The Shannon Briggs-Hasim Rahman Comparison

hasim rahman19.06.07 - By Matt Yanofsky: Hasim “The Rock” Rahman and Shannon” The Cannon” Briggs have dispelled one common myth, size doesn’t matter. In the “super heavyweight” era, Briggs and Rahman have been super disappointments. Neither fighter has been able to translate their physical attributes into the types of boxing careers they were expected to have.

The asthma riddled Bed Stuy Brooklyn born Briggs was a highly touted amateur. He began his pro career at 25-0, before getting shocked by Darroll Wilson. Briggs was however able to recover and earn a very highly controversial majority decision over linear Heavyweight boxing Champion George Foreman. Briggs’ reign was derailed in only 4 months after winning the belt by getting dropped 5 times en route to a 5th round TKO loss to Lennox Lewis.

Briggs returned 9 months later to defeat journeymen Marcus Rhode and Warren Williams before suffering another embarrassing setback. Briggs lost a split decision to the 9-9 Sedrick Fields. Many thought this was the end of the line for the former champion. He once again came back scoring 4 first round TKO’s {albeit over limited opposition}.

Briggs once again hit a road block when he took on Jameel Mccline. Briggs, who weighed 230 lbs just over one year earlier and 251 lbs only 4 ½ months prior, came in a shockingly heavy 268 lbs. Briggs was dominated and nearly shut out by the unimpressive Mccline.

Briggs attempted one final come back. “The Cannon” had 11 consecutive knockouts over more journeyman-like fighters as well as a 43 year old Ray Mercer. Briggs also had weight fluctuations between 250 and 273 lbs. Shannon also signed with promoter Don King enabling him a title shot at WBO king Serguei Lyakhovich. After 11 1/2 boring rounds with Lyakhovich ahead on the score cards, the exhausted Briggs scored two knockdowns in the final 30 seconds of the fight. The second knockdown put Lyakhovich out of the ring and referee Robert Ferrara stopped the fight at 2:59 of round 12. Luck finally went Shannon’s way and did it ever! If Lyakhovich would have made it back in the ring, he would have retained his title via a draw even after the two last second knockdowns.

Shannon’s first defense was scheduled for March against mandatory challenger Sultan Ibragimov but a case of Walking Pneumonia forced him to pull. After much trash talking from both sides, the fight was rescheduled for June 2nd in Atlantic City. Briggs, who claimed he was under his prior fighting weight of 268 lbs over a month before the fight said he was going to score an easy knockout of Ibragimov. Unfortunately, both were far from the truth. Briggs came into the contest at a career high tying 273 lbs and lost a wide unanimous decision where he tired out and was not able to handle the volume punching Ibragimov. Briggs claimed this will be his last fight.

Hasim Rahman, a survivor of Baltimore’s worst ghetto, began his career 29-0 before getting stopped by the heavy handed David Tua in the 10th round of an exciting contest. Rahman earned a few victories before facing Oleg Maskaev. Rahman was a heavy favorite over the then unheralded Maskaev and viewed the HBO televised fight as an “easy pay day”. For 7 rounds, Rahman was correct and dominated the fight. During the 8th round, Rahman in Briggs like fashion ran out of gas. Maskaev scored one of the most shocking knockouts in boxing history where he landed a right hand and knocked Rahman out of the ring.

Rahman returned 4 months later and reeled off three straight victories including one over future heavyweight champion Corrie Sanders. This earned Rahman a shot at the same man who defeated Briggs for his title, Lennox Lewis. The 15-1 underdog was overmatched during the first four rounds and Lewis appeared en route to retaining his WBC and IBF Heavyweight belts. In the 5th, Lewis started moving slowly and opened the gates for Rahman. The Rock backed Lewis up with about 5 jabs before catching him on the ropes with an enormous right hand which knocked out and dethroned the champion. Rahman ironically knocked out Lewis the same round he had knocked out Briggs.

A rematch was mandated in the contract and was fought 7 months later. The rematch was similar to the first fight through the first four rounds. Unfortunately, Lewis did not let his lead slip away and scored a huge 4th round knockout to take the belts back from Rahman.

Hasim returned unsuccessfully against aging former Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield. Rahman was unfortunately a victim of Holyfield’s legendary head butts and developed a baseball sized welt on his head forcing the stoppage. Rahman gained 34 lbs in a draw during a return match with David Tua on March 29th, 2003 before losing an embarrassing decision to clinching master John Ruiz. Rahman’s career appeared to be finished.

He decided to make one final comeback and defeated former Cruiserweight king Al Cole. A revived and slimmed down Rahman followed up with a few knockouts including one in a WBA/WBC eliminator bout with Kali Meehan. The victory over Meehan enabled him a shot at champion Vitali Klitchko. Rahman ended up fighting for an interim title against good friend Monte Barrett, due to the injury woes of Klitchko. Rahman won an uninspired but understandable decision victory. Rahman was eventually elevated to the full champion as Klitchko elected to retire.

He began his title journey by fighting to a draw with the legendary James Toney. Rahman’s next fight was against his mandatory challenger as well as a man he had unfinished business with, Oleg Maskaev.

Rahman came into the rematch on looking for redemption. The fight was very close heading into the final round where victory on either side appeared to be down to the final stanza. Rahman, confident of a lead attempted to keep away from Maskaev but was caught and got dropped. Rahman once again was spaghetti legged against Maskaev and could not survive. Maskaev landed a flurry which forced veteran referee Jay Nady to stop the contest and crown Maskaev the new WBC King. Rahman did not formally announce his retirement but did appear to be finished for good.

To the surprise of everyone, an uninspired Rahman elected to fight again. On June 14th 2007, Rahman came into the ring against feather fisted/frequent knockout victim Taurus Sykes weighing 26 lbs heavier then his prior fight. Rahman scored an 8th round knockdown and won a much closer then expected unanimous decision while eating many right hands from the lowly Sykes.

As documented, Hasim Rahman and Shannon Briggs have some incredible similarities. To their credit, both overcame many critics and difficult childhoods to become two time heavyweight champions. Unfortunately, both men were unable to have a successful title defense or capitalize on their major victories {Rahman’s over Lewis and Briggs’ over Foreman} and suffered from uninspired fights and chronic weight fluctuations. Both men may be remembered more so for what they could have amounted to instead of what they had accomplished.

Article posted on 20.06.2007

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