Christopher Cornelius "Chris" Byrd (born August 15, 1970) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1993 to 2009. He is a two-time world heavyweight champion, having first won the WBO title in 2000 after an upset corner stoppage over then-undefeated Vitali Klitschko. In his first title defense later that year, he lost to Vitali's brother Wladimir Klitschko. In 2002, Byrd defeated Evander Holyfield to win the IBF heavyweight title for his second reign as world champion. He made four successful defenses until losing his title again to Wladimir Klitschko in a 2006 rematch. Byrd's cousin, Lamon Brewster, has a shared history with Wladimir Klitschko: Brewster defeated him in 2004, but lost in a 2007 rematch.
As an amateur, Byrd represented the United States at the 1992 Summer Olympics and won a silver medal in the middleweight division. He is also a three-time national amateur champion, winning the light middleweight title in 1989, and the middleweight title in 1991 and 1992.
Chris Byrd was the youngest of eight children growing up in Flint, Michigan. He began boxing at age 5, training in his father (Joe Sr.)'s Joe Byrd Boxing Academy. His father continued to train and manage Byrd as a professional. Byrd attended Flint Northwestern High School.
Byrd began competing in the ring at age 10, and compiled an impressive 275 wins in the amateur ranks. He was a three-time U.S. amateur champion (1989, 1991, and 1992). He was on the 1991 U.S. National boxing Team that became the first (and only) U.S. team to score a tie against the heralded Cuban team. Byrd won the silver medal in the 1992 Barcelona summer Olympics as a middleweight, losing to Cuba's Ariel Hernández in the final.
Byrd turned professional on January 28, 1993, knocking out 10 of his first 13 opponents. Byrd moved up to heavyweight three fights into his professional career.
Byrd remained undefeated for his first 26 fights, knocking off then-notable opponents like Phil Jackson, Lionel Butler, Uriah Grant, Bert Cooper, Craig Peterson, Frankie Swindell, Jimmy Thunder, undefeated Eliecer Castillo and Ross Puritty.
However, in 1999, Byrd's undefeated record came to a dead end when he fought undefeated Ike Ibeabuchi. With 48 seconds left in the fifth round, a left-handed bolo punch followed with a right hook sent Byrd to the canvas, face first.
During the last week of March 2000, Byrd was offered the chance to be the replacement (for Donovan Ruddock) against undefeated champion Vitali Klitschko in Berlin, Germany (Klitschko's adopted home country) for the WBO Heavyweight Title. He therefore had only seven days to prepare for the fight (not the customary 6–12 weeks). Byrd struggled greatly in the fight, trailing after nine rounds by scores of 88–83 (on two cards) and 89–82 (on one card), i.e. losing seven or eight of those rounds. However, Klitschko severely injured his shoulder and was unable to continue after the ninth round. The injury that Klitschko suffered was a torn shoulder rotator cuff, which required major surgery and a 7-month lay-off. Despite trailing on all three of the judges' scorecards, Byrd walked away the winner by a technical knockout due to the injury to Klitschko.
Six months later, Byrd was back in Germany to defend the title against Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali's younger, more agile brother. Twelve rounds later, Byrd had lost a lopsided unanimous decision and the WBO belt after being knocked down twice.
Byrd returned to the U.S., signed with Don King and beat Maurice Harris to win the United States Boxing Association heavyweight belt in Madison Square Garden. He was now a top-five contender for the IBF title. After winning his next match (a title defense against New Zealand's top contender David Tua) Byrd eventually received his mandatory shot at the vacant IBF world Heavyweight Championship against Evander Holyfield in Atlantic City. On December 14, 2002, Byrd won a unanimous decision and the IBF title.
Byrd has successfully defended the IBF belt against: Fres Oquendo in 2003 (match ended in a controversial win for Byrd in which most people felt Oquendo won), a highly entertaining draw with "Andrew" Golota and a decision win over friend Jameel McCline in 2004, and DaVarryl Williamson in 2005. Byrd's fight with Golota did 75,000 buys on Pay per View
On April 22, 2006, Byrd faced Wladimir Klitschko for the second time. Byrd was making his fifth defense of his IBF title and the fight was also sanctioned by the International Boxing Organization for its title, which had been vacated upon the retirement of Lennox Lewis. The fight took place at SAP Arena in Mannheim, Germany. Byrd was heavily dominated throughout the fight, was down in the fifth, and again in the seventh. Referee Wayne Kelly stopped the fight after the second knockdown when Byrd had an open cut near his eyes. Klitschko won in a TKO
After losing to Alexander Povetkin, Byrd would drop about 40 pounds to return to the light heavyweight division. He fought Shaun George on May 16, 2008, at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. Byrd was dropped by George in round one and rocked again in round two. George then hammered Byrd with his right hand at will, finally flooring Byrd twice in the ninth round. Byrd beat the count after the first knockdown, but was then battered down again and the bout was waved off by the referee.
