Big Brother Klitschko and the Byrd-Man

14.07.05 - By Michael Montero: Right now it seems that everybody is attacking Vitali Klitschko. The American boxing press has been slamming him lately for inactivity, ducking and calling out the wrong fighters. While people have good reason to be upset – one question remains on my mind – why are people letting Chris Byrd get away with the same thing? Many people tout this guy as the division’s finest, but let’s take a closer look at this particular belt-holder’s resume as of late. . .

Chris Byrd hasn’t fought since November 13th 2004 and really hasn’t given us a good reason why. He was offered the biggest payday of his career to fight the younger Klitschko earlier this year, but ran like an altar boy from a priest and has been in limbo ever since. First he claimed that the fight location in Germany was keeping him away, but even after an offer to move it to the states was made, he again declined.

Rumor has it he turned down a $3.5 million dollar payday – why? His last four fights are less than impressive: an 11/13/04 SD over Jameel McCline, a 4/17/04 D with Andrew Golota, a 9/20/03 UD over Fres Oquendo and a 12/14/02 UD over Evander Holyfield (well – a shell of Holyfield anyway).

That’s just four fights in over 2 ½ years (about 1 every 8 months) with NO KNOCKOUTS - and remember kids – this guy is supposed to be a heavyweight!!! His last knock out was a 3rd round TKO over some guy named Jeff Pegues back on 6/08/02. So I have to ask – what has this guy done to be considered #1 in the heavyweight division?

Now to Vitali Klitschko’s recent resume. He hasn’t fought since December 11th 2004, and claims that injuries are to blame. He’s had the WBC belt for over a year now and has NOT made a mandatory defense. His first was scheduled earlier this year (April) against Hassim Rahman – but he postponed it due to injury. First it was moved to June, then July, and then the WBC finally took action. Now there is a bout in August between Rahman and Monte Barrett, the #2 ranked contender by the WBC, for the interim title.

Klitschko must face the winner of this fight – but will be allowed to have a “tune up” fight with Calvin Brock in September first. Many people don’t agree with this, but I don’t see the big deal (although he could have picked a more experienced opponent in my opinion). The guy needs a tune up and the Rahman/Barrett winner will need rest and preparation time. As long as the mandatory fight happens before the end of the year, there’s really no harm in September tune up. Who knows? We might see Barrett and Brock shock all of us and come away victorious in their perspective fights. Hey - stranger things have happened right?

Anyway, over the past 2 ½ years Vitali has fought five times: a 12/11/04 TKO over Danny Williams, a 4/24/04 TKO over Corrie Sanders, a 12/06/03 TKO over Kirk Johnson, a 6/21/03 TKO LOSS (due to cuts) to Lennox Lewis and an 11/23/02 TKO over Larry Donald. Five fights, with the only loss to the fighter of his generation. Not too bad, but not exactly impressive either. And let’s be honest here, he hasn’t exactly fought the fiercest opponents out there. His only other loss, also due to injury, was to Chris Byrd back in 2001.

Looking at the similarities, it’s a wonder to me that there is such bashing of Klitschko, while not much is said at all about Byrd and his antics. You Klitschko haters will probably say that I’m being too easy on Vitali, while you Klitschko lovers will say I’m being to hard on him. For some reason, the Klitschko name seems to ALWAYS strike up arguments, more so than any other heavyweight boxer. I think the best way to end all the uncertainty and arguing is for Vitali Klitschko and Chris Byrd to have a rematch.

Younger brother Wladimir needs to quit chasing the Byrd-Man and go after somebody else – for starters how about avenging his loss to Lamon Brewster (not to mention taking his WBO belt back). The Ukrainian brothers share a goal of holding title belts at the same time. Well if Wladimir goes after Brewster he can accomplish this goal, as well as earn back the respect from the boxing media. To me that’s a good direction for him to go and it would be a way to kill two birds with one stone. . .

Back to Byrd-Klitschko II – who DOESN’T want to see this fight? If I could talk to Chris and Vitali personally I would tell them to go ahead and clean up all the mandatories and such by year end – then get it on in early 2006. This fight would not only unify the belts and give us a clear undisputed heavyweight champion, but it would prove to everybody whether Byrd’s 2001 victory over Klitschko was just a fluke, or the real deal. Both of these guys are in their mid thirties, and have limited time remaining – what is there to lose? It would definitely be PayPerView, not to mention the biggest payday in their careers, and it would give the winner the legacy they so desperately want - the legacy of being the legitimate heavyweight champion. After that fight there’s no more debate – it’s clear who the man in the division is.

After that fight the winner can fight whoever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want. It’s clearly a win-win situation for everybody involved – why can’t this fight happen? One thing is for sure, Klitschko will have to make this fight happen because Chris Byrd will not. Vitali needs to start calling out Byrd publicly EVERY chance he gets. If that doesn’t do the job than he needs to work his way up to being Byrd’s mandatory in some way. If the fight ever does happen, let me be the first to predict a TKO victory for Klitschko in the late rounds. . .

So what’s my point? Let’s quit bashing this guy or bashing that guy - it’s clear that there are many people to blame in the heavyweight picture right now. Let’s quit talking about who’s number one, and who’s ducking who, and get this all settled in the ring. Let’s take the two guys that many “experts” think are the division’s best, and let them settle the argument for us. Byrd-Klitschko II would make a lot of people happy, make a lot of people shut up and make a lot of people money. Again I ask – what’s to lose?

Article posted on 14.07.2005

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