Shannon Briggs, at age 47, is looking to fight for the first time in three years, and he wants it to come in the United Kingdom, though he’s not limiting his scope to a British return.
The Brooklyn-bred heavyweight, a former titleholder and former lineal champ, says he’s applying for a license with the BBBofC.
“I’ve been licensed to fight in the US, but I would love to fight here in England. Hopefully you’ll see me in the ring in June or July, but I’ll be back this year hopefully. I get a great response from the people. People seem to be fans, so I’d love to fight here, but if not, I’ll hopefully fight on the undercard of Tyson Fury. If not, I’ll still keep at it. I’ll never give up.”
Fury, of course, is set to fight in Las Vegas on June 15, facing Germany’s Tom Schwarz. That’s a Top Rank card, and as high as the potential is for Top Rank to struggle to find compelling opponents for Fury — Schwarz certainly isn’t one — I have a hard time imagining them turning to a 47-year-old Briggs to maybe shore up their heavyweight ranks. But you never know, I guess. For what it’s worth, Briggs says he recently talked to Fury, who said he would look to get him a fight on the Vegas show. That doesn’t mean Briggs is looking to fight Fury, or vice versa, but it certainly could seem that way.
Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KO) last fought in May 2016, making his UK debut on the undercard of the legendary David Haye-Arnold Gjergjaj fight. He was angling for a fight with Haye at the time, and Haye seemed at least somewhat interested, but it never happened.
Briggs became a serious player in the late 1990s, beating 48-year-old lineal champ George Foreman in 1997, in what was Foreman’s final fight. In his next fight in 1998, Briggs challenged Lennox Lewis for the WBC title, losing via fifth round TKO.
His career sort of puttered around for years after that, before he was granted another title shot in 2006 against WBO titleholder Siarhei Liakhovich. Just shy of his 35th birthday, Briggs stunned Liakhovich and won the belt with a TKO in the 12th round in a fight where he trailed on the cards, but had been competitive.
The reign was short, as Briggs was outpointed by Sultan Ibragimov in June 2007. Briggs kept barking, though, and got another shot in 2010, against WBC titleholder Vitali Klitschko. Klitschko gave Briggs a horrible beating in Germany, but Briggs did manage to go all 12 rounds.
And he hasn’t lost since. Granted, he didn’t fight again until 2014, and he hasn’t fought anyone good since Klitschko pummeled him. But he won nine fights from 2014-16, and kept his name in the media pretty frequently for a while, infamously taunting Wladimir Klitschko, which never resulted in a fight, and trying to get in with Haye, too.
Briggs has four things going for him: (1) he can talk his ass off, and is a generally, if a bit oddly, affable guy; (2) at last check, he can still punch; (3) he stays in tremendous condition; and (4) there is a story to be sold here.
That said, he’s whiffed the last two times that he’s tried to get a big fight, and unless he links up with a power promoter, which seems pretty unlikely, he’ll have to actually fight contenders to get to the titleholders or Fury, and he can’t beat contenders anymore. He hasn’t beaten one in over 12 years. There are the rare, great stories of this kind — Foreman in ‘94, Hopkins in the latter part of his career, etc. — but they are rare and great for a reason. 47-year-old men just don’t compete at the top levels of boxing.
But it’s hard not to kind of root for him, too, when he talks about fighting on at his age.
“I just want to have fun. This is what I’ve been doing all my life. To become a heavyweight champion would be phenomenal again, in three different decades. Aside from that, boxing is therapy for me, a guy like myself, I’ve been through a lot in my life, and boxing is my therapy to calm me down, kind of forget the rough things and to actually put my best foot forward. Exercise is great for all types of depression. I use exercise as my way out. That’s my help.”
If he gets his shot, best of luck to him. He’s not really any less likely to beat Tyson Fury than Tom Schwarz is, and if you’re looking at it purely from what you can sell, at least Briggs has a story.