In 2010, Byrd officially announced his retirement from boxing.
|Professional record summary|
|47 fights||41 wins||5 losses|
|47||Win||41–5–1||Matthias Sandow||TKO||4 (8), 1:30||Mar 21, 2009||Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle, Stuttgart, Germany|
|46||Loss||40–5–1||Shaun George||TKO||9 (10), 2:42||May 16, 2008||Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.|
|45||Loss||40–4–1||Alexander Povetkin||TKO||11 (12), 1:52||Oct 27, 2007||Messe, Erfurt, Germany|
|44||Win||40–3–1||Paul Marinaccio||RTD||7 (10), 0:01||Apr 18, 2007||Clifford Park, Nassau, Bahamas|
|43||Loss||39–3–1||Wladimir Klitschko||TKO||7 (12), 0:41||Apr 22, 2006||SAP Arena, Mannheim, Germany||Lost IBF heavyweight title;
For vacant IBO heavyweight title
|42||Win||39–2–1||DaVarryl Williamson||UD||12||Oct 01, 2005||Events Center, Reno, Nevada, U.S.||Retained IBF heavyweight title|
|41||Win||38–2–1||Jameel McCline||SD||12||Nov 13, 2004||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained IBF heavyweight title|
|40||Draw||37–2–1||Andrew Golota||SD||12||Apr 17, 2004||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Retained IBF heavyweight title|
|39||Win||37–2||Fres Oquendo||UD||12||Sep 20, 2003||Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut, U.S.||Retained IBF heavyweight title|
|38||Win||36–2||Evander Holyfield||UD||12||Dec 14, 2002||Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.||Won vacant IBF heavyweight title|
|37||Win||35–2||Jeff Pegues||TKO||3 (10), 2:43||Jun 8, 2002||Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, U.S.|
|36||Win||34–2||David Tua||UD||12||Aug 18, 2001||Cox Pavilion, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.||Retained USBA heavyweight title|
|35||Win||33–2||Maurice Harris||UD||12||May 12, 2001||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||Won vacant USBA heavyweight title|
|34||Win||32–2||David Vedder||UD||10||Jan 19, 2001||Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, U.S.|
|33||Loss||31–2||Wladimir Klitschko||UD||12||Oct 14, 2000||Kölnarena, Cologne, Germany||Lost WBO heavyweight title|
|32||Win||31–1||Vitali Klitschko||RTD||9 (12), 3:00||Apr 1, 2000||Estrel Hotel, Berlin, Germany||Won WBO heavyweight title|
|31||Win||30–1||David Washington||TKO||10 (10)||Jan 19, 2000||Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, U.S.|
|30||Win||29–1||Val Smith||KO||2 (10), 2:39||Oct 22, 1999||Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|29||Win||28–1||Jose Ribalta||RTD||3 (10), 3:00||Jun 3, 1999||Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, U.S.|
|28||Win||27–1||John Sargent||TKO||2 (10), 2:03||May 8, 1999||Silver Star Casino, Philadelphia, Mississippi, U.S.|
|27||Loss||26–1||Ike Ibeabuchi||TKO||5 (10), 2:59||Mar 20, 1999||Emerald Queen Casino, Tacoma, Washington, U.S.|
|26||Win||26–0||Ross Puritty||UD||10||Jul 14, 1998||Casino Magic, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, U.S.|
|25||Win||25–0||Eliecer Castillo||UD||10||May 30, 1998||Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|24||Win||24–0||Derek Amos||TKO||6 (10)||Mar 28, 1998||Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|23||Win||23–0||Jimmy Thunder||TKO||9 (10), 1:07||Dec 13, 1997||Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S.|
|22||Win||22–0||Frankie Swindell||UD||10||Jun 20, 1997||Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|21||Win||21–0||Bert Cooper||UD||10||Mar 18, 1997||IMA Sports Arena, Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|20||Win||20–0||Craig Petersen||TKO||6 (10), 2:22||Jan 28, 1997||The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|19||Win||19–0||Levi Billups||UD||10||Oct 8, 1996||IMA Sports Arena, Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|18||Win||18–0||Uriah Grant||UD||10||Aug 6, 1996||IMA Sports Arena, Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|17||Win||17–0||Biko Botowamungu||UD||10||May 17, 1996||Stock Arena, Monroe, Michigan, U.S.|
|16||Win||16–0||Lionel Butler||TKO||8 (10), 0:57||Apr 23, 1996||The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|15||Win||15–0||Jeff Wooden||UD||10||Jan 30, 1996||The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|14||Win||14–0||Phil Jackson||UD||12||Nov 21, 1996||The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|13||Win||13–0||Nathaniel Fitch||KO||7 (10)||Oct 3, 1995||IMA Sports Arena, Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|12||Win||12–0||Tim Puller||TKO||5 (10), 2:55||Jul 18, 1995||IMA Sports Arena, Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|11||Win||11–0||Arthur Williams||SD||10||May 23, 1995||The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|10||Win||10–0||Joel Humm||RTD||4 (8)||Apr 26, 1995||The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|9||Win||9–0||Mike Rouse||TKO||6 (12), 1:56||Mar 28, 1995||IMA Sports Arena, Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Frankie Hines||TKO||2, 0:59||Jan 1, 1995||Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.|
|7||Win||7–0||Ron Gullette||TKO||5||Nov 1, 1994||Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|6||Win||6–0||Waxxen Fikes||TKO||4 (8), 2:49||Oct 4, 1994||The Palace, Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.|
|5||Win||5–0||Max Key||KO||1||Aug 30, 1994||Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|4||Win||4–0||Gerard O'Neal||TKO||2 (6)||Jun 7, 1994||Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||Exum Speight||UD||6||Mar 22, 1994||Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Mike Sullivan||TKO||1||May 15, 1993||Flint, Michigan, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||Gary Smith||UD||6||Jan 28, 1993||IMA Sports Arena, Flint, Michigan, U.S.||Professional debut|
Byrd hosts a weekly video podcast, entitled "Byrd's Eye View", which showcases former boxers as well as current professional and champion-level fighters.
|Amateur boxing titles|
|U.S. light middleweight champion
|U.S. middleweight champion
|Regional boxing titles|
Title last held byDavid Tua
|USBA heavyweight champion
May 12, 2001 – December 14, 2002
Won world title
Title next held byTye Fields
|World boxing titles|
|WBO heavyweight champion
April 1, 2000 – October 14, 2000
Title last held byLennox Lewis
|IBF heavyweight champion
December 14, 2002 – April 22, 2006