One Man's Opinion: Win Lose Or Draw Against Green Wolfie Tonight, Shannon Briggs Is A Winner In Life

04.11.06 - By MICHAEL MARLEY, Former Manager, Shannon Briggs: PHOENIX -- The cynics will tell you that, beneath all the tinsel and glitter surrounding Shannon Briggs, you will find only more tinsel and glitter. The knockers say that that Briggs is an impostor who has been playing a role, pretending to be a top heavyweight fighter, for so many years.

That Briggs, the mouthy moptop from Brooklyn, is the boxing equivalent and just as artificial as naugahyde.

They are wrong, so damned wrong, it is not even funny. Because whether he whacks out Sergei Liakhovich or not here tonight (I, Michael Marley, who predicted that Carlos Baldomir would crunch Zab Judah and retire Arturo Gatti, now predict Briggs by KO 7), Briggs will go back home to South Florida a winner.

What makes him a winner regardless of the outcome of this, his second title chance in a career where, it has been noted, he has been chiefly known for being known? I am so glad you asked, dear reader.

Because he goes back to the Miami area to a nice house he shares with his lovely wife, Alana, and their two sons..

Because he has a goodhearted and conscientious manager named Scott Hirsch who is not the usual pugilistic pimp type. Not to mention that Mr. Hirsch has funded Briggs' resurgent career with a budget similar to that of the Miami Dolphins team payroll. If Briggs does not hurt and bag this White Wolf, it cannot be attributed to a lack of funding. Boxing needs fighters who are as locquacious as Briggs and boxing sorely, sorely needs well-heeled managers like Hirsch who never forget that the fighter(s) in his "stable" are human beings and not racehorses.

So why would it be a bonus for boxing to have Briggs as a heavyweight title belt owner?

Because Briggs is bright, articulate and does not slur any words. Come December, he will be 35 years old and Briggs is not tripping over carpets or forgetting what he did 20 minutes ago. He is not Floyd Patterson stumbling through Newark Airport not knowing whether he was in New Jersey or New Zealand.

Because Shannon could give Floyd Mayweather tips on handle himself in any media interview. Briggs still holds the unofficial record, I think, as the pro athlete with the most appearances on the Howard Stern radio program. Briggs has always been able to verbally counterpunch with every crack Stern has made and how many pugs can do that?

Because Briggs, the once homeless and destitute kid from Brooklyn, has Hollywood megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer on speed dial. Shannon has a budding film career which figures to really take off when he is done with boxing. And this "Pineapple Head," as Liakhovich calls him, may be able to break out of the stereotypical Haitian drug dealer roles he has had so far. When Briggs and family relocate from near Hollywood, Fl, to Hollywood, Ca., you'll know he has gotten serious about his thespian career.

Permit me a story going back to when Shannon was struggling to make it as a top amateur boxer and I was about to quit The New York Post to manage fighters. It was part of my get poor quick plan.

Briggs and I became pals. He calls me one day and said he has to get to the airport so he can fly to Poland and then Ireland for some international bouts. Having just come from a family member's funeral, Briggs had no taxi fare. I flipped him $100 and, traveling by himself and for the first time going out of the country, he got to Warsaw and knocked some guy out. He was running around Poland with about 10 bucks in his pocket.

Then he flew to Ireland where he decisioned some Irish amateur. When he came home, he acted nonchalant, like he was ja jetsetter. Hey, Shannon asked me, did you know they have an airport named after me in Ireland? He was quotable and had an infectious sense of humor even then. (He really figured the whole game out when I introduced him to Muhammad Ali and Ali whispered in his ear, "If I fought you, I would've called you Pretty Lady!" As Briggs blanched, Ali fingered his dreadlocks. I promised Briggs not to tell a soul and then I informed the whole planet. Finally, Shannon realized that getting a nickname from the GOAT was bigger than big.

Because, if he dethrones Wolfie, he will be the most quotable heavyweight champion to come around since that Cassius Clay kid came out of Louisville. You will never hear Briggs do that mealy-mouthed, "I do my talking in the ring" routine that promoters rightly hate to hear in a business where the tickets are moving like frozen cakes.

Because, when he meets and greets reasl legends such as JC Chavez and Roberto Duran and, yes, Big George Foreman, Briggs shows respect and becomes a starry-eyed kid who can't believe he is hanging with these Hall Of Famers.

Because he is a great example for all those kids out there, especially those living in polluted ghetto environments. Briggs, win, lose or draw, shows asthmatic kids that you can be a world class athlete ir aworld class anything if you control your asthma and do not let asthma control you.

Because he was good a son as he could be to his tormented mother, Margie. Mama Briggs was an R.N. who beset by demons. She had a key to a hospital drug cabinet and became addicted. You know Margie will be cheering tonight.

Because he had a stepfather who died in prison and a father who was a rolling stone. You know, wherever he laid his hat was his home. Just like the old song. Truth be told, Briggs did own some matching luggage. Both of his bags bore the Food Emporium supermarket label.

Because, other than a few bar fights mostly initiated by others, Briggs has led an exemplary life outside the ring. He is not some knucklehead jock running around with guns and drugs and bling bling and hoochie mamas and all that nonsense. He sends his oldest son to a private school.

Because his "bottle," meaning cojones, is already beyond question. He showed that against a Mr. Foreman and a Mr. Lewis.

By now, you know I love this guy. He is a winner, plain and simple. It says here he will find a way to knock the green White Wolf out. KTFO and the new champeen is Shannon Briggs.

But the title fight is only that, an athletic contest. Whatever the outcome, Briggs has already proven that he is one of life's real winners.

Life handed him a lemon when he was sleeping on the subway in Brooklyn. But Briggs turned it into lemonade. He's a champ, not a tramp, whatever happens here.

A toast to you, Shandog, and a bird flip to all the haters on the internet chat rooms and elsewhere. These cretins are jealous, Shannon, and they have a lot to be jealous about.

You're a winner. And they are all whiners.

photo ©

Article posted on 05.11.2006

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