Briggs Loses Heavyweight Championship

By Francis Walker
Updated: June 4, 2007

NEW YORK — Shannon Briggs (48-5-1, 42 KOs) lost the WBO heavyweight championship in his first title defense on a unanimous decision unbeaten Russian Sultan Ibragimov (21-0-1, 17 KOs) this past Saturday, at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

All three judges scored the bout in Ibragimov’s favor: 118-110, 117-111, and 115-113. For Briggs, a 35-year-old from Brooklyn, this could have very well been his last professional bout.

Briggs has been a fighter both inside and outside the ring. Growing up on the mean streets of Brownsville, Briggs was no ordinary kid. He was often homeless and has battled asthma. Briggs never knew his father. His mother was a heroine addict and his stepfather died in prison.

Through it all, Briggs emerged from being a sickly homeless person to become the first person with asthma to win a world heavyweight championship.

“I think that my boxing career has been a stepping stone,” Briggs said at the post-fight press conference. “When I was a kid and I remember sleeping on the A-Train one night. I was like, ‘I want to be a very successful person.”

“I didn’t know how it was going to happen. I think that boxing is going to be a stepping stone for me and my future.” In addition to having achieved success as a fighter, Briggs can also be seen in hit movies Transporter II and Bad Boys II.

“I felt that I’ve been successful in boxing,” Briggs continued. “This is only the first part of my life. I’m only 35. Hopefully by the time I’m 70, I would have accomplished other things outside of boxing.”

“I feel in my heart that I am the greatest and that I fought with a disease. I didn’t reach the status of a Mike Tyson or a Lennox Lewis, but I still feel happy with everything.”

During a pro career that began on July 24, 1992 with a first round knockout of John Basil in Mike Tyson‘s former training roots of the Catskills, NY, Briggs faced plenty of ups and downs. While Briggs achieved success as a “vicious puncher,” he was also slammed by countless critics about his work ethic and commitment to boxing.

“I love boxing,” Briggs said emphatically. “Boxing is a passion. People say I want to be an actor, I want to do whatever I have to do to feed my family. I love to train. I hate when I get into a fight and in the second round people say I’m tired. How can I be tired in two rounds. I’m short-winded because of asthma.”

One year Briggs was touted as a talented young heavyweight prospect. But after a loss to Darrol Wilson in March 1996, Briggs was labeled as an underachiever.

After Briggs won a 12-round decision against George Foreman in November 1997, an investigation was launched against Briggs’ former manager Marc Roberts. After losses to WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis, Sedrick Fields, and Jameel McCline, many believed that Shannon Briggs’ time had come to an end.

But in March 2003, Briggs began a streak of having knocked out twelve consecutive opponents (13 if you count his appearance in K-1 Fighting) that included a knockout of Sergui Liakhovich at 2:59 seconds of the final round to win the WBO heavyweight crown in November 2006.

“To get to this point with Don to fight for the heavyweight title,” Briggs added, “I was fighting in backyard barns in Puerto Rico, Carolina , Arizona , Idaho , Arkansas , upstate New York in off-TV bouts. I wasn’t getting TV exposure. My manager Scott Hirsch spared no expense to pay for my opponents. No body would fight me.”

Once Briggs won the WBO title, he wanted to fight IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko to unify two of the world heavyweight championships instead of Ibragimov, whom Briggs didn’t consider to be in his league.

“I’m 35 years old,” Briggs said. “I didn’t want to fight [Ibragimov]. I got two kids. I want to try to leave this business with a little bit of money. I wanted to unify. I wanted to fight Klitschko.”

Briggs had to fight Ibragimov, 32 of Russia , who was ranked No. 1 by the World Boxing Organization. The two were suppose to have fought on March 10, but the fight was pushed back when Briggs was diagnosed with having pneumonia. Briggs couldn’t pull out of the fight once it was rescheduled.

“I had pneumonia,” Briggs said. “I was on Zithromax for three days, antibiotics for fifteen days. Don King took me to the best pulmonary doctors in the country. The doctor told me not to fight. I told him I would pull out if he’d pay me $1.8 million.”

