BASN Boxing Notebook: Taken to the Distance

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: October 18, 2010

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NEW YORK (BASN) — WBC heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko (41-2, 38 KOs) successfully retained his title defeating former WBO champion Shannon Briggs (51-6-1, 45 KOs), via 12-round unanimous decision at the O2 World Arena in Hamburg, Germany on Saturday.

All three judges scored the bout 120-107, 120-107, and 120-105 for Klitschko. It was the fifth defense of the WBC title he reclaimed since ending a 3 ½-year retirement in October 2008 by beating Samuel Peter (TKO 8).

Having had successive title defenses against Juan Carlos Gomez (TKO 9), Chris Arreola (TKO 10), Kevin Johnson (W 12), and Albert Sosnowski (TKO 10), many felt that Klitschko’s bout with Briggs would have been easy considering the 38 year-old Brownsville has had has a history of tiring in fights due to having asthma.

That simply wasn’t the case, as Briggs, recognized too for his knockout power in either hand, was in great shape. Briggs withstood some hard right hands and stiff left jabs from the champion, but managed to last the full twelve round distance to the surprise of many.

“I fought George Foreman. I fought Lennox Lewis. I’ve fought over 57 guys. This is by far the best fighter I’ve ever fought,” Briggs said afterward. “Better than Foreman, Better than Lewis.”

Perhaps Briggs’ best chance was trying to pressure Klitschko into making a mistake and perhaps forcing a knockout in the early rounds.

Briggs has 30 career first-round KOs. However, fighting a Vitali Klitschko means you’re fighting a guy who has never been knocked own throughout his career.

Klitschko, recognized for having an iron chin, withstood the power of a Lennox Lewis and was well ahead on the scorecards before losing on TKO because of a cut above his left eye.

Klitschko’s TKO loss to Chris Byrd (don’t be fooled) occurred because the taller 6-foot-7, 250-pounder quit on his stool after suffering a shoulder injury. Klitschko was well ahead on the judges scorecards.

Anything is possible in boxing. Although Briggs, who nearly KO’d Lewis in the opening seconds of their WBC title fight in March 1996 in Atlantic City, NJ, has the power to knock anyone out, an early-round stoppage of Vitali Klitschko was a tall order.

Fighting Vitali Klitschko has become somewhat of a mystery in recent years because, he has proven very difficult to his. Klitschko uses his height and reach very well. He can extend his arms high and move his shoulders to avoid/block punches.

Klitschko’s reach is so long that he uses his jab frequently and often for a heavyweight. Klitschko can move around the ring flatfooted and apply a lot of power behind his punches. He has also become increasingly difficult to his with the right hand.

Also, because of his reach, Klitschko can see the overhand right coming. He can easily block an oncoming uppercut. Don’t even waste your time throwing a straight-right.

Briggs did find success, however, throwing his right hand by planting it hard against Klitschko’s ribcage. The problem is that same right hand to the body that knocked out lesser-skilled opponents in years past, didn’t faze Vitali. Briggs wasn’t a sitting duck either.

Briggs feinted with his upper body and he did move his head.

Briggs tried to roll with Klitschko’s shots and was surprisingly more athletic than expected. Briggs jabbed, but Klitschko had better success landing his left jab and overhand right/straight-right more frequently.

Antonio Tarver wins heavyweight debut

Former world light-heavyweight champion Antonio “The Magic Man” Tarver (28-6, 19 KOs) won a 10-round unanimous decision over Nagy Aguilera (16-5, 11 KOs) on a special edition of ShoBox: The New Generation last Friday at the Buffalo Bull Run Casino in Buffalo Oklahoma.

All three judges scored the bout 98-92.

“I feel I looked great,” said Tarver, who turns 42 in November. “There was no ring rust. I didn’t get hit much. I didn’t get hurt.

I’ll get the shoulder diagnosed, but it didn’t affect me.”

“I wasn’t going to let it affect me. I did what I had to do and stuck to my game plan. I’m back and I’m here to stay. I’m a heavyweight now. The magic still lives.”

Some people believe that Tarver’s move to the heavyweight division is crazy. However, throughout boxing history, many light-heavyweights have tested the heavyweight waters: Archie Moore, Billy Conn, Bob Foster, Michael Spinks, and in recent years Roy Jones, Jr. James Toney, and Michael Moorer.

Tarver, recognized as one of the best light-heavyweights in recent years having fought Jones, Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, Chad Dawson, Clinton Woods, and Montell Griffin, fought at 217 pounds.

While his left hand did find its mark throughout during his bout against Aguilera, Tarver appeared a little uncomfortable when his heavyweight opponent moved in aggressively.

Tarver even appeared to have injured his left shoulder in the fourth round.

There were times when Tarver, who fought at 175 throughout his career, looked a little fatigued. Tarver wasn’t at his best, but his southpaw right-jab and left-hand were busier than Aguilera’s.

“There is still work to do,” Tarver said. “Aguilera was a good trial horse for me. He surprised me because he stayed on his bicycle so much. But I’ll be back in the gym. I’ve got to power up. I thought I caught him with some good shots. No one (in the heavyweight division) is going to outbox me.”

In the co-feature, 2008 U.S. Olympic game alternate unbeaten welterweight prospect Shawn Porter (17-0, 13 KOs) TKO’d a bloody Hector Munoz (18-4-1, 11KOs) at 2:05 seconds of the ninth round.

“The fight went exactly as I expected,” said the 22 year-old Porter. “He came forward all the time and never stopped trying. I was surprised at how long they let the fight go on, but I knew I had to stay focused.”

Porter is one of the hottest young prospects in boxing. Keep your eyes on him.