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Knowing when to say when

Updated: May 22, 2008, 9:31 AM ET
By Dan Rafael
Your weekly random thoughts …

• Although his style of fighting has never been the most crowd pleasing, I admit it: I've always been a Chris Byrd fan. Besides the fact that he and his wife, Tracy Byrd, are two of the nicest people I have met during my boxing writing career, I always admired his fearlessness. Here was a guy who, when he said he would fight anyone, any time, anywhere, I believed him. And that was even though he was an undersized heavyweight, who routinely gave up 20-plus pounds to his opponents. He knew going into every fight that he would probably need to go the distance to win because he lacked knockout power.

I will never forget standing with Byrd at the weigh-in for Lennox Lewis' heavyweight championship defense against David Tua in November 2000. Byrd was an interested bystander because he was going to be the mandatory challenger for the winner. I asked Byrd which of them he wanted to fight. I assumed he would say Tua, who was a much more one-dimensional fighter and also much, much smaller than Lewis. So when Byrd answered that he preferred Lewis, I was surprised and asked why. His answer has stayed with me since, and it is why you have to respect Byrd, even if you didn't like watching him fight. "Because I love big guys. I love fighting big guys because nobody ever gives me a chance to win and I do," Byrd said. He beat a lot of big guys in his time and won two versions of the heavyweight title, which isn't so bad for a guy who won a silver medal in the 1992 Olympics -- as a middleweight. So it was sad to see Byrd, shedding 40 pounds and moving down to light heavyweight, get dominated before being knocked out in the ninth round by unheralded Shaun George last week. Here's hoping that Byrd realizes his career as a fighter should be over and that he moves on to something else. I've always felt that if Byrd wanted to, he could be one of the game's elite trainers.

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