Briggs has fought opponents like Ibragimov before. Opponents that were shorter and stocky, Briggs, who at 6-feet-4, and 273 pounds had a 50-pound weight advantage over the 6-foot-2, 222-pound Ibragimov, made a career out of knocking shorter guys out.

“[Ibragimov] felt my power early,” Briggs continued. “I knew I could knock him out. He’s not a big guy. I thought I could knock him out if I catch him early.”

But after the first round, Briggs didn’t have the same aggressiveness he had led him to the world championship. The hand speed that Briggs displayed throughout his career simply wasn’t present.

Briggs was a stationary, one-punch fighter that couldn’t reach Ibragimov.

Something clearly was wrong. Apparently Briggs’ asthma kicked-in after the second round. Briggs was noticeably breathing heavily as he returned to his corner between rounds.

Having fought an exhaustive battle with phenomena which canceled his initial meeting with Ibragimov, undergoing treatments that included inhaling oxygen from a Hyperbaric Chamber, to having been called a coward, and the threat of being sued, all of these events may have finally caught up with Briggs.

Briggs has made a career of going back to the drawing board after a loss, but this time it’s different. Briggs clearly isn’t at his healthiest. He has a $1.1 million-dollar house in Florida , he has a wife and two children. Perhaps Briggs, who put up a great fight to become a real life rags-to-riches success story to heavyweight champion, should retire.

Ibragimov Worked Hard

“I worked so hard for March 10 and again for this fight for so long,” Ibragimov said while holding the WBO heavyweight title. “I came into fight I was so careful. I was training for six months for title fights. In the three-four rounds I saw he was too slow. I worked on boxing.”

Ibragimov, who has power in both hands, showed a lot of movement. Ibragimov jabbed with his right hand to Briggs’s chest and threw his left hand up top. Ibragimov event landed a few shots that landed square on Briggs’ chin.

“I was told by a lot of people who worked with him and sparred with him that he was a puncher and that’s it,” Briggs said. “He hit me square on the chin. I fought George Foreman, Lennox Lewis, and Frans Botha – nothing like them. I fought better fighters and tougher fighters.”

“I’m not impressed,” Briggs added.

According to Ibragimnov, Briggs taunted him: “He was saying ‘come on, come on.’ I wanted to go to my left hook and I wanted to keep my left hand up. Left good hook keep my right hand up, that’s why I wasn’t jabbing that much.”

Ibragimov, along with his trainer Jeff Mayweather, who is related to boxing famed Mayweather family along with Floyd, Sr., Floyd Jr., and Roger stuck to their sound game plan.

“Both guys are big punchers,” Jeff Mayweather said. I thought maybe this fight would end in a KO. Briggs is a big guy that don’t like to throw punches. Coming in at 273, we wanted to make him miss punches that he did throw.”

“After the third round, he bluffed like he was going to do something,” Mayweather added. “He did nothing. I knew he wasn’t going to pull off the miracle. Liakhovich was afraid of him, Ibragimov is no Liakhovich.”

Calvin Brock & Shamone Alvarez Shines on Undercard

Heavyweight contender Calvin Brock (31-1, 23 KOs) survived a third round knockdown to win an unanimous 8-round decision against Alex Gonzalez (18-5, 8 KOs ).

Welterweight Shamone Alvarez (18-0, 11 KOs) remained undefeated following a 12-round unanimous decision over Jose Luis Cruz (32-3-2, 26 KOs ). The scores were 119-108, 117-109, and 116-111.

Super middleweight Robert Stieglitz (29-1, 18 KOs) on an 8-round decision against Marlon Hyanes (23-7, 12 KOs ).

Unbeaten middleweight Giovanni Lorenzo (24-0, 16 KOs) knocked out Bruce Rumbloz (21-14-2, 15 KOs ) in the third round.

Flyweight Raul Martinez (19-0, 12 KOs) won a 6-round decision over Alejandro Moreno (21-22-3, 10 KOs ).

Junior welterweight Habib Allakhverdiev (3-0, 2 KOs ) defeated Roberto Acevedo (1-1-1, 1 KO), via disqualification in the fourth round for excessive holding.

Tiger Allen (3-0, 2 KOs ) stopped Fitzgerald Joh nson (0-2) in the third round.