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Briggs wants to make some noise

Story by David L. Hudson
Photo by Chris Perry

This power-punching heavyweight has won 50 professional boxing matches, including a literal last-second win over Sergei Lyakhovich to win the WBO world heavyweight title. He possesses devastating power as witnessed by his 44 stoppages, but this pugilist has shown severe stamina problems at times in part due to his asthma. He has squared off against former heavyweight champions George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, Ray Mercer and Sultan Ibragimov in a career that began in 1992 with 10 first round stoppages in his first 12 bouts. He reeled off 25 consecutive victories to begin his career before a surprising kayo loss to Darroll Wilson.

His name is Shannon Briggs and he insists he is back to make some real noise in the heavyweight division. Though he has dabbled in acting and served as a boxing announcer for ESPN, he wants to advance his ring return.

In 2010, Briggs has stopped two underwhelming opponents in the first round – the last being an overmatched Dominique Alexander in New York on May 21st. Now only a week later on May 28th, Briggs looks to continue his winning ways when he faces Rob Calloway. He knows that Calloway – who has won 70 professional bouts – is a step up from his last two opponents. “He’s been there,” Briggs says. “He has a lot of experience and is cagey but I plan on imposing my will.”

Briggs hopes to impose his will on more than Calloway through the remainder of 2010 and beyond. He feels energized after forming The Empire Sports and Entertainment Inc., a new promotional company with Greg Cohen and Barry Honig. “It will be the next big force in boxing, you’ll see,” he insists.

He plans on staying busy, fighting every month until he can land a title shot. “I’m the last American-born heavyweight champion,” Briggs says. “It was me who lost the belt to Ibragimov. I feel a responsibility to bring it back.”

In the past, Briggs’ asthmatic condition has led to stamina problems. But, Briggs insists he is in good shape, noting that he has lost more than 80 pounds. “I feel great,” he says. “Yes, some people have concerns with my stamina but my accomplishments are huge given my condition. I’m the only known heavyweight champion that had asthma. That is a huge accomplishment and I want to send a message to all those asthma that they can achieve and that it is not a death sentence.”

Briggs believes that he would have a fighting chance against the current heavyweight champions, including the dominant Klitschko brothers and David Haye. “Wladimir has proven to be a very skilled boxer but when he gets in trouble we know he folds up like a garden chair. Vitali is an awkward, skilled boxer but he is also a safety-first fighter. People don’t want to see that anymore – this jab, hold or jab, right hand and clinch.”

He respects the Klitschkos for their achievements but notes that they are not crowd-pleasers. “They both have power but they are not willing to put it on the line,” he says. “I am willing to put it on the line. “

As for Haye, Briggs says he is still unproven. “He has proved he can box for 12 rounds but I am not that impressed with him.”

Some may scoff at another older former heavyweight champion coming back to reclaim past glory and garner a big payday. But, the 38-year-old Briggs is nothing if not ambitious: “My goal is to become heavyweight champion, unify the titles, spread the word about asthma, defend the title for a few years and then retire in good health.”

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The “ICB Knockout Series” is promoted Jack Fulton of the International Championship Boxing group. Tickets are $25, $50, $75 or $150 and are available at the box office. A limited amount of V.I.P. packages ($575 and $2500) are still available by calling 800-245-1599. Doors open at 7p and first bout at 8pm.

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