Editorials

Does Shannon Briggs Deserve a Shot at Wladimir Klitchko?

Wladimir Klitschko v Alex Leapai - Press Conference
Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

Let’s go back in history for a second. The year was 2006; coming off a dramatic 12-round knockout of Sergei Liakhovich, Shannon Briggs had just won the WBO Heavyweight title and was viewed as the savior. He would be the American to restore the heavyweight division and bring the titles back to the States.

Things didn’t pan out that way. His reign as champion was a short one, as he lost his title defense to Sultan Ibragimov not even a year later in early 2007. Shannon Briggs’ biggest problem has always been Shannon Briggs.

He’s always been good enough to get the big fight, but just not good enough to win it. This was the case in 2010 when, after beating a couple of tomato can fighters, Briggs was awarded a title shot against Vitali Klitchko. At the time Klitchko held the heavyweight title for slightly six years and at this point was a human wrecking ball, destroying any boxer in his path.

The 38-year-old Briggs was a 6’4″ mammoth of a man and had the physical stature to present problems for Klitchko. In what was a signature bout for Klitchko, he pummeled Briggs almost into submission, winning a 12-round decision. Briggs suffered facial fractures and was rumored to have collapsed in his dressing room.

Fast forward five years. Vitali had been unbeaten and was seriously considering running for president of Ukraine and was drifting into retirement. His younger brother Wladimir was now champion and had not lost a fight since running out of gas versus Lamon Brewster in 2004–a loss he avenged with a sixth-round stoppage three years later.

Wladimir has remained active and fought any and all comers; however most of his fights have been on foreign territory. He has fought in the United States just twice since 2007. Needless to say he isn’t a fan favorite on American soil. Wladimir’s most recent fight, which was at Madison Square Garden, saw an undersized, but crafty Bryant Jennings take Klitchko to 12 rounds, losing on all score cards.

Jennings was game, but just didn’t have enough fire power to seriously pose a threat. While the fight was entertaining, it left something to be desired. The Heavyweight division is missing something. Is it a knockout artist? Is it a trash talking, slick punching boxer like Floyd Mayweather?

Enter the new, rebranded, Shannon Briggs who is now 43 years old and bald with a grayish goat tee. If you have been anywhere near boxing social media you have seen Briggs. If you haven’t seen him, he’s in the best shape of his life. And he’s more than willing to tell you or let you see. Every interview or post he shares, he’s shirtless and flexing his washboard abs.

He has been on the comeback trail for five years now. He hasnt fought anyone notable, but currently holds the NABA title.

Does he deserve a shot at the top man in the division? Of course not, but there is opportunity here for boxing and its fans. While Briggs’ skills may not present a challenge to Klitchko, his personality certainly does.

For instance, Briggs has been on a campaign to stalk, humiliate and taunt Klitschko into a fight. Briggs has even gone as far as to show up while Klitschko was having lunch to trash talk him. In that ridiculous instance, Briggs proceeded to take food off of Klitchko’s plate, only to have Klitchko knock him down and cause a huge ruckus.

Then there is the gym altercation. While Klitschko was in the ring shadow boxing, Briggs entered the gym and pulled another crazy stunt. He trash talked Klitschko for a few minutes ringside before actually entering the ring where he began dancing around. The two men for separated after Klitschko threatened to knock Briggs out.

You have to admit, Klitschko is one cool customer. He never seems annoyed or bothered by Briggs’ constant harassing and taunting. He merely laughs it off.

To take a page from Hollywood, Briggs is Clubber Lang showing up to harass Rocky during his statue unveiling. He’s loud, brash and self-promoting, while Klitschko is the exact opposite. He trains and goes about his business, but most American fans just never warmed up to either of the Klitchko’s.

One reason is because they are from the Ukraine and two because they seem to enjoy the role of the villain. This may seem blasphemous, but Wladimir has the opportunity to be the victim in the eye of the public. He gets to play the role of the skinny kid at the beach getting sand kicked in his face by the bigger, bulkier bully.

If Klitschko is truly seeking to establish a fan base in the United States he has the opportunity to use Briggs as the villain. Briggs is a walking reality show that happens to be a professional boxer. Put him in front of the cameras and let people line up to see him get destroyed.

Does he deserve a shot? No. Should he get a shot? Why not? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, Clubber Lang did beat Rocky the first time…

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