George outslugs ex-champ Byrd with TKO in 9th

Updated: May 17, 2008, 11:43 AM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press