I recently was afforded a chance to speak to former two time Heavyweight champion, Chris Byrd. Since his retirement from boxing, Byrd has offered his views on his youtube series ‘Byrd’s Eye View” in which he covers the biggest fights in the sport. During this interview, Byrd breaks down in detail the upcoming heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko. Additionally, Chris talks about this weekend’s Mayweather-Berto fight, Pacquiao vs. Khan and Canelo-Cotto. Here are some highlights from the interview. (Click on player for the full interview)
Robert Brown: Floyd Mayweather is fighting Andre Berto this weekend. If you were training Berto, how would you train him to fight Mayweather?
Chris Byrd: If I was training Berto, he would be more of a Mike Tyson type fighter than a pure boxer. How do you face a guy that is very hard to hit? You know that going in mentally, and he mentally shuts you down with everything he does because Floyd thinks of defense first, he allows you to commit.
In my opinion, the closer you get to him, the better chance you have. Putting pressure and being a little bit reckless, like Maidana did the first fight, reckless. You have to bring it for twelve rounds if you want to have a chance of winning because you’re going against a guy who’s super smart, super intelligent, and he thinks of defense before offence. He’s gonna start making you miss and make you think about every punch you throw when you start missing, and that’s a terrible feeling in the ring because now he shuts your game down.
Robert Brown: What does it take to defeat someone like Floyd Mayweather?
In my honest opinion, effective pressure going forward, hands up, making it rough, make it a dog fight and figuring out a style to make it effective to fight Floyd, instead of just bringing pressure. We all think it’s easier said than done, but at the same time, making Floyd miss also.
A lot of people want to hit Floyd flush in the right area instead of just winning the round and being busy. Win the round, hit him anywhere that’s legal. He will run into something eventually, but you gotta stay active, you gotta stay on top of him, gotta keep him on the defense — and not the defense from a distance, but the distance on top of him. Make him fight through twelve rounds, you gotta keep it up.
It is easier said because Floyd not only has a great defense up top, but he uses his legs well, so he’s getting out of traps a lot. That style I’m saying of staying on top of him, now it gets even harder because he uses his legs well still at his age. He can still move, he can still take angles and he gets out. He gets in and then he disappears. That’s frustrating to a boxer, a lot of guys slow their pace down and stop and then Floyd is right in the middle of the ring again and he’s having a field day, he’s gonna pick you apart.
Like I said, it sounds easy but you talk to the guys that fight him and they’re like, “Man, that was a hard, frustrating mental battle through twelve rounds.” He’s breaking you down every round. He’s just a good fighter, he’s a smart guy that knows what he’s doing in the ring and he breaks you down round after round mentally. Defense messes with your mental, offense messes with your physical.
Robert Brown: There’s talk about Manny Pacquiao possibly fighting Amir Khan next. How do you see that fight playing out if it happens?
Chris Byrd: Both guys are fast but Manny finds a way to let his combinations go and cuts the distance. Manny is a small guy, a short guy that knows how to cut the distance by being in the lefty stance and the awkwardness of his style as he’s coming forward. He throws punches in bunches and he’ll get to you, no matter the size, and he’s very effective at doing it.
With Amir Khan, to slow Manny down, you gotta ride off that back foot. You gotta make Manny reach and run into things, use your height and reach to your advantage. That’s the thing when Manny fought Chris Algieri, Algieri is very tall but Manny got to him too easy, and it’s the same with Amir Khan. Amir’s got a little bit more power than Chris Algieri, but at the same time, he’s similar in boxing skills. If Manny can get to him like he did with Chris Algieri, he’s gonna really get to him.
Robert Brown: Miguel Cotto is fighting Saul Alvarez, what are your thoughts on this one?
Chris Byrd: It’s a great match up with names. Miguel Cotto has been around for a long time and he came back and won the middleweight title against Sergio Martinez, but he was a 39 year old that hadn’t fought in thirteen months and was injured. Cotto may turn back the hands of time, but Canelo is this young, fresh guy, strong, fast, and is willing to fight any style.
I have to lean towards Canelo Alvarez’s youth kicking in. Cotto is looking pretty decent but the competition — Sergio Martinez was good but he was at the end, and then he fought Delvin Rodriguez. You can’t really bank it off that, and they hype it up so much that he’s changed, but it still doesn’t translate to a young, strong Canelo Alvarez who is naturally the bigger guy and can punch and box also. I don’t think him losing to Floyd diminishes him at all, he was young when he fought Floyd and he’s still young in boxing. When you look at it, it’s a great match up but I’m leaning towards Canelo Alvarez.