show him as the #6 contender, below Shannon Briggs and above Ike Ibeabuchi –great division that eclipses the current one, it had fighters like Holyfield, Lewis, Tua, Golota, Moorer and also Michael Grant, Hasim Rahman, etc., the 1990s were a golden era–, who would beat him in 1999 and take him out of the rankings.
Byrd, “Rapid Fire”, would return to the rankings in 2000, thanks to his win over Vitali Klitschko (luck privileged him in this fight, but he won), and he would stay in the Top10 ratings until last year. His most respected attributes, defense and speed, would mix with some other characteristics, very good chin and heart, to bring him wins over many contenders of this era like David Tua, Evander Holyfield (old), Fres Oquendo, Jameel McCline, DaVaryll Williamson (Zzzz), etc. Some of those fights were boring, others were close decisions, but nobody can deny that Byrd’s resume is one of the best of this heavyweight period.
After his loss to Povetkin, Byrd, who is now 37 years old, announced that he would go down to 175 and fight there: he will be even faster, his defense may be even better and the attributes that made him famous might become even more impressive…But can he still be competitive, against top level, at his age? Though not a great one, this 175 division is good –a bit better than the one dominated by Jones in the 90s– and going there could be a tough challenge for a veteran warrior like Byrd. What fights can be made? Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones are rumored to fight later this year in Madison Square Garden, but names like Bernard Hopkins (if he doesn’t retire), Antonio Tarver or Clinton Woods are there for Byrd, whose first step there will be Shaun George (16-2-2).
Byrd at Light Heavyweight seems like a fiction, but I will try to fantasize even more: Trinidad’s last fight was at 170; could he gain five more pounds and face Byrd? Trinidad versus Byrd seems like crazy fantasy match-up that some lunatic would talk about at work or post in some forum, but it could happen –in theory, of course. A guy that fought Pernell Whitaker and a guy that fought Wladimir Klitschko. Boxing is incredible.