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George Destroys Byrd: Chris To Retire?

Chris ByrdBy Jason Kim: Making his first attempt at light heavyweight, a badly weight drained-looking Chris Byrd (40-5-1, 21 KOs) was absolutely decimated by light heavyweight Shaun George (17-2-2, 8 KOs), getting stopped in the 9th round on Friday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Byrd, 37, was knocked down twice in the fight, once in the 1st and another time in the 9th, before referee Jay Nady moved in and halted the fight after Byrd fell into the ropes after taking a flurry of punches from the 29 year-old George.

Not a particularly hard puncher, George looked like a KO artist as be beat Byrd from pillar to post for all nine rounds of the fight, hitting him with lead right hands whenever he wanted to. Byrd’s wife, Tracy, later said that he had injured his left shoulder while falling down after the 1st knockdown in the first round, which effected his ability to punch. That maybe, because Byrd, usually an active fighter, looked like he was in a trance all fight long, rarely throwing punchers other than jabs and taking countless right hands from George.

Byrd was staggered in the first round after taking a big right hand from George. Not long after, Byrd was dropped by a powerful lead right from George, causing Byrd to fall awkwardly onto his left shoulder. If Byrd was injured, he gave no indication of it immediately following the knockdown, nor did he say anything between rounds. Even before the knockdown, however, it was clear that Byrd was in way over his head with George, for Byrd’s hand speed was much slower than George and his work rate, not good even while fighting as a heavyweight, was dreadful next to the busy George.

It was hard to figure out what was wrong with Byrd, because he should have been able to deal with George, who was mostly a one-armed fighter all fight long, mostly throwing lead right hands over and over again. A good light heavyweight would have eaten the predictable George up and made him pay for his limited style of fighting, but not Byrd.

Byrd continued to take a one-sided beating in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, getting nailed often by right hands by George, who mostly threw them one at a time, although he would sometimes club Byrd repeatedly with them and making him look really bad. Byrd would cover up, looking like a schoolboy taking a beating from a bully. It was very ugly to watch, even if you weren’t a fan of Byrd’s. Byrd did a little bit better in the 3rd round, but mostly because George didn’t let his hands go much until the final minute of the round. Still, Byrd did little to take advantage of George’s lack of punching, usually just throwing pawing jabs.

In rounds four through six, George continued with his one-sided beating of Byrd, hitting him clearly with lead right hands almost at will. It was almost sickening to watch Byrd getting beaten to a pulp by George, because it seemed to out of character for Byrd to be thrashed like this. However, this was a different Byrd than people had seen before, a starved looking Byrd, who had legs that resembled two pencils. It can’t understand how Byrd’s father, his trainer, could have let him get this crazy idea to move down to the light heavyweight division in the first place.

It seemed illogical on the face of it, not only because it meant that Byrd would have to strip off nearly fifty pounds of muscle, but also because of his advanced age when taking on this move. Whatever the case, Byrd took some nasty head shots in the 5th round, one of them a right hand that George landed while feigning as if he was walking away, then suddenly turning and tagging Byrd with a clean right. It’s an old trick that Roy Jones Jr. and even Byrd himself has used many times in their careers, yet it was sad to see it done to Byrd.

In the seventh through ninth rounds, Byrd was able to make a fight of it somewhat, landing a decent amount of left hands and jabs to the head of George. During that time, George showed why he’s not a top level fighter in my opinion, in that he threw few combinations and went through extended periods of time without throwing shots. Couldn’t figure out what was stopping him but it was clearly some kind of mental lapse of concentration, because he could have blown Byrd out at any time if he had just attacked him hard with a prolonged series of shots.

As it turns out, George finally did just that but only after dropping Byrd with a left-right combination in the 9th round. Byrd, again, fell down awkwardly on his left shoulder during the knockdown, and it was clear that he wouldn’t likely make it out of the round when he staggered to his feet. When the action resumed, George went after Byrd, driving him into a corner of the ring, where he unloaded with some blistering shots ending with a left hand that dropped Byrd into the ropes where he briefly hung there for a moment. He righted himself and stood up, allowing referee Jay Nady to begin giving him a standing eight count. However, at the count of Nady, who perhaps not liking what he was seeing in Byrd’s eyes, promptly stopped the fight at 2:45 of the 9th round.

In an interview after, Byrd’s wife said that she wasn’t going to allow him to fight anymore. Byrd, however, hasn’t said whether he’ll continue fighting or not, but knowing him, he’ll not likely want to go out on a bad note, especially when it seemed like a bad decision on his part to move all the way down to the light heavyweight division in the first place. The choice of George as Byrd’s first opponent in the light heavyweight division wasn’t exactly a smart move, either.

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