Chris Byrd vs. Ike Ibeabuchi

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Total Punches Ibeabuchi Byrd
Landed 91 84
Thrown 289 208
Pct. 31% 40%

1999-03-20 : Chris Byrd 208¾ lbs lost to Ike Ibeabuchi 244¾ lbs by TKO at 2:59 in round 5 of 10

Boxing -- Ibeabuchi Stops Byrd In 5th Round -- Olympian Suffers 2 Knockdowns In 1st Loss

By Steve Turcotte

Special To The Seattle Times

TACOMA - Chris Byrd tried to play a game of hide and seek with Ike Ibeabuchi last night.

The 1992 Olympic silver medalist hid for nearly five rounds of their heavyweight fight before Ibeabuchi found him. And when that happened, the scheduled 10-round bout was over quickly.

Ibeabuchi delivered a pair of wicked uppercuts late in the fifth round, sending Byrd to the canvas twice and prompting referee Ron Rall to stop the fight before of a sellout crowd at the Emerald Queen Casino. It was televised nationally on HBO's "Boxing After Dark."

The end came quickly for Byrd, who won three of the first four rounds.

After being floored twice late in the fifth, the fight was stopped officially with one second left in the round.

In a fight featuring two top heavyweight prospects looking for a title shot, it was Ibeabuchi who could be challenging Lennox Lewis or Evander Holyfield before the end of the year for a championship belt. Lewis and Holyfield, who fought to a controversial draw March 13, are expected to sign for a rematch within six months.

"I'm ready to go on," said Ibeabuchi, a native of Nigeria, who lives in Dallas and improved his record to 20-0 (15 knockouts).

"I'll keep training and get my chance."

Byrd, from Flint, Mich., also came into the fight unbeaten, uncut and the victim of one knockdown in his professional boxing career.

However, he fell to 26-1 and suffered a cut over his left eye.

"I'll come back," said Byrd, who won his Olympic medal as a middleweight.

"I needed this fight. I'll just have to win some more and get another shot."

Byrd controlled the fight, with his elusive style from the opening bell.

At 208 pounds, Byrd was the smaller of the two - Ibeabuchi weighed in at 244 pounds - and used his speed around the ring. Ibeabuchi was frustrated early, failing to land punches and watching Byrd slip away off the ropes.

Byrd's elusiveness worked - at least through three rounds.

"He kept making me miss," Ibeabuchi said. "But I knew I would catch him. I just had to keep throwing punches."

Late in the third round, Ibeabuchi opened a cut above Byrd's left eye. In the fourth, Ibeabuchi started landing some punches.

And in the fifth, it was over.

Ibeabuchi put Byrd against the ropes late in the round and connected on a left uppercut, knocking Byrd down.

A few seconds later, Byrd was down again after a right uppercut.

After that, the referee stopped the fight.

"I was hurt," Byrd said. "No doubt about that. He caught me with a good punch. I just got caught on the ropes by a good punch. The referee had to do what he had to do."

Byrd wins fights with his elusive style. He won that way as an amateur, and as a pro he wins the same way.

"He's a big guy and I needed to get out of his way," Byrd said. "He got me on the ropes, and I didn't get off. And then he got me with a great punch."