Barrett, Briggs, Brock – The First American Phalanx

lamon brewster18.10.06 - By Adrian Saba - Lennox Lewis was never so excited and elocuent on television than during the transmition of the rematch between Hasim Rahman and Oleg Maskaev, August 12th 2006. Rock was losing, but could still present a resistance to the aging russian. In the last round there was a simulation of what happened six years prior, except that Hasim didn’t go out of the ring this time. We were witnesses of how the American gassed out, and how the russian went forward to apply the rules of his fists. If I remember correctly, the former Champion held from Maskaev’s leg to keep his massive body inside the ring and to avoid falling into Jim Lampley’s lap again. Maskaev TKO12 Rahman.

No explanations needed about the significance of this, you all know that the division is now under the rule of four beltholders born in territory of the former Soviet Union. Another thing is that, right now, the World Heavyweight rankings show an anomaly. No American is present in the current Top3:

1. Wladimir Klitschko (Ukraine)

2. Oleg Maskaev (Russia)

3. Samuel Peter (Nigeria)

The third beltholder is Sergei Liakhovich and he’s ranked #5 by The Ring. The last of them is the gargantuan Nikolay Valuev, ranked #9.

As it was expected, it was time for the United States to send their first squadron of boxers. The chosen ones would have the mission of regaining one or more of the ABC belts (WBA, IBF, WBC and WBO). The first one was Monte Barrett, who was ranked in the Top10 during most of 2005 and was defeated by Rahman, also during that year. Barrett was doing a fine job and was able to trouble Valuev. It was a very unspectacular fight, in which the bigger man won after devastating his rival. The duration of the fight and the punishment was too much for Two Gunz, who was brutally knocked down several times in the eleventh round of that fight.

The last minutes were amusing, one could watch this enormous boxer, Valuev, beating the smaller one; like a caveman beating his opponent with a club. Sometimes the effort and heart aren’t enough, and size can overwhelm. Monte performed in a courageous way, he was brave, fearless...but he had been inactive for more than a year. Some people criticize his pink gloves. I say: If Pinklon Thomas could wear pink trunks and red gloves, Monte Barrett can wear pink gloves and red trunks.

America’s heavyweight boxing has lost the first battle, but not the war. Of course not. There are two more boxers scheduled to fight for those belts. The first one is the undefeated Calvin Brock (29-0), who will fight Wladimir Klitschko the 11th of November. The other one will face Liakhovich one week before, he is the former Lineal Champion Shannon Briggs (47-4-1). You can read between lines that American boxing is sending competent fighters to reclaim the crowns: one is their most famous undefeated fighter and the other is one of their former Champions. I don’t think that this two fighters are on the same level of Lamon Brewster or James Toney, but they are higly respectable.

Include Monte Barrett in the group, with Briggs and Brock, and you have the first phalanx sent to bring back the belts. Brock is very firm in every aspect, which is a fabulous advantage against the unbalanced Klitschko (good power, good speed, bad chin, bad stamina). In the other fight, Briggs versus Liakhovich, anything can happen. Shannon can initiate the fight by storming Sergei and just overpower him, or his onslaught can be countered and he could end up being exposed by the skill of the Wolf. However, Briggs won’t be knocked out in that fight.

November will be very good for boxing, wake me up when October ends.

Article posted on 18.10.2006

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