RENO, Nev. (AP) – Chris Byrd is a heavyweight champion of at least part of the world, though he seldom gets treated like one.

James Toney was a heavyweight champion, too, for a few days until a positive steroids test prompted the WBA to strip the belt from his waist.

Both complain they can’t get the best heavyweights to fight them. This being boxing, though, both are on the same card Saturday night – but not against each other.

Byrd has to fight a good friend in DaVarryl Williamson, while Toney gets an opponent eager for redemption in Dominick Guinn in a card that says a lot about the state of the heavyweight division in boxing these days.

“I’m happy to be fighting but I’m not happy to be fighting DaVarryl,” Byrd said. “I want to go out with major fights and as far as name value goes, nobody knows him.”

Not many know Guinn, either, but he’s the opponent for Toney in his first fight since he beat John Ruiz on April 30 to win the WBA version of the title only to have it stripped after testing positive for steroids.

“A title does not define James Toney,” Toney said. “Byrd needs it, the Klitschkos need it and Ruiz needs it. I don’t need it.”

Actually, Toney does need a title if he is to get the money that comes with the big fights. In a perfect world, he and Byrd would be fighting each other Saturday night, a fight that promoter Dan Goossen says he would like to see happen next.

“I believe between these two guys, Byrd and Toney, they are going to be the heavyweights to be reckoned with,” Goossen said

Toney (68-4-2, 43 knockouts) may believe he doesn’t need a belt but that didn’t stop promoters from making his bout a heavyweight title fight for a lightly regarded boxing organization. Byrd holds a legitimate title, but the Toney fight will be the main feature on the card at the Reno Events Center (Showtime 9:15 p.m. EDT).

Byrd, a crafty and technically proficient southpaw with little power, has fought only three times since winning his piece of the title against Evander Holyfield amid squabbling with promoter Don King over terms of a contract that was supposed to pay him $2.5 million a fight.

He’ll get much less against Williamson, and seems resigned at the age of 35 that the huge paydays may never come.

“I never expected to be champion and be at one of the lowest times of my career,” Byrd said. “I still love the sport of boxing but I don’t care for the business part of it.”

Part of that business is fighting the IBF mandatory contender in Williamson, who was knocked out in the first round by Joe Mesi two years ago, lost to Wladimir Klitschko last year, but still got the nod to fight Byrd (38-2-1, 20 knockouts).

Williamson (22-3, 18 knockouts) used to spend long hours at Byrd’s Las Vegas home training, and taught his son to play basketball. Byrd helped Williamson spar for big fights, but this time it’s business.

Joe Byrd, Byrd’s father and trainer, said he considers Williamson an adopted son.

“I can’t lose in this because both of them are my sons,” he said.

Toney and Guinn have no such relationship, but both have a lot at stake in their scheduled 12-round fight.

Toney, a 168-pound champion in the mid-1990s, resurrected his career by moving to heavyweight and beating a washed-up Evander Holyfield and then Ruiz to win the title. He didn’t have much time to celebrate, though, when he tested positive for a steroid he said was given to him while recovering from surgery for an Achilles tendon.

Toney hardly fits the profile of a steroid user, with 240 pounds hanging heavily on his 5-foot-9 frame, and he passed a pre-fight steroid test administered last week by the Nevada Athletic Commission.

“Look at this body,” Toney said. “Do I look like I use steroids?”

Guinn (25-2-1, 18 knockouts) was considered a promising heavyweight after winning his first 24 fights. But in his last four fights he lost to Monte Barrett and Serguei Lyakhovich and had a draw with Friday Ahunanya.

“It’s do or die for me,” Guinn said. “Either kill me or be killed, that’s how I’m looking at it.”

AP-ES-09-30-05 1545EDT


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