BANNER SIGNS CHRIS BYRD
Banner Promotions’ president Art Pelullo has signed former IBF and WBO heavyweight world champion Chris Byrd to a promotional contract.
Art said today, “I’m very pleased to announce this major signing. I’ve been a fan and friend of Chris’ for a long time, and I’m looking forward very much to working with him.
“I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people, but Chris – the former two-time heavyweight champ – is going to be fighting at 175 pounds. I think he’s going to make some great fights in the division, and I think he’s going to win the world championship.
“We’re going to take the first step towards that goal on May 16 when Chris fights on ESPN’s ‘Friday Night Fights’ at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, in the PH ring sponsored by Planet Hollywood.”
Chris previously fought at the Cox Pavillion in 2001 and beat David Tua in an IBF heavyweight elimination bout.
Chris said, “I’m excited to work with Artie Pellulo and Banner Promotions and look forward to becoming the light heavyweight champion of the world as soon as possible. I know Roy Jones Jr. and Robert Fitzsimmons won titles at heavyweight and then light heavyweight, but I’ll be the first two-time heavyweight champion to move down to light heavy to win the title.
“It’s been eight years since I won my first heavyweight title against Vitali Klitschko, and I had a great run as heavyweight champion after beating Evander Holyfield. Now, it’s time for new challenges. All along I thought they would be at cruiserweight, but the pounds just kept coming off, and here I am!
“I’m looking forward to being on ESPN so that the people can see me at 175. I was a regular on cable back when I started, and the fans always let me know that they saw those fights and appreciated my style. I expect to show everyone that I’ll be dominant at this weight, but I know that every guy I face will be coming to knock off the former heavyweight champion. So, I’ll train extra hard to make sure they don’t get any ideas.
“The best at 175 are guys my age with a lot of experience – Antonio Tarver, Jones, Clinton Woods, Glen Johnson, Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe – and with one or two fights, I expect to be in that mix, making great fights between great fighters at light heavyweight.”
Chris, now 40-4-1 with 21 knockouts, won the WBO heavyweight world title in April, 2000. He won the IBF heavyweight world title in December, 2002, and made four successful title defenses. A native of Flint, Michigan, he represented the United States in the 1992 Olympics and won the silver medal at 165 pounds.
At 37, he won’t be the oldest of the contenders and champions at light heavyweight – Hopkins is 43 years old. Johnson, Jones, and Tarver are all 39, and Calzaghe and Woods are 35.