Is Liakhovich Next?: Briggs Seeks 12th Straight KO

By Francis Walker
Updated: October 20, 2006

NEW YORK — In two weeks, Sergei Liakhovich (23-1, 14 KOs) defends his WBO heavyweight championship against Shannon Briggs (47-4-1, 41 KOs) in what should be an explosive heavyweight title fight.

Also, undefeated WBA lightweight champion Juan Diaz (30-0, 15 KOs) defends his title against Fernando Angulo (18-3, 12 KOs).

Both bouts will be televised on Showtime and promoted by Don King Productions from Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ on Nov. 4.

Briggs enters his heavyweight title challenge with a surprise and perhaps a distinct advantage. In addition to working with Jeff Mayweather, both uncle and trainer of WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Briggs has also hired trainer Chuck McGregor to work with him.

“Chuck is a guy who I have known a long time and for many years,” Briggs said. “Actually, a few years back, I tried to get Chuck to train me but at the time he was training quite a few other guys. So he did not have the time and I understood that, so it did not work out”.

“Then it just happened to be that we were fighting here in Phoenix and we thought that Chuck would be great to add to the team.”

Briggs went on to say that McGregor use to train Liakhovich and “knows his personality.” Of course Liakhovivh disagrees.

“Chuck is supposed to be the expert trainer that knows me,” Liakhovich said. “Chuck knows nothing about me. In one year, I have changed quite a bit and I am now with a great trainer, Kenny Weldon. I understand Shannon Briggs needs to feel that way because he is fighting the best champion out there and it is kind of a scary walk out there”.

“He talks the talk. He has a big mouth. I have major plans, you know, basically (knocking him into) the second row.

Briggs is currently on an 11-fight knockout streak that dates back to March 2003. Briggs KO-streak includes a seventh-round stoppage of former WBO heavyweight champion, Ray Mercer and two undefeated heavyweights. Each of the eleven opponents that Briggs has KO’d all had a winning record.

Briggs’ last loss was a 10-round decision to Jameel McCline in April 2002. The fight against Liakhovich will be Briggs’ first heavyweight title shot in more than 8 years.

In March 1998, Briggs nearly knocked out WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis in the opening seconds of the first round. However, Lewis fought his way back to stop Briggs in the fifth round of a very exciting fight.

Liakhovich promises Briggs that if he comes inside and goes for the knockout, Briggs could get KO’d himself.

“I know he is going to come swinging,” Liakhovich said. “I know he is going to try and throw a lot of hard punches, but he needs to think about every time he swings, he is going to get hit.”

Liakhovich won the WBO title in his last fight in March. Liakhovich survived a seventh-round knockdown to win an unanimous 12-round decision against Lamon Brewster. It was an exciting heavyweight fight, especially for Liakhovich, who has only fought once in the last 22 months.

Liakhovich, along with Wladimir Klitschko (IBF), Oleg Maskaev (WBC), and Nicolay Valuev (WBA) is one of four fighters from the former Soviet Union win a piece of the world heavyweight championship. At no point in history has four European boxers simultaneously held a world heavyweight championship.

“People do not know who these champions are,” Briggs said. “They do not know who Liakhovich is, Valuev, Klitschko. They do not care. These guys are not personable, these guys are not marketable. They are ugly”.

“They get on my nerves. I am sick and tired of them. Everybody wants to see a champion they can identify with and they can talk to. I am here to just clean up this mess.”

“The world can identify with one champ, (especially) an English-speaking heavyweight champ,” Briggs concluded. “No offense to these guys in that way. I am not trying to be rude in that way. I just think these guys are not pushed by their managers”.

“They knock me and say, listen, Shannon Briggs is just known for being famous. But what is wrong with that? I am out there doing what I have to do to make a living and propel my name and the sport at the same time.”