Showtime delivers with their heavyweight doubleheader Saturday night. At the top of the card is Chris Byrd defending his IBF belt against DaVarryl “Touch of Sleep” Williamson. Byrd's no KO artist, but he's the exemplary showman, and the brother can still box beautifully. But he’s also slowing down, getting old, and when men get old, watch out, here come the (relatively) young. Is it time for a changing of the guard in the heavyweight division? Or does Byrd finesse another win and retain his title? This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.
Byrd is going to outbox a wild Williamson to win a decision.
DaVarryl Williamson has arrived at his last, best chance for claiming heavyweight glory. At the age of 37 and with a couple of solid wins in row, Williamson faces a Chris Byrd who has been out of the ring for nearly a year. Byrd is also no youngster and he is totally dependent on speed and an ability to get out of the way of big shots – skills that usually fade the earliest. DaVarryl put up a good effort against the rejuvenated Wladimir Klitschko, even scoring a knockdown, before losing a technical decision and he must figure that puts him a notch above Byrd who was almost shutout against the big Ukrainian. Unfortunately boxing does not work that way. Styles truly do make fights and “Touch of Sleep” figures to have a tough night against the slippery IBF titlist. Count on Byrd to have enough left in his aging body to frustrate Williamson from the outset. Although Williamson has better than average power, it certainly does not rank with either of the Klitschkos, David Tua, or even Andrew Golota – and Chris was able to weather each storm to the final bell. Williamson will give it his all but he'll miss often and simply not be able to figure out the puzzle that is Chris Byrd. Byrd by decision.
Byrd has slowed down a bit of late and has been taking, and giving, more punches than in the past. While it makes for a more exciting fight, it isn't necessarily a good thing. Williamson can crack some but I still don't see him hitting Byrd clean enough to win the fight. His only chance is a knockout – and like Samuel Peter last weekend, it likely won't come. A Byrd win would set up a major payday in a huge rematch against Wladimir Klitschko – provided the networks allow it to happen – and sometimes what is best for boxing is what eventually transpires. Byrd by decision.
Chris Byrd is too skilled a boxer to go the distance with Williamson and not get the decision. But the ungainly “Touch of Sleep” brings that puncher's chance. His style notwithstanding, Byrd has proven to be of the grittiest boxers around. He'll be prepared for Sleep's dangerous right hand and won't get caught clean. Byrd by decision.
Byrd-Williamson should be short and sweet; Byrd is a cut above Williamson and will outbox him to get the decision.
You have to love Byrd for his brawn and guts, but I think DaVarryl will reach him with enough right hands to eke out a close decision. Williamson W 12.
I think Byrd can frustrate and out-peck Williamson to a UD, and further drive couch potatoes bonkers with his greased-pig act. Williamson can crack with his straight right, but he's deliberate – orthodox, not the rampaging beast Ibeabuchi was. DaVarryl’s best shot to land that right would be to make Byrd lead, which he’s uncomfortable with, and which Fres Oquendo exploited. But Byrd takes a good enough pop, one-at-time, and his touches should add up to a higher score at the end.
One thing I can predict in this fight is that Chris Byrd won't knock Williamson out. We all know that, but look for Byrd to use his fast hands and movement to defend his title. I don't see Williamson catching Byrd because he's not quick enough for the unorthodox Byrd who will flurry and hold and dance his way to another title defense.
Chris Byrd has outboxed better fighters than Williamson. Byrd by decision.
Chris Byrd’s last three fights have all been close calls. His quick, defense-minded attack seems to be losing a step. Three years ago, he would have danced circles around DaVarryl Williamson. Now, the slower speed and inactivity for almost a year may be just the edge “Touch of Sleep” needs. Williamson by split decision.