Boxing

A Premonitory Fish out of Water: Shannon Briggs Angles With Vitali Klitschko in Germany

by Jeff Meyers - September 2, 2010 - This Tuesday, September 30, Hamburg, Germany, Vitali “Dr. Ironfist” Klitschko (40-2-0, 38 KOs) and Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs (51-5-1, 45 KOs), engaged in an atypical photo shoot during a press tour to promote their upcoming title bout on October 16 at the O2 World Arena in Hamburg, Germany. Clad in designer clothes, the two massive heavyweights (Vitali is 6’8” and 247 lbs., while Briggs stands 6’4” and hovers around 260 lbs.) strolled alongside the sea, acting like giddy old fishing pals as they chuckled, slung their arms around each other and casted fishing lines off the bank of the Elbe river like a couple of old fishing/drinking buddies who hadn’t seen each other in ages.

The photo shoot was a contrast to past press conferences involving Briggs and Klitschko. Briggs’ pressers typically entail a constant stream of testosterone-laden taunts and colorful braggadocio; Klitschko is more reserved and intense, preferring to engage in psychological intimidation in the form of steely stare downs that rival those of cold war KGB interrogators at Lubyanka prison. The glad-handing behavior of the boxers differed starkly from their previous pressers, where both Klitschko and Briggs assured those in attendance that a knockout would come quickly, and easily..

Come mid-October, memories of lively pressers will vanish and the two heavyweight veterans will actually fight. Then, Briggs will discover he is truly a fish out of water against the shrewd Dr. Ironfist.

When using the phrase to say that someone is “a fish out of water,” it means that individual is out of his element. A fish out of water functions very poorly and is quite uncomfortable. Against Vitali, Shannon Briggs is way out of his element and will get knocked out in the mid to late rounds.

Briggs, a likeable guy, always talks a great game when he promotes his fights. However, Briggs’ consistent lack of conditioning and pre-fight preparation inevitably betrays his strong words. Briggs briefly held the WBO heavyweight strap after defeating Siarhei (“White Wolf”) Liakhovich (25-3-0, 16 KOs) in November 2006 in a fight Liakhovich had in the bag. Briggs weighed 268 pounds against Liakhovich, looking like a wheezing boxing robot and on his way to losing a clear decision when—much to then-trainer Kenny Weldon’s dismay—Liakhovich inexplicably decided to go toe-to-toe with Briggs in the twelfth and final round. Briggs caught the White Wolf with some huge shots, and literally knocked him out of the ring with a single second left to go in the fight to win the title.

Briggs got lucky against Liakhovich, but not so much a mere seven months later in his first defense of the title against Sultan Ibragimov (22-1-1, 17 KOs). Ibragimov took full advantage of Briggs’ immobility and lack of cardio fitness in snatching away the WBO strap in a unanimous decision victory. Briggs weighed in at a massive 273 pounds against Ibragimov and was no match for the quickly moving and fast-punching Russian southpaw. Since then, Briggs has fought four tomato cans, weighing in between 258 and 172 pounds, and knocked them all out in the first round—no doubt to ensure he would not have to rely on his conditioning to win the fight.

As for Klitschko, the Ukrainian fighter generally refrains from trash-talking and prefers to let his fists do the communicating. And, unlike Briggs, Klitschko has delivered on all but two of his bouts. Vitali has the highest knockout percentage for any heavyweight boxer in history. Unlike Briggs, Vitali is supremely conditioned for every bout, and consistently throws a high volume of punches throughout the bout. Finally, unlike Shannon, all of Klitschko’s recent bouts have been against fighters ranked in the top twenty five in the division. Dr. Ironfist won each of these fights by TKO, save for Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson (22-1-1, 9 KOs) who ducked, weaved, and bent over backwards literally and figuratively to avoid having to actually throw any punches in the fight.

Many will say Briggs, a heavy-fisted fellow, has more than a mere puncher’s chance against Klitschko. Critics will point to Vitali’s age, history of injuries, and supposed fading skills in recent bouts as chinks in the Ukrainian fighter’s armor that Shannon will surely expose.

Doubtful.

Vitali’s chin is as good as any heavyweight walking. Dr. Ironfist has endured lethal rockets from Lennox Lewis, Corrie Sanders and others that would have decimated most other heavies. There is a reason why Klitschko has never been knocked out or down as a professional boxer. The man can take a punch, and then return the favor with a vengeance.

This fight might end up resembling the Shannon Briggs-Lennox Lewis bout that took place back in 1998. Briggs only weighed 228 lbs. and looked to be in superb condition for the fight, but was no match for the über-focused Lewis. Lewis survived a first round surprising blistering attack by Briggs and appeared momentarily stunned by Briggs’ onslaught. However, Lewis calmly zeroed in on Briggs, knocking him down three times en route to a brutal TKO victory in the fifth round.

Look for Vitali to weather an early storm of haymakers from Briggs, and then calmly pound the Brooklyn-based slugger into submission while Briggs gasps for air with nowhere to run.

jakeameyers@gmail.com

Article posted on 04.09.2010



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