After a tremendous run through the 2010 M-1 Selection light heavyweight tournament, Byron Byrd sits next in line for a shot at the M-1 Challenge light heavyweight championship belt and he knows what he has to do. “Winning the Selections tournament kicked my career into high gear,” says the Orlando, Florida native. “M-1 gave me the opportunity to fight on a much larger stage very early in my career and I handled things from my end. I know what I’m here for and now I want the belt.”

Throughout 2009, the American Top Team stand out had a total of seven fights cancelled on him. “Every fight was pulled due to my opponent getting injured in training, not being able to make weight or the promotion cancelled. I even had an amateur title shot get pulled because the title holder got injured,” says Byrd. “So now, after prepping for fights only to have them not happen for one reason or another, I finally got to fight in 2010. Needless to say I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to start my career with M-1.”

Having watched M-1 Challenge XXII from the sidelines, Byrd was vocal about the new chip on his shoulder regarding being passed over for the shot to become the organizations inaugural LHW champ. “I thought my Selections tournament performances were worthy of meeting Vasilevsky before Narkun but those decisions aren’t up to me. But my time is fast approaching.”

When asked about the matchup between Vasilevsky and Narkun, Byrd’s hollered through the phone. “It was exciting and went exactly the way I wanted it to. I believe I’d walk through Narkun had he won. I wanted to fight Vasilevsky… he was simply the better fighter and he and I are going to give the fans an awesome fight.” Speaking about their future meeting, Byrd opened up, “We’re well matched and are both very fast. And the way I see it, I’m going into his house, his home and going to take his belt. All the pressure is on him and I’m not travelling all that way to come home empty handed.”

The key difference between Vasilevsky and Byrd come fight time is going to be the size difference; with Vasilevsky barley tipping the 191lb mark for his last fight, Byrd will stand across from him with a 30 pound weight advantage. “I know I’ll be bigger than him but that’s something their camp needs to plan for. He’s 11-1 fighting as an undersized 205’er so something is working for him. I can’t take anything away from that.” But clearly size does matter when it comes to speed and punching power, two elements that Byrd has already taken into consideration, “If he wants to stand and trade, I’ll be throwing punches with 225 pounds behind me versus his 190 pounds. We’re both fast and to make sure I’m prepared for his speed I’ve been training with our top A.T.T. welterweights and middleweights.”

It’s no surprise to hear Byrd rattle off the list of his training partners at A.T.T.: Ben Saunders, Luigi Fioravanti, fellow Selections tournament winner, Jose Figueroa, and even Tiago Silva to name a few. “That’s the great part about American Top Team,” says Byrd. “We train as a world-class unit and the team doesn’t let you fall short of your goals. So trust me when I say that Vasilevsky will have to knock me out or submit me. He will need to finish me because, unlike his last opponent, I won’t quit.”

With the bout expected to be announced shortly, clearly Byrd and the A.T.T. crew are already doing their homework and architecting the plan to ensure the M-1 Challenge light heavyweight belt is brought home to Florida.

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