Byrd sparring with Vitali, plans to return as cruiserweight

Box_a_bryd_600_medium Two-time heavyweight titlist Chris Byrd is staying busy, helping former foe Vitali Klitschko train for Klitschko's upcoming defense against Juan Carlos Gomez, and also planning an in-ring return at cruiserweight sometime in the future.

Byrd beat Vitali in 2000 when Klitschko was forced to retire after nine rounds due to a shoulder injury suffered in the second round. The fact that Vitali boxed with basically one good arm for the majority of the bout made the official scorecards pretty remarkable. Klitschko was leading on all three by healthy margins at the time of stoppage (88-83, 88-83, 89-82).

A little over four years ago, Byrd called Vitali Klitschko "a joke" when Vitali beat but failed to knock out Danny Williams. Byrd, likely still sore at the time because nobody thought his win over Vitali was anything more than a fluke, has apparently changed his tune enough to help Vitali out. And he's a fine sparring partner choice, since Gomez is a slick southpaw like Byrd. American Tony Thompson (another lefty) is also in camp.

As for Byrd potentially returning as a cruiser? I don't like to be down on fighters, but I don't see the point. Chris is 38 years old and the glory days are gone, period. It doesn't matter what weight he fights at. He's lost three of his last four fights, all convincingly, and his only win since 2005 has come against professional opponent Paul Marinaccio.

Wladimir Klitschko destroyed Byrd for the second time in 2006, then he beat Marinaccio, and after that was knocked out by Alexander Povetkin and then Shaun George in a misguided attempt to drop a full 40 pounds and go to light heavyweight. At 175, Byrd looked so flat that everyone watching the fight was pretty certain that was the end of his career. It probably should be. George (who switched promoters and hasn't fought since that May win) is not only not a top 175-pound fighter, he's just not all that good. He will be fighting 40-year old power puncher Jaffa Ballougou on February 25 according to the listings at BoxRec.com, and if he gets knocked out I won't be shocked. Or surprised, even.

Cruiserweight has a lot of really talented fighters that I think will just pick the aged Byrd's bones. After his latest run of fights, I don't think there's a single "top" cruiser I'd pick Byrd to defeat.

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