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George outslugs ex-champ Byrd with TKO in 9th

5/17/2008 - Boxing

LAS VEGAS -- Shaun George stunned Chris Byrd in the former
IBF and WBO heavyweight champion's first pro fight as a light
heavyweight, stopping him in the ninth round Friday night at Cox
Pavilion.

Fighting in the 175-pound division for the first time in his
15-year career, the 37-year-old Byrd was knocked down in the first
round, then was floored twice in the ninth before referee Jay Nady
stopped the fight.

Byrd separated his shoulder on the first knockdown in the ninth
and was taken to a hospital following the fight. He dropped roughly
50 pounds from the last time he fought in October 2007, and wasn't
used to the speed of the division.

"[Byrd] came in and lost too much weight. There is no way in
the world you can do that," said Tommy Brooks, George's trainer.
"George has hands that are faster than handcuffs on lightning. I
knew that is was over after the first round, baby."

That showed in the ninth round when George's speed and energy
level were too much for Byrd to overcome. George recorded his first
knockout of the round at the 2:10 mark.

George (17-2-2) was supposed to be a warmup for Byrd to become
familiar with division in hopes of a mega-fight against Roy Jones
Jr.

"I'm not sure if he underestimated me, but everyone else did,"
George said. "I should have put him away in the first round, but
he is crafty. I gave him a lot of movement and made him look
stationary."

George, not considered a power fighter with just seven career
knockouts, sent Byrd (40-5-1) to the canvas with a flurry of quick
shots in the opening round. A right firmly connected to knockdown
Byrd 2:45 into the round.

Byrd, 5-2-1 in heavyweight title fights, was no stranger to
competing at lower weights. He won a silver medal at the 1992
Olympics in Barcelona at 165 pounds, also capturing a pair of
United States amateur titles in the same division. But after 45
professional fights at heavyweight, he couldn't make the
transition.

"I was thinking about it in the locker room and kind of felt
bad for him," George said. "But this is boxing, people win and
people lose. It's sad for any boxer, especially one who has been
successful like that, to take a loss."

On the undercard, Russia's Ruslan Provodnikov unanimously
outpointed Brian Gordon of Bakersfield, Calif., in a junior
welterweight bout to remain undefeated.

Provodnikov (8-0) nearly floored Gordon (4-1) in the third round
of the six-round fight, but had to settle for the win by decision,
with scores of 59-55, 58-56 and 60-54.