I recently spoke to former 2 time heavyweight champion Chris Byrd to discuss the heavyweight division and the boxing landscape. Byrd compiled a 45-5-1 record during his 16 year professional career and has wins over all-time great heavyweight champions Vitali Klitscho & Evander Holyfield. In part 1 of my interview Byrd shares his views on the upcoming Wilder-Stiverne & Klitschko vs. Pulev heavyweight title bouts. Additionally Chris speaks on Tyson Fury’s upcoming rematch with DerecK Chisora, and what it takes to comeback from a long lay off in boxing. Here is what Chris Byrd had to say.
Robert Brown: We got the prospect of Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne facing off. What are your thoughts on that fight?
Chris Byrd: I really don’t pick fights, I like breaking them down. When you look at both guys, both of them have punching power. Deontay Wilder is not really proven with the quality of opponents but he’s doing a great job, he knocks them out and being so tall, 6’7, he has the height and reach. He’s a hard match up for almost anybody outside of Wladimir Klitschko or anybody that’s of tall stature.
For Bermane Stiverne, it’s a style match up to where he’s kind of a boxer — he likes to use his jab, he has quick hands but it’s kind of hard to use that against a taller guy. The match up is very interesting, we’ll see what Deontay Wilder has in the fight, if Stiverne can push him the distance and try to take him out there in deep waters and drown him, then he has a shot. But he’s gonna have to put pressure to try to land punches against Wilder because Wilder uses his reach really good and uses his height and he can punch.
Wilder reminds me of a young Tommy Hearns at welterweight, 147lbs and much taller than everybody but could punch also. It’s a good match up, you got a guy that’s a champion and loves being champion right now and you got Deontay Wilder who’s hot, all knockouts and wants to win that belt. The match up is just great for boxing.
Robert Brown: Wladimir Klitschko is facing Kubrat Pulev this month. Can you expend a little on your analysis for that fight?
Chris Byrd: Wladimir Klitschko, since he won the title from me in 2006, he rearranged his game. He rearranged his game being smart, using his advantages — he’s tall, he’s very strong, has great reach — and that’s boxing. People say he’s boring, he makes fights simple. You walk away from the sport unscathed.
He got knocked out three times before he fought me and got knocked down three times in a fight right before he fought me with Samuel Peter. He hasn’t been touched since, smart. He’s older, he’s smarter. Hard match up, I think with Wladimir, he’s gonna use his jabbing ability, using the reach trying to set up the right hand. He’s a difficult match up, looking at him is one thing but being in the ring with him, it’s a difficult match up.
Pulev is good, the thing I like about Pulev is he doesn’t think about power. He doesn’t really thing about power, he can box, he’s good on his toes, he has a good jab but now he’s fighting an upward battle.
Robert Brown: Tyson Fury is facing Dereck Chisora again. How do you feel about that fight?
Chris Byrd: Another good match up. I think Chisora, after getting knocked out by David Haye he changed some things. He brings the pressure, tries to make guys miss. He’s not a tall heavyweight, so bring the pressure effectively instead of just coming in recklessly and not great defense. He’s another heavyweight that’s gonna have a major uphill battle if Tyson Fury can keep his height and reach.
Interesting match up, it all depends on if Chisora can get inside and make the big man work and can Tyson Fury keep him at bay and set up his right hand and combinations to win the fight comfortably.
Robert Brown: Tyson Fury is still rather young but how much does inactivity play a part in situations like this? Can you get the rust off in a few rounds?
Chris Byrd: With boxing, each person if different. For myself, I hated it. I hated being out nine months, I came back and my timing was off. You’ll get it back in sparring and training and then I get in the ring and it just didn’t feel the same, then a couple of rounds in, then I started to feel a little better.
You get a guy like Floyd Mayweather who’s off three years, or Vitali Klitschko that was off like four years and came back and won the title. Floyd Mayweather came back and fought Marquez after years being off and he looked brilliant. It’s just different.
With Tyson Fury, just in the confidence in himself knowing that all the trash talking he talked, he has to back it up. I think that alone, he’s the type of person that, “I gotta fight because I’m gonna get trashed so bad if I let all the trash talking I did go to waste and lose in a fight.”