March 27, 2000
Berlin - March 27, 2000. A swarm of horns is a much more dangerous opponent than a wild bull. Even though the bull is much bigger and stronger he is easy to trick and easy to outmanoeuvre. In contrast to that in a fight against a swarm of horns you are destined to lose from the beginning. They buzz and sting from all angles and you have no chance of hitting them because at the time you start to load up a punch the target is already gone.
This is the frustrating experience that the opponents of Chris Byrd made. Many of his physically clearly superior opponents wanted to wipe off "that small guy with the big mouth", because the 29-year-old American is just 6-foot-1 (with a reach of 74 inches) and for most parts of his career weighed no more than 210 lb. It's not unusual for Byrd to give away 30 lb. of weight to his opponents.
But they all miscalculate. It's because the man from Flint, Michigan is extremely hard to hit. His reflexes are outstanding. Byrd moves his head and his upper body all the time and never gives his opponents a chance to land. With an impudent sneer he sometimes derides his counterparts when they miss with wild punches - until Byrd gets ready to hit back.
This is the second strong point of the 29-year-old southpaw: Byrd throws faster and more precious punches than any other heavyweight contender worldwide. Like a swarm of horns he punishes his opponent with stings and combinations from all angles. His victims first become frustrated, then they get discouraged and eventually they break down entirely losing widely on the score cards or being stopped late in the fight.
Byrd lay the foundation of his boxing skills in his amateur career that he concluded in 1992 after winning a silver medal in the middleweight division at the Olympic Games of Barcelona. One year later Byrd turned professional. By means of power lifting and by consuming protein drinks and food Byrd increased his weight within seven years from 169 lb. (in his profession debut) to 220 lb. (in his last fight in January against David Washington). The additional weight consists almost exclusively of muscles and is carried well by the 29-year-old's broad back.
Beside boxing the most important thing in the life of Byrd, a father of two daughters and one son, is his family. Like many American pugilists Byrd is a strong believer, something he also expresses with his walk-in music "Jesu Christo Mwokozi", an East African praise for Jesus Christ.
The whole boxing career of Chris Byrd is a family business. His father Joe Byrd Sr. is his trainer and cutman whereas his mother and his brothers and sisters assist Byrd in the corner. His sister Tracy Byrd is even a professional boxer herself.
The fight on April 1st in Berlin is the big chance for Chris Byrd he had to wait for a long time. Repeatedly the man from Flint demanded a title fight but he was avoided by most top contenders - for good reason, because he manages to make anybody look bad inside the ring. Eventually after running his record to 26-0 Byrd suffered the single setback of his career in March of last year when he was beaten by the also undefeated world class contender Ike Ibeabuchi. After leading on the score cards he was stopped by a fatal uppercut.
Even though it was a setback for Byrd it was a defeat that the man from Flint must not be ashamed for. It's because he shares his fate with another world class contender, IBF #1 David Tua, who also suffered his single career loss against the mysterious Ibeabuchi.
Since that time Byrd won four fights straight by knockout and gained another 12 lb. His record now stands at 30 wins (18 by knockout) against one loss. Byrd is ranked #7 by the IBF and #10 in the Independent World Boxing Rankings.
Chris Byrd is definitely the strongest opponent in the career of Dr. Vitali Klitschko. The world class contest for the Ukrainian's WBO heavyweight title will be broadcasted live by Sat.1 in Europe (22:20 German time), by Galaxy in South America, by TV-100 in Scandinavia and by HBO in the USA (11:00pm ET).