Chris Byrd

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Chris Byrd
Christopher Cornelius Byrd

(1970-08-15) August 15, 1970 (age 53)
Other namesRapid Fire
Height6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Reach74 in (188 cm)
Boxing record
Total fights47
Wins by KO22
Medal record
Men's amateur boxing
Representing  United States
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1992 Barcelona Middleweight

Christopher Cornelius 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. He was ranked by BoxRec in the world's top 10 heavyweight from 1998 to 2004, reaching his highest ranking of No.3 in 2000.[1]

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.

Early life[edit]

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.

Amateur career[edit]

Byrd began competing in the ring at age 10, since then he had 285 amateur fights in various weight classes, compiled an impressive record of 275 wins, 10 losses. 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.

Amateur highlights[edit]

  • Lost in the 1988 Olympic Trials at Light Welterweight, losing to eventual United States representative Todd Foster.
  • 1989 United States Amateur Light Middleweight Champion
  • 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle, lost to Torsten Schmitz (East Germany) on points, in Light Middleweight competition.
  • 1991 United States Amateur Middleweight Champion
  • 1991 World Championships, lost at Middlweight to Ramon Garbey (Cuba)
  • 1992 United States Amateur Middleweight Champion
  • 1992 Middleweight Gold Medalist at Canada Cup. Results were:
  • 1992 Qualified as a Middleweight at the Olympic Trials in Worcester, MA. Results were:
  • Captured the Middleweight Silver Medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Results were:

Professional career[edit]

1993–1998: early career[edit]

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.

1999: Byrd vs. Ibeabuchi, comeback victories[edit]

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.

2000: first world title, facing the Klitschkos[edit]

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 was 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, Byrd was arguably Vitali's most difficult opponent as he landed clean shots and made him miss regularly, resulting Klitschko severely injured his shoulder and being 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. While most consider this a fluke win for Byrd, nobody (including Lennox Lewis) gave Vitali a more difficult fight before that and since. Vitali landed at a much lower percentage and while he threw more, Byrd almost landed as many punches as him.

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.

2001–2002: comeback victories, second world title[edit]

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.

2003–2005: four successful title defenses[edit]

Byrd has successfully defended the IBF belt against: Fres Oquendo in 2003, 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.[2]

2006: Klitschko rematch[edit]

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.

2007–2010: Povetkin bout, move to light heavyweight, and retirement[edit]

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.[3]

In 2010, Byrd officially announced his retirement from boxing.[4]

Life outside boxing[edit]

Byrd hosts a weekly video podcast, entitled "Byrd's Eye View", which showcases former boxers as well as current professional and champion-level fighters.[5]

Additional information[edit]

  • Byrd's hometown is Flint, Michigan, where he trained along with his brother Patrick Byrd and sister Tracy Byrd. Byrd's other sister, Laurie Byrd, is a professional basketball coach. Byrd is also a first cousin of Lamon Brewster, himself a former world heavyweight champion and two-time Klitschko opponent.
  • Byrd's corner consisted entirely of family members
  • Byrd made an appearance in the 2008 documentary Beyond the Ropes.[6]
  • Byrd also makes an appearance in the 2011 documentary Klitschko, in which he discusses his trio of title bouts with the brothers.[7]

Professional boxing record[edit]

47 fights 41 wins 5 losses
By knockout 22 4
By decision 19 1
Draws 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
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 1, 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 IBF–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 IBF–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.

Television viewership[edit]


Date Fight Viewership (avg.) Network Source(s)
April 1, 2000
Vitali Klitschko vs. Chris Byrd
Sat.1 [8]
October 14, 2000
Chris Byrd vs. Wladimir Klitschko
Sat.1 [9]
April 24, 2006
Chris Byrd vs. Wladimir Klitschko II
Das Erste [10]
October 27, 2007
Chris Byrd vs. Alexander Povetkin
Das Erste [11]
Total viewership 33,920,000

US pay-per-view bouts[edit]

Date Fight Pay-per-view buys Network Source(s)
April 17, 2004 Chris Byrd vs. Andrew Golota
Spike TV/King Vision [12][13]
December 11, 2004 Chris Byrd vs. Jameel McCline
HBO PPV [14][12][15]
Total sales 195,000

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "BoxRec's Annual Ratings: Heavyweight Annuals". BoxRec. Retrieved 16 December 2023.
  2. ^ Rafael, Dan (2004-05-12). "Where are the new heavyweights?". USA Today. Retrieved 2022-08-02.
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 May 2008. Retrieved 17 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Chris Byrd: Nobody beats Wladimir Klitschko right now". 4 June 2010. Retrieved December 28, 2016.
  5. ^ "Chris Byrd". YouTube. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  6. ^ "Beyond the Ropes (Video 2008)". IMDb. 14 October 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  7. ^ Munch MaQuchi (21 October 2011). "Klitschko (2011)". IMDb. Retrieved 26 February 2015.
  8. ^ 9,79 Millionen sahen WM-Kampf von Vitali Klitschko: Beste SAT.1-Quote seit fast zwei Jahren (ger.)
  9. ^ Wladimir Klitschko is the new world champion (German)
  10. ^ More than 10 million viewers saw Klitschko fight (German)
  11. ^ Das Ertse and RTL show strong numbers Archived 2020-03-03 at the Wayback Machine (ger.)
  12. ^ a b Where are the new heavyweights? By Dan Rafael, USA TODAY
  13. ^ 2004-04-17 Chris Byrd vs Andrew Golota - IBF World Heavyweight Title
  14. ^ Chris Byrd vs Jameel Mccline HBO Pay Per View November 13, 2004
  15. ^ "Chicago Tribune". Chicago Tribune. 7 January 2005. Archived from the original on 2022-05-24.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Amateur boxing titles
Frankie Liles
U.S. light middleweight champion
Paul Vaden
Michael DeMoss
U.S. middleweight champion
1991, 1992
Eric Wright
Regional boxing titles
Title last held by
David Tua
IBF–USBA heavyweight champion
May 12, 2001 – December 14, 2002
Won world title
Title next held by
Tye Fields
World boxing titles
Preceded by WBO heavyweight champion
April 1, 2000October 14, 2000
Succeeded by
Title last held by
Lennox Lewis
IBF heavyweight champion
December 14, 2002April 22, 2006
Succeeded by
Wladimir Klitschko