Boxing News — Chris Byrd To Continue Fighting As a Light Heavyweight
By Scott Gilfoid: In a move that’s likely destined for failure, former IBF/WBO heavyweight champion of the world Chris Byrd (40-5-1, 21 KOs) is apparently going to continue on with his boxing career despite his recent three losses in his last four fights. According to the The Flint Journal, Byrd, now a ripe 38 years-old, has said that he wants to be the third person in history to go from heavyweight to light heavyweight and win a championship belt. There’s no problem with Byrd having a goal; In fact, it’s admirable, except for the fact that he was recently trounced in his last fight by light heavyweight Shaun George on May 16th, who methodically gave Byrd a systematic beat down in every round before knocking him out in the 9th round.
Although in fairness to Byrd, he did injure his left shoulder and couldn’t continue fighting because of that. However, Byrd injured the shoulder after being badly hurt for the second time in the fight and knocked down. When Byrd fell, he landed on his left shoulder, causing a serious injury.
The shoulder is reportedly still healing, but Byrd isn’t letting the injury keep him from his aspirations to win a light heavyweight belt. Who knows? Perhaps Byrd took the fight with George on too short of notice, because Byrd looked badly emaciated in the fight, as if he had lost too much weight in too short of a time period.
Previous to the fight, Byrd had been fighting between 210-214 lbs, and had to drop close to 35 lbs to make the 175 lb weight limit. Though he says that he walks around at around that weight limit between fights, it’s a much different story to have to fight competitively at that weight, because the fighters are much faster than what he’s been fighting recently as a heavyweight. George, who was ranked low at the time of his fight with Byrd, is much better than his rankings and is perhaps in the top three in the light heavyweight division in terms of talent and ability.
Byrd appears to have made a bad mistake in selecting him as an opponent, because I think there were plenty of other options out there that Byrd could have taken, such as Thomas Ulrich, Joe Spina, or Elvir Muriqi, which Byrd could have fought and easily beaten. After Byrd’s shoulder heals, he needs to focus on fighting these class of fighters for awhile, and hopefully after winning two or three fights, he might get a chance at someone like champions Antonio Tarver or Zsolt Erdei, both of which would be vulnerable to a fighter in the class of Byrd.
If Byrd can come into the fight weighing close to his normal weight of 200 lbs, he’d have a big advantage over most of his light heavyweight opponents. However, his lack of power is going to be a problem for him, because he never has had a very high work rate, and has won most of his fights by making his opponents miss and the pecking at them sporadically to win close decisions.
At light heavyweight, Byrd has to change his offense completely and become a much more active fighter if he hopes to find any kind of real success at this weight. While he may talk about being able to do this, I remains to be seen whether he can actually do it. At 38, he is what he is, and it’s doubtful he can up his work rate any more than what it has been in the past, no matter what weight he fights at.
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