By Mark Elezaj
Fight fan or not, when you hear the words “LETS GO CHAMP” you turn around and hope to get a glimpse of the former 2 time World Heavyweight Champion Shannon Briggs. You look around to make sure you’re able to get a glimpse of this hulking image confronting a fighter and watching to see how that other guy responds. It’s an amazing sight and it’s one hell of a show! I witnessed him confronting Deontay Wilder and let me tell you, he is boxing’s greatest promoter because not only was I like “Wow this guy is still passionate about a sport that once forgot him” but I was also hopeful that these two “monsters” would face off in the ring in the near future.
But what is his story? Who is Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs? Why is he so angry? What does he have left to prove? Lets talk about it.
Briggs is a twenty year veteran of the sport. He is a former two time world heavyweight champion, the former lineal champion (1997 to 1998), and the former WBO champion (2006 to 2007). His record stands at 60-6-1-1 with 53 victories coming by way of Knock Out.
In his early Amateur days, Briggs was the New York City Golden Gloves champion, the New York State Champion, the National P.A.L. Champion and finished second place at the Pan American Games in 1991. The following year he became the United States Amateur Champion.
Briggs turned professional in 1992 and was trained by Tedy Atlas. He was a monster in the ring, winning his first 25 fights impressively, 20 by knock out while only 5 went the distance. He was boxing’s newest Heavyweight threat. With momentum on his side, he looked ready to take over the division in impressive fashion.
HBO’s “Night Of The Young Heavyweights”.
Briggs (25-0) went on to face Darroll Wilson in 1996 on HBO’s Night Of The Young Heavyweights and was a huge favorite to win. He came on strong in the first, throwing and landing hard punches early. Wilson was able to withstand the onslaught and turned the tide in the second round, moving and boxing with Briggs and eventually knocking him out in the third round. People started to question Briggs, his style and his chin. Was he really the next big thing or was he just a product of good promoting?
He went on, or should I say, walked through his next 4 opponents with ease winning those bouts by Knock out and causing 1 fighter to retire in his corner. The fans once again started to follow Briggs. His power was uncanny. He was a force to be reckoned with and his fights became highlight reels. He was strong and fast making his opponents look outclassed in every way.
Enter George Foreman
On November 22, 1997 Briggs went on to face “Big” George Foreman for the Lineal Heavyweight Championship. Briggs sported a 29–1 record and Foreman was 76-4.
Foreman spent the majority of the fight as the aggressor, landing hard punches that had Briggs backing off, becoming a much more defensive fighter than his previous bouts. During the later rounds Foreman’s power punches began to take a toll on Briggs, slowing him down and keeping him at bay. In the final round Foreman went for the knockout victory, breaking Briggs’ nose in the process, but was unable to do so. Lets go to the judge’s scorecards.
114–114, 116–112 and 117–113 in favor of Briggs, giving him the majority decision and the Lineal heavyweight championship. The crowd was not happy and the decision was a controversial one but Briggs was the winner and walked away victorious.
Enter Lennox Lewis
March 22, 1998 Briggs went on to face the WBC Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. From the opening bell, Lewis was able to control the first round by using his jab to keep Briggs away, occasionally landing some power punches as well. But, with 30 seconds left in the round, Briggs landed a short left hand that staggered Lewis. Briggs began a rally, landing several power punches while looking for the early knockout victory. Briggs landed a right hook and sent Lewis stumbling into the corner with 15 seconds left. Briggs continued his attack in the corner, but Lewis was able to get a hold and clinched Briggs until the end of the round.
Lewis came back in the second round using his jab to keep Briggs at bay. Briggs then landed a powerful hook, again staggering Lewis, but this tune Lewis was able to withstand Briggs’ shots and ended the round by landing two big combinations.
Lewis began to fight aggressively, landing combinations that would send Briggs into the ropes. He would continue his assault on Briggs, knocking him down to the canvas. Briggs was able to beat the referee’s count, but Lewis would jump on him, landing several punches before Briggs was finally able to punch and move away from Lewis. Briggs was able to land some punches and hit Lewis with a strong left hand but Lewis avoided Briggs’ follow up punches and countered with a left hook and then landing a three punch combination that sent Briggs down to mat again. Briggs was able to survive the remainder of the round.
The fifth round saw Lewis continuing to throw and land power punches knocking Briggs down for the third time in the fight. Briggs was able to get up but Lewis continued to attack Briggs who then fell to the mat following a missed left hook. The referee stopped the fight awarding Lewis the victory by technical knockout.
Briggs did not let the loss discourage him and he started his comeback. From 1998-2006 Briggs steamrolled through his competition with notable wins against the likes of Ray Mercer, Brian Scott, Luciano Zolyone, Dicky Ryan and Chris Koval.
This set him up to face Sergei Liakhovich for the WBO heavyweight title on November 4, 2006, knocking him out in the last round of the fight.
In his first title defense he faced Sultan Ibragimov in Atlantic City on June 2, 2007, with Briggs losing in a unanimous decision (111-117, 109-119, 113-115). Briggs entered having won his last 12 fights prior to this and announced his retirement from boxing following the fight.
Briggs returned to action in 2009 but trouble followed. After being suspended 90 days for a banned substance (to be fair he was using a medication to deal with asthma) he fought three times before meeting Vitali Klitschko on October 16, 2010. Briggs lost a unanimous decision (120-105 120-107 twice) and was taken to to the hospital after the fight Briggs to be treated for a left orbital fracture, a broken nose, and a torn left biceps.
LETS GO CHAMP!
After being away from the sport for three years, Briggs came back and fought six fights in 2014 and two more in 2015 winning all eight, seven by way of knockout. He also became the NABA Heavyweight champion.
Briggs began chasing a fight with then unified and lineal world champion Wladimir Klitschko. Briggs began releasing videos of himself confronting Klitschko, interrupting press conferences, and gym sessions and promoting himself the only way he knows how! It was amazing. The fight never happened so Briggs turned his attention to David Haye. In March 2016, Briggs confronted David Haye at his press conference, and Haye offered him the chance to fight on his undercard, promising that he would fight him next if he was victorious that night.
Despite winning on the undercard, a fight between Briggs and Haye didn’t happen. Brigg’s continued to call out Haye, confronting him whenever possible and even chased Haye down in Brooklyn at a fight asking for Haye to keep his word.
Briggs continued to self promote and became “The Peoples Champ.” He was loved and adored by the fight fans who wanted to see “The Champ” succeed one more time. Unfortunately on July 20, 2017, Briggs was suspended for six months by the WBA and lost his #3 ranking. It’s unfortunate but it it is what it is.
What I will say is this, Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs was one of the best to ever do it. Love him or hate him you have to respect him. He was a monster early on in his career. He made his opponents look lost in that ring. When he did lose, he picked himself up and stepped right back into the gym preparing for his next fight. He never made excuses. He never complained. He continued to fight on. His motivational speeches and the love he has for his fans is second to none. He is the “People’s Champ” and there will never be another one like him. Thank you Mr. Briggs! “LETS GO CHAMP!”
~The Fighting Voice~