I didn’t even realize this fight was today, but when I got back from my roadwork it was just starting, so I got to watch some good afternoon boxing.
I must say that I was very impressed with Klitschko. His footwork is still very awkward, and he seems to be falling backwards as he punches alot, but his straight right is quicker than I’ve ever seen it, and he seems to be a much smarter fighter than before.
The first round really set the stage for the whole fight. Byrd was not really able to get inside on Klitschko. More importantly, he seemed intent on parrying Klitschko’s jabs instead of slipping them. I thought at the time that he was overcommitting to his parries, and that if and when Klitschko started hooking off his jab or shooting straight rights, Byrd would be in trouble. Also, Byrd did not seem strong enough to knock down Klitschko’s punches. I really don’t understand why - with his superior upper body movement - Byrd choose to stand right in front of Klitschko and parry his blows instead of trying to slip.
In the second round going forward, Byrd’s overcommitment to his parries left him wide open for some sharp rights, and eventually same nice 2-3 combinations from Klitschko. The first knockdown came on a very quick 1-2 from Klitschko. Byrd showed great heart in lasting almost a full two minutes after the knockdown, and Klitschko was smart enough not to punch himself out as he did against Brewster.
I thought the eventual stoppage was a good one. Byrd definitely could have continued, but at that point he was impossibly behind on the cards, had a nasty cut over his eye, and had showed no ability to get to Klitschko or avoid his punches. Suddenly, Klitschko has to once again be considered one of the top heavyweights out there, while Byrd’s career is likely over. His last fight - though a victory over Davarryl Williamson - was lackluster, and there will not be a whole lot of opponents lining up to offer him a chance at redemption. Perhaps he could fight a Ruiz or Brewster to try to earn himself another title shot. I always thought a fight with Toney would be fascinating from a technical standpoint too.