Detroit Free Press - April 7, 2004
Wily Joe Byrd is ready to counterattack if boxing bad boy Andrew Golota resorts to underhanded tactics next week at Madison Square Garden.
"If he freaks out, we'll take it to another level," said Byrd, father and trainer of IBF heavyweight champion Chris Byrd of Flint. "Chris will hit him
from all different angles. My prediction -- we're going to win the fight."
Byrd (37-2, 20 KOs) will defend his title April 17 against Golota (38-4, 31 KOs) in New York on a card that features three other world championship
Byrd's southpaw style is expected to frustrate the bigger Golota, who has been disqualified for hitting below the belt in the past. But Joe Byrd, a
veteran corner man, isn't worried about Golota's reputation.
"First, it's up to the referee to do his job and control the bout," Joe Byrd said. "And, of course, he can't hit you there if he can't hit you."
Byrd was referring to Golota's penchant for low blows, which got him disqualified in two fights against former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe in
1996. The first disqualification set off a riot in the ring at the Garden, resulting in injury to several police officers and a dozen or more
"We will take Golota to school -- confuse him," Joe Byrd said. "We'll also make sure Chris' cup fits right, so the cup doesn't go into his groin.
That's what hurts you."
The New York State Athletic Commission won't take any chances that the fight might get out of hand. Commission chairman Ron Scott Stevens has spoken
to both camps.
"We will not tolerate any nonsense," Stevens said. "We will enforce our rules, and any conduct deemed unfit for this event will be dealt with quickly
and the consequences will be felt."
Stevens wasn't available to talk about security, but it is expected to be extra tight.
Tuesday in Chicago, Golota's trainer said he had talked with his boxer about his behavior against Byrd, who is making the second defense of his
"We talked about doing the right stuff," said Sam Colona, who guided Golota in his first 22 and last two professional fights. "He realizes his career
is on the line. I don't talk about it every day to him, but I point out that he can't act the way he has in the past."
Colona promised to put a stop to any Golota infractions. At the same time, Colona said, "if it happens, he won't have meant to do it."
Chris Byrd, who is training in Las Vegas, is looking forward to meeting Golota, who quit after the second round of his fight against Mike Tyson at the
Palace in 2000. The bout was later declared a no-contest after Tyson tested positive for marijuana.
"The guy can fight, but I'm willing to take the risk," Byrd said of Golota, a native of Poland who now lives in Chicago. "I'll be fully prepared for
anything, but he's promised everyone that nothing will happen."
Byrd, who expects to weigh 212 pounds for his title defense, has been running five miles a day through the mountains outside Las Vegas and sparring
with Malcolm Tann (10-1), a big, strong heavyweight.
"He's been pushing me around, being rough," Byrd said. "I'm prepared for Golota. It should be fun."
Most fighters haven't found Golota much fun, particularly at close quarters. But Byrd, considered one of the good guys of boxing, can't wait to step
into the ring with him.
"I feel strong and I'm really peaking," Byrd said. "Maybe I'm a little too confident, but I'm going to run this guy around. He'd better be in
Golota likely will weigh around 238-240.
"I'll have to move fast against Byrd," Golota said. "This is my last chance (for the championship), and that's why I'm taking this fight very
seriously. This is a great opportunity to show what I can really do."
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