Growing up I've been a big time Boxing fan. I haven't been able to watch all the fights over the years, but I always make sure to keep up with how the fighters I liked were doing. My favorite fighter has always been Chris Byrd. Byrd was never really viewed as THE guy, and I felt he got more than his fair share of criticism, but I think he more than held his own in a weight class (Heavyweight) that was several above his natural weight.
He fought everyone that would fight him and many of the fighters just flat out refused to fight him for one reason or another. That list of fighters who avoided Byrd includes the future Hall of Famer Lennox Lewis. Admittedly I don't know if Lewis was "afraid" of Byrd, but I think he viewed Chris as a "high risk low reward" venture, seeing as how a lot of people would downtalk him and act like he didn't even deserve to be in the ring with heavyweights. One of those people was Lewis himself who talked often about how Byrd was too small and couldn't punch.
So Lewis gave up his belt, the very thing that fighters typically fight for in addition to pride and respect of their peers, rather than fight Byrd. Chris would go on to beat Evander Holyfield (another fighter who refused to fight Byrd until he had no other options) for Lewis' vacated strap.
MORE AFTER THE BREAK
Over the course of his career he had a lot of wins, and a few losses including a couple devastating knockout losses to Wladimir Klitschko (in the rematch to the first fight which Wlad won on a 12 round decision), and Ike Ibeabuchi. Both of those losses were hard to watch, and I'm sure were even harder to go through, yet Byrd picked himself back up and kept on fighting, and eventually would retire with a very good record of 41-5-1 with 22 Knockout victories.
Also something to think about, those five losses include 4 at heavyweight, all to fighters that outweighed him by about 15lbs or more (Wladimir twice, Ike and Alexander Povetkin).
After he retired I hadn't heard much about him with the exception of an interview here or there, and then today I stumbled across his new boxing webseries "The Byrds Eye View" which Chris describes as a boxing show that will provide commentary from former, current and on the rise boxing stars. In a new interview Chris talks about his frustration at a lot of the negative commentators for outlets like HBO who have never fought before, and yet are so quick with the negative comments and so quick to pass judgement on a man's character and integrity when it comes to a loss.
As he noted, there are times when someone is dismissed as being done after a single loss. Perhaps that is an insight into how Floyd Mayweather Jr. is viewed as constantly protective of that undefeated record. Perhaps he realizes all too well growing up in a boxing family, how quick the media and fanbase can turn on someone after a fighter loses.
I just finished watching the premiere episode of The Byrds Eye View, released early in a "rough cut" form in time for the Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado fight this weekend. In the video Chris talks to both fighters about their training and preparation for the fight, as well as other things.
I thought this was a very interesting undertaking for Byrd. I've long thought he should get into commentating, and he addresses that in a way in the intro to the series by pointing out that there aren't that many former boxers that are commentating. There's some here and there, but aside from a small handful that gets consistent work such as Lennox Lewis and Roy Jones Jr., there's really not that many.
In the interview he also lamented the fact that during the Olympic Boxing matches this past summer, there were no former Olympic boxers calling the action for the American networks, while over in London they had several former Olympians. Who better to know what the boxers are going through then those who have literally been through that before?
Now seeing as how this is a "Rough cut" so to speak, I can't be overly critical of it, but I would like to point out something that I did notice almost immediately, and that is that Chris doesn't seem completely at ease in front of the camera. And what I mean by that is, he can talk and hold the conversation fine, but I think that as he goes on, and he does more of these shows and gets more and more familiar and used to the routine, it will come off much more conversational and fluid.
There were times when it felt like he was reciting questions, rather than simply casually asking them. I think that once he gets several episodes under his belt he's going to become much more comfortable as an interviewer, and things will get much more smooth.
It's similar to how Jimmy Fallon when he first started out on his Late Night gig, I watched that 1st episode and was just shocked by how terrible he was. I felt that he just felt so uneasy and stumbling a bit, and I didn't know if he would be on the air very long. I thought his jokes seemed forced, and he didn't show any of the charm that I knew he had from watching him on Saturday Night Live. He seemed more of "Movie" Jimmy than "SNL" Jimmy, if that makes sense. He wasn't relaxed.
Over the years he's relaxed immensely, and as he's done more shows, he's gotten the hang of what to do, he's come into his own and I think he's the most entertaining guy on late night right now, personally. Also he clearly has the best Late Night band in history with World Famous Roots Crew. That part isn't even up for debate.
So I think Chris will get better as he goes on, and I'm sure this isn't something that is a surprise to him. I think anyone starting something out for the first time, there's a learning curve. While I don't consider myself an "interviewer", I have done some interviews on this site (you can see read them by clicking on the appropriate section to the right of this article and scroll down/up for the Interviews Section), and early on I don't know if I was that good. Still not entirely sure, but it's gotten easier is what I mean.
Overall, I think this was a solid first outing. The video clocked in at a little under 20 minutes, and I think it's a good start to the series. He's got two really good fighters on his show, and I'm eager to see more. Below I have embedded the very first episode. Feel free to click through and leave a comment for Chris. Be respectful no matter what your opinion is.
Airing Thursdays on his Youtube channel "ChrisByrdBoxing" The Byrd's Eye View will bring you interviews and commentary on Boxing by those who know it best: Boxers. Don't miss it!