Tua vs Briggs: The 90’s To the Rescue

03.02.06 - By Troy Ondrizek: In this decade we have seen boxing and its glamour division stuck in a mire of mediocrity. Lennox Lewis retired after an exciting and slightly controversial fight with Vitali Klitschko. Ever since that fight, the heavyweight division hasn’t given us fans much to cheer about. Sure there have been some entertaining bouts; mostly involving Lamon Brewster, but there still isn’t a defining moment or fighter for this current era. So a couple fighters from the 90’s came to the rescue and decided to give us something to talk about. Former linear heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs has been on a torrid pace of fighting, trying to climb the rankings and get himself a marquee fight to land a prospective title shot. He did just that, and has unofficially, but officially signed to fight former world title challenger David Tua.

Now some might say; why are these old fighters from a decade that seems so long ago now, why are they making big news fighting each other? Well, we need to remember that these fighter’s flames burned bright at a very young age. David Tua was twenty-seven when he fought the much anticipated and consequently disappointing title fight with Lennox Lewis.. Shannon Briggs was even younger, for he was twenty-five when he became linear heavyweight champion with a controversial decision victory over George Foreman. Both of these fighters have been exciting to watch. Their collective careers have been riddled with knockouts. Opponents lying sprawled out on the canvas are the trademark for both fighters. Briggs and Tua have a combined eighty-nine career victories. Out of those eighty-nine victories, seventy-seven of those victories have come the way of knockout.

Lately Tua has fought his best fights in the courts. He broke with his former management team, and was involved in a long drawn-out fiasco in the court system. Meanwhile, David was robbed of some of his best years of fighting. He came back to us in 2005, after nearly two years since his last bout. He fought two low-profile bouts against Talmadge Griffis and Cisse Salif. Tua stopped Griffith in the tenth, and went the distance in an uninspiring performance against Salif back in October. Shannon’s path to this fight has been much different. He has gorged himself on equally as bad opponents, with his record becoming fat with victories. In the past two years we have seen Shannon go on a nine fight win streak; all of which ended by knockout. He beat some undefeated bums on the way, and his comeback has been highlighted by a seven round knockout of Ray Mercer.

The past of both of these fighters is well documented. It is this fight and the subsequent future that we want to know. Tua has seemingly lost his legendary power. He couldn’t stop the less than adequate Cisse Salif, and some say barely pulled out a decision victory. David’s power and chin have brought him along his entire career. We know that exceptional boxers can outbox him and frustrate him, but Shannon might have exceptional skills, but doesn’t have exceptional stamina like Tua does, nor does he have as stellar a chin. Some of Briggs’ critics proclaim that his chin is indeed shaky, but he wasn’t stopped by a monster-hitting George Foreman, and Lennox Lewis is truly the only man to dominate him. Shannon has only been stopped twice, and the stoppage against Lewis eight years ago was the last time. So the questions here about David Tua are; can he maintain his power late enough in the fight to possibly stop Briggs once he tires? Can Tua take the power shots from Shannon as he is aging and we don’t know that his chin is the same? Can David Tua get to the faster Shannon Briggs, and deliver another highlight-reel KO of Shannon?

Briggs has been an anomaly of the sport for some time. He was blessed with every offensive tool that fighters can imagine. He has size, speed, power, and has properly honed his pure boxing skills over the years. His charisma has carried him just as far as his abilities. However, his self-proclaimed immaturity early on in his career cost him so much. He now states that his current mindset has prepared him for a fight of this magnitude and for a championship run. Shannon has a slew of questions to answer in this fight as well. Can he keep from standing in the middle of the ring and trading with Tua? Will his stamina issues arise during the bout? Will Shannon’s chin fail him against the once powerful Tua? All of these questions are viable questions that will be answered by both fighters during this fight.

This fight will give us a legitimate contender for the title. Combined that both of Briggs and Tua are well-liked by fans, and are big name fighters from a day when heavyweights ruled the earth alongside dinosaurs. The winner will assuredly be a top five contender, and draw another big fight later this year. Once again the old adage; style makes fights, will come into play in this fight. Briggs and Tua love to trade, and throw punches. Not only will this fight legitimize the division, but it should be a most entertaining affair that most likely will not be left to the judges. This fight will give us so much to talk about before and after the bout. The electricity is evident with how many people are talking about it, even while it is still in the rumor stage. Though, I am sad that this fight is coming too. It is a crossroads fight for both Shannon and David. The loser most likely will finish short of their desired championship title. I have always liked both of these men as fighters and as people outside the ring. Both Briggs and Tua have been good for the sport, and both given us fans much to cheer about through the years. So I say thank you to the loser for the memories, and thank you to the winner for giving us a something to cheer about. In my mind I have an idea the outcome of the fight. I also have in my mind who I want to win. I will keep all of that to myself and just be thankful that this fight is coming off. Hopefully other fighters will take notice and fight quality fights like this as well. I pray that Nicolay Valuev is watching this one too, because come April 1st, I won’t be watching him. I’ll be watching the fight between Briggs and Tua, even though there is a “title fight” between Valuev and Beck, scheduled for the same night.

This fight is a blast from the past, and it should be a blast to see as well. This fight is going off on April 1st at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. It will be aired by Showtime, free for those who pay for cable. This bout will set the tone for the rest of the year, and will set an example for fighters and promoters alike; that we as fans want quality, exciting affairs between two worthy adversaries. Just don’t get injured guys.

Article posted on 03.02.2006

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