Briggs’ Scores Come From Behind KO, Wins WBO Heavyweight Title

By Francis Walker
Updated: November 7, 2006

NEW YORK — In a surprise finish, Shannon Briggs (48-4-1, 42 KOs) knocked out Sergei Liakhovich (23-2, 14 KOs) through the ropes onto Chase Field in Phoenix , AZ at 2:59 of the twelfth round to win the WBO heavyweight championship.

Had Liakhovich remained on his feet, he would have retained his championship. It was Liakhovich’s first title defense.

Briggs’ heavyweight title challenge against Liakhovich proved to be uneventful, but in a weird twist of fate, turned out to be significant. Briggs, trailing behind on all three judges scorecards (106-103 twice and 105-104) heading into the final round, miraculously extended his consecutive knockout victory streak to 12.

In the final 30 seconds of the fight, Briggs scored two knockdowns. The second knockdown blasted Liakhovich onto the floor in between the announcers table and the ringside floor.

Briggs, the 34 year-old from Brooklyn , NY , has finally won a heavyweight championship. Perhaps it’s not the way many had envisioned, but his dream nonetheless became a reality.

Briggs’ only other world title shot occurred more than eight years ago when he challenged Lennox Lewis for the WBC heavyweight title in March 1998.

Briggs nearly knocked Lewis through the ropes in the opening seconds of the fight. Lewis, the more seasoned fighter established his left jabs and was clearly the more polished boxer, as he stopped Briggs in the fifth round of an exciting fight.

Briggs has always had the look of being a very dangerous heavyweight contender, but struggled to win key fights to put in into a position to challenge for a world heavyweight title.

Decision losses to an undeserving Sedrick Fields (2000) and Jameel McCline (2002) hurt Briggs’ emergence as a premier heavyweight contender. However, Briggs has always been around.

This current 12-fight knockout streak has forced the media and other boxing personalities to recognize Briggs’ reemergence into the heavyweight title picture.

Remember, Vitali Klitschko postponed three WBC heavyweight title fights against Hasim Rahman in 2005. John Ruiz lost the WBA heavyweight title twice last year, and Chris Byrd, the former IBF champion who fought twice a year, was unrecognizable.

At least Briggs remained active fighting at least three times per year (except 2004) since 2003. It’s surprising how Briggs ended his fight against Liakhovich, 30, Vitebsk , Belarus , but it is no surprise that Briggs was able to knock him out.

Briggs is currently the only American to hold a piece of the world heavyweight championship. The other champions Wladimir Klitschko (IBF), Oleg Maskaev (WBC), and Nikolai Valuev (WBA) are all from the former Soviet Union . It will be very interesting if Briggs attempts to unify the world heavyweight championship.

Liakhovich Not That Good

Liakhovich’s first loss occurred in June 2002. Liakhovich (16-0) was a ninth-round knockout victim fo journeyman fighter, Maurice Harris. Harris entered the fight with 12 losses, 8 by knockout including a sixth-round demolition by Derrick Jefferson.

Liakhovich has built his record feasting on fighters with losing records of 1-17, 20-36, 7-20, 14-12, 10-15, and 15-21. Although he beat Dominick Guinn in 2004, Liakhovich was inactive for nearly 16 months before winning the WBO title from an out-of-shape Lamon Brewster in April 2006.

Brewster was in terrible shape, but managed to knock Liakhovich down in the seventh round of an exciting heavyweight title fight.

Liakhovich was not that much better than the opponents Briggs knocked out throughout his current knockout run.