A November To Remember For The Heavyweights?

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 23, 2006

Calvin Brock

Calvin Brock

NEW YORK — Wladimir Klitschko will defend the IBF heavyweight championship on November 11, at Madison Square Garden. His opponent will not be newly crowned WBC heavyweight champion Oleg Maskaev or hard-hitting Shannon Briggs, as once discussed.

Klitschko (46-3, 41 KOs) will make the first defense of the IBF title against undefeated, Calvin Brock (29-0, 22 KOs).

“I want to say that Calvin Brock is really, really strong fighter,” Klitschko said. “He’s experienced fighter, with good basics, which he got from amateurs. He’s young and willing to win this fight”.

“He wants to be the champion of the world. As a champion it’s really a lot of work, because it’s more difficult to defend the title than to get a title shot.”

Question: Is Calvin Brock really worthy of receiving a world title fight? Answer: certainly, because, the 31-year-old, native of Charlotte, North Carolina, is undefeated during his 5 ½- year professional career.

As an amateur, Brock was a member of the 2000 US Olympic boxing team and amassed a good 147-38 amateur record.

Brock improves after every fight. He can box and does pack a punch. Brock is not a boxer who will punch and hold for twelve rounds in a dull fight.

Brock has an exciting style and he is a fresh, young face in a heavyweight class that has been ruled by Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis, and Mike Tyson.

Brock is also an educated-fighter with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina. Brock is good at taking calculated risks both in business and in the boxing ring.

The result: an unbeaten record with his first world title shot at the famed Madison Square Garden.

The Garden is the same building when Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier for the world heavyweight championship. Lennox Lewis fought the first of two heavyweight title fights against Holyfield that resulted in one of the most controversial decisions in boxing history.

“I’m proud to make my title defense here in New York,” Klitschko said of fighting at the historic Garden. “Many of the biggest boxing starts fought here and I’m really pleased and honored to be part of it.”

Brock deserves a title shot, but does he have enough size, power, and technique to defeat Klitschko?

“There will be three deciders in this fight – Two boxers and a referee,” Brock said. “I have undefeated record. It doesn’t matter what other people say. What I do in the ring is what matters to me. I will continue on to be undefeated and become a world champion.”

Wladimir, 30, Hamburg, Germany, is a muscular 6’ 7,” 245 pound fighter. He has knockout power in both hands and with trainer Emmanuel Steward, he promises to improve his boxing style. Steward has worked with Klitschko in his last three fights:

The biggest knock against Klitschko has been his chin. Klitschko has been stopped by Ross Purity, Corrie Sanders, and Lamon Brewster.

In Nov. 2005, under Steward, Klitschko was knocked down three times by Sam Peter en route to winning a 12-round decision to become the IBF No. 1 contender.

Klitschko’s most impressive performance was the night he won the IBF title by defeating a man he had already defeated, Chris Byrd.

In April 22, 2006, Klitschko appeared to be the strongest he’s ever been, as he jabbed and power-boxed his way through Byrd’s defense. Klitschko won, via seventh-round KO.

Klitschko was rumored to have fought Briggs in November, but plans apparently changed when Maskaev knocked out Hasim Rahman in the twelfth round on August 12th to win the WBC title.

Although Briggs was considered a dangerous opponent having knocked out eleven consecutive opponents, Maskaev would have been a bigger draw since it would have been a WBC/IBF heavyweight title unification bout.

Maskaev wouldn’t have had enough time to heal, train, and be 100% in healthy following a grueling 12-round fight with Rahman less than three months before meeting Klitschko.

Minus Briggs and without Maskaev, Brock was perhaps the most logical option.

What about Briggs?

Briggs Challenges for WBO heavyweight title

“Shelly Finkel (Klitschko’s advisor) is a scumbag,” Briggs spoke of his disappointment of not having to fight Klitschko. “He used my name for what he is doing at the Garden. He knew I was a New York fighter. He had me waiting at home for a contact, said it was done, but it never came. He was bullshitting me.”

“Guys like Shelly Finkel are the ones putting boxing on the back burner behind the NFL, NBA, and other sports,” Briggs added.

Briggs, a 34-year-old from Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY, has not been left on the shelf to collect dust. Instead, Briggs (47-4-1, 31 KOs) will be well-polished and ready to fight when he challenges WBO heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich (23-1, 14 KOs) on November 4, at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

It would have been a dream for Briggs to fight in his hometown at the Garden for the heavyweight title against Klitschko. Instead, Briggs will go to Liakhovich’s adopted home state.

The champion originally from Vitebsk, Belarus, lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and could have a slight advantage. Briggs, however, is ready for the challenge.

“Liakhovich is the best heavyweight champion out there,” Briggs said at a recent press conference. “I know what I am up against”.

“There couldn’t have been a better time for me to fight for a heavyweight championship. It’s my time. I’m a late bloomer. I’m older; I’m stronger, and wiser and more focused.”

Liakhovich defeated the man Klitschko couldn’t beat, Lamon Brewster in an exciting heavyweight fight in March. Liakhovich rose from the amt following a knockdown in the seventh round to beat Brewster to the punch in a surprising 12-round slugfest.

“He looks great in a black suit. They’re going to have to bury him in it in Phoenix when I am done with him,” Briggs told the champion at the press conference.

Liakhovich promises to be a better fighter when he defends his title against Briggs.

“I’ve become a better fighter since beating Brewster,” the champion said. “I don’t really like talking about myself. I let the media do that”.

“He’s (Briggs) a good fighter, a strong fighter. He’s got good hand speed and a good right. But if he tries to knock me out, he will be in trouble.”