Holt & Byrd: Two Fighters At A Crucial Point

By Tom Donelson
Updated: April 22, 2007

Chris Byrd

Chris Byrd

Kendall Holt

Kendall Holt

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Chris Byrd came back. Sort of. Last Wednesday, Chris Byrd out boxed Paul Marinaccio easily and looked like the Byrd of old. Slipping punches and striking Marinaccio with slick combinations, Byrd looked like he was 26 years old.

But before one gets too excited, Marinaccio is not an elite fighter. His record look impressive but most of his victory occurred in the Carolinas and not against top competition.

His previous step up against Timor Ibragimov ended in defeat, and Byrd simply treated Marinaccio as a punching bag and the poor Marinaccio simply did not have the skills to keep up.

Byrd is a unique individual in the fight game. This is boxing�s Boy Scout. He never threatened eat another fighter children or rip out an opponent heart. Nor does he taunt his opponent.

In a boxing era in which heavyweights often weighed closer to 250 and with heights resembling NBA centers, Byrd weighs 210 or less and stood six foot. Nor did he have a power punch like a Mike Tyson that sent shivers down an opponent spine.

What he did have was hand speed, defensive wizardry and tough chin that allowed him to take the bigger punch. You add his tactical skills and this goes a long way to explain why he was able to beat far bigger fighters and be a champion. For the past decade, he was one of the Heavyweight best fighters.

Byrd talks of fighting for another shot at the Heavyweight title and there have been talk of an attempt for the cruiserweight title. Byrd told ESPN’s Teddy Atlas that he is fighting for fun and feels that he has already accomplish his goal of being a heavyweight champions, so it is hard to really discern what Byrd truly wants.

Byrd’s biggest dilemma is that the best fighter in the division is still Wladimir Klitschko and as he told Teddy Atlas, Klitschko is his kryptonite. Byrd has resigned himself to the fact that Klitschko has the style to beat him and there is not much that Byrd can do to beat Klitschko.

So maybe the path for Byrd is to move down and challenge the best in the Cruiserweight but even this is not a certain. At the age of 36, Byrd is at the point of his career that his speed is starting to leave him and that is the one gift that he could never avoid to lose.

Kendall Holt had one obstacle for a possible junior welterweight title and that was Mike Arnaoutis, a slick boxer. The Holt-Arnaoutis match was a battle between two counterpunchers and when two counter punchers meet, it could lead to a boring affair. In boxing, just as in dancing, it takes two to tango.

If two fighters seemed reluctant to commit, it becomes a chest match. Holt speed spooked Arnaoutis and the normally aggressive Greek proved tentative throughout most of the bout. This was a fight fought at Holt�s pace and Holt simply pot shot Arnaoutis throughout the night.

For the first nine rounds, this was a fight in which one visible flurry could win or lose a round for a fighter and in most rounds; it was Holt who had the one decisive flurry. In the 10th round, Arnaoutis became more aggressive but Holt delivered some nasty right hand body shots.

Arnaoutis winced as he got nailed by a couple of those hard rights in the 10th and this slowed his attack. He came out in the final stanza, feeling that he needed a knock out to win.

Holt took one half step back as Arnaoutis charged out to meet him and unleashed a right hand that sent Arnaoutis on his butt. From this point, whatever chance that the Greek fighter had of winning ended. And the judges had Holt winning rather easily.

Holt now faces Ricardo Torres, for the WBO version of the junior Welterweight title. If he is able to wrestle Torres� title, then he would the 16th ShoBox fighter to win the title.

For Byrd, his future is murky and even he doesn�t know the path he will take. For Holt, he is now in line for a title shot. Two fighters, two different paths to travel.