Ibragimov-Briggs: The script

shannon briggs28.05.07 - By Ted Sares: This championship fight is scheduled for June 2 in Atlantic City. Shannon Briggs has been atypically quiet in the lead up to this fight which reflects serious focus and determination. Surprisingly, it is Sultan ahmed “Sultan” Ibragimov who seems to be doing most of the mouth work. “I’m tired of talking about the fight,” said Ibragimov recently. “I just want to get in the ring and take my title. I won’t be denied my dreams.” But if Sultan performs as he did against Ray Austin, he will be having nightmares. Here is how I see it playing out.

As the bell rings for round one, "The Cannon goes after Ibragimov, 20-1-1, by launching an all-out attack, a mugging if you will. The Russian, surprised by Briggs' ferocity, backs off and tries to tie him up, but this time and unlike the Lennox Lewis fight, the big dread-locked fighter from Brooklyn does not let his opponent off the hook and clubs him to the canvas with heavy punches.

Sultan gets up at nine, but is immediately pounced upon by a whirlwind, let-it-all-hang-out blitz from his much bigger opponent (Briggs weighs far more than Ibragimov and is taller by two inches).

Ibragimov hangs on for dear life knowing that if he can take Briggs into the late rounds, he may well own him. But if he engages Shannon as he did Ray Austin, he may not get through the round. The combination of Briggs' size and bull-rush tactics seems to be overwhelming him. One is reminded of Lennox Lewis' quick clubbing of "The Foul Pole or Tony Sibson‘s mugging of John Collins. Sultan barely survives the round and heads for the wrong corner on rubbery legs; he appears ripe for the picking as his corner works feverishly to revive him.

As round two starts, Briggs rushes across the ring and continues his brutal attack on a still-dazed Ibragimov. Again, he goes down but this time it is a strategic move as he takes the count on one knee in order to gather himself, a smart ploy. The expected end almost comes as a non-gasping Briggs puts the Russian down again with straight and punishing rights. Shannon turns to the crowd and raises his hands in victory thinking the fight will be stopped. Meanwhile, the referee counts to nine and takes a long, long look into Sultan’s eyes. The Russian holds his arms up and semi-gingerly moves forward at the referee’s command. Surprisingly, he is allowed to continue, but he is admonished to fight back.

shannon briggsAt this point, a not-so-subtle change occurs. When Shannon turns back to see a determined Sultan still standing, his spirit visibly depletes like air rushing out of a balloon. Wow, could this be another “Williams -Shavers” drama? Still, he comes on and hits him with blows that surely would have decked anybody else. The game warrior survives the round and the amazed crowd is up and roaring. The man from Rostov-na-Donu, Russia has won them over.

Round three is a different kind of round as a rapidly tiring Briggs and a slowly but determinedly recovering Ibzagimov both take the round "off" to recover. Has he let the Russian off the hook?

In round four, we get the answer. Briggs does a gut-check, conjures up energy from down deep and goes right after his opponent trapping him on the ropes. Blasting away with malefic shots, its deja vue as he clubs the helpless Russian through the ropes, down and quite literally out for the count. Sultan has learned that Shannon Briggs is no Javier Mora. Sultan has learned that Briggs is no Ray Austin.

Briggs, now 49-4-1 with 43 KO's, retains his crown with his 13th stoppage win in a row and ups his KO percentage to 80%. After the fight, an out-of-character Shannon has nothing but good things to say about his game foe.

Article posted on 29.05.2007

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