Is Shannon Briggs ‘ducking’ Andrew Golota?

Shannon BriggsBy Geoffrey Ciani: It has been almost three months since 40 year old Andrew Golota outworked and out hustled fringe contender Mike Mollo en route to a unanimous decision victory. For the first time in his long and illustrious career, the enigmatic Golota was able to overcome adversity. Fighting with one eye completely swollen shut for much of the contest, Golota was able to keep his composure and stick with his game plan—something he was unable to do in most of his previous marquee match-ups. What was especially impressive about this victory was that his younger foe exemplified the type of opponent who often troubled the Polish pugilist in the past.

In many ways, the victory over Mollo represented a perfect opportunity for Golota to hang up the gloves and call it a career. When the going got tough, instead of searching for an easy exit, as was characteristic throughout most of his career, Golota hung in there and triumphed against a local rival. Despite the opportunity to exit on a high note, it appears Golota still has something to prove. Evidently, he is still focused on landing another bid for the title, and with Don King on his side, who can blame him?

In order to take the next step towards a championship fight, it appears the next hurdle Golota must jump might come in the form of former WBO champion Shannon Briggs. According to my source close to negotiations, Briggs’ manager is at DKP seeking a fight for Shannon. Apparently, he wants the Golota fight, and Golota is more than happy to oblige his wishes. Unfortunately, there is one little detail getting in the way, and that is Briggs’ apparent reluctance to sign the contract. Perhaps Briggs is simply holding out for King to put an extra “0” somewhere by his name, but in the meantime, we have to wait and see what comes of these negotiations.

A fight between Briggs and Golota should still prove interesting, despite their advanced age. While many observers might view this as an insignificant contest between two aging fighters, it is conceivable that the winner of such a match could be in position for another crack at one of the titles. In the division’s current landscape, Golota and Briggs can realistically both have an impact on how things unfold. After all, Golota, currently ranked in the top ten of both the WBC and WBA, is also ranked number twelve in the IBF, where Briggs sits just behind him at number thirteen. Furthermore, it has been less than a year since Briggs reigned as the WBO champion which he ultimately lost against Sultan Ibragimov last June.

What makes a bout between Golota and Briggs so interesting is the contrast in styles. Briggs is a fast starter who has big time stamina issues, as recently displayed in his loss to Ibragimov, whereas Golota is a slow starter with impeccable stamina for his age, as recently evidenced in his victory over Mollo. The outcome of this contest may largely depend on what happens in the first two rounds. Can Briggs jump on Golota early and put an end to things before he gets going, like Lennox Lewis and Lamon Brewster accomplished? Or can Golota weather the early storm and take advantage of Briggs’ lethargic work rate as Ibragimov did? Either way, this one should provide an entertaining scrap with massive fireworks along the way.

It appears that the ball is now in Briggs’ court. If he decides to sign, a logical venue would be Madison Square Garden, which is like a second home to Golota that happens to be right in Shannon’s backyard. If Briggs prices himself out, Golota would best serve his own interests finding an opponent and getting back in action as soon as time permits. The clock is ticking, but in the current landscape, there is no reason to believe Golota cannot succeed in a goal which has long eluded him—winning a portion of the heavyweight championship.

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Article posted on 08.04.2008

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