Byrd Grounded

By Tom Donelson
Updated: October 3, 2005

NEW YORK — On Saturday night, Chris Byrd did not take flight. In one of the more abysmal championship fights, Byrd won a decision over DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson. The best you can say for this fight was that seeing the replay is the perfect cure for insomnia.

Williamson decided to entice Byrd to come forward so he can nail him with his right hand, his best weapon. Byrd was reluctant since his strength is counterpunching. So what we got was nearly 12 rounds of posing and this fight was enough to make one wish for John Ruiz hug fest. It was that boring.

Which brings us to the million-dollar question, what is Byrd to do? He is a boxer by nature. With quick hands and little power in his punches, Byrd would love to have a big payday but the problem is that Byrd is not the most marketable fighter.

Which is too bad, for he is one of boxing smarter fighter and good guys. The guy studies the sweet science and knows the sport. Well spoken, Byrd would make a natural boxing analyst when he finally retires.

Over the past few years, he has engaged in a battle with his promoter Don King for bigger purses. What he has not yet seen is that million-dollar purse that he figured he would eventually receive when signing with Don King. Byrd does have one option- James Toney.

Toney tutored Dominick Guinn on the finer aspect of boxing, in particular inside fighting on the same card as Byrd-Williamson. While Byrd-Williamson fight set new record for fans snoozing, Toney and Guinn actually had an entertaining fight.

For Byrd, Fighting Toney makes sense. Toney is one of the most marketable heavyweights and he is an entertaining fighter. Plus, Toney is a one man PR team. And Toney would mix it up with Byrd, so we wouldn’t be bored. The PR going into the fight would be worth the admission as Toney would be trash talking from the time he signs the contract to the time he enters the ring.

For Byrd, the Klitschko brothers present serious match up problems and neither Ruiz or Brewster match Toney for gate appeal and ultimately, money. The only big shots at any decent money or more than what he is getting paid now comes in the form of a 5-10 Toney or one of the two Ukrainian giants.

There is Samuel Peter but the last time he faced a hard punching Nigerian, he suffered his only knock out. So fighting Klitschkos or Peter is risky whereas Toney may be an easier fighter stylistically.

Neither fighter was severely tested in their card last Saturday night. So this is a fight that could be made quickly. This is an intriguing match for Byrd would be more aggressive since he would be the taller fighter.

Toney is an excellent body puncher as he showed against Guinn. Both are counter punchers but Byrd would most likely be the aggressor. Both fighters have solid chins and while Toney has the heavier punch- it is not in the same league as the Klitschkos or Peter. Both fighters would take the other guys best punches, so this fight would actually go the distance.

Byrd has two serious alternatives. The first is to fight Wladimir Klitschko, since he is the number IBF challenger. The second is to fight Toney. Either way, both fights make financial sense and Byrd would have a better shot at beating Toney than Klitschko. Which, along with the nice size purse, be the reason for him to fight Toney first