04.11.06 - By Jim Amato: Talk about a nightmare. What it must be like to lose your prize possession within seconds of retaining it. How badly Sergei Liakhovich must feel right now after losing his WBO heavyweight title to Shannon Briggs in the waning seconds of the final round. The deep inner pain Sergei is feeling now surely hurts worse then any punches Briggs landed..
I felt that this was a good match up for Sergei. Briggs is huge, much bigger then the Briggs that lost to Lennox Lewis. Nevertheless the size took away a lot of the speed that Shannon once had. Sergei has pretty fast hands and he punches well in combination. He is also a good body puncher and I thought that would wear down Briggs. Also Shannon has never been known to have the best chin in the world. Add all this up and on paper it looked like a solid advantage for Sergei.
Where did it all go wrong ? The Liakhovich - Lamon Brewster match that won Sergei the WBO title was a barn burner, one of the best heavyweight fights I've seen in years.Brewster set a blistering pace and Sergei stayed right with him punch for punch. In the Briggs fight, Shannon set a very slow pace and Sergei seemed to be content to go along with it. Neither boxer seemed to be willing to carry the fight to the other and it made for a pretty dull contest. Still Sergei was doing the better work. He was fighting a smart fight if not an exciting one. This was reflected on the cards as Liakhovich was ahead 106-103 on two cards and 105-104 on the other. Even after the first knockdown, if Sergei would have made it to the bell losing a 10-8 round he still wins a split decision and retains his title. Such a shame for Sergei.
Give Briggs his due. He hung in there and when the opportunity presented itself he took full advantage of it. What's next for Shannon ? I'd like to see an immediate return with Liakhovich but it was a bore and I doubt if the fans will be clamoring for a rematch. I heard talk of Briggs meeting Evander Holyfield if he gets by Fres Oquendo. That would really be a horrible match as both Shannon and Vander are terribly slow these days.
What about Liakhovich ? One quick judgement and I may be be wrong is that Sergei fights to the level of his competition. He has the tools and is well schooled but his trainer Kenny Weldon can't get in there a fight for him. Personally I think Lamon Brewster is a better fighter then Briggs and that is a match up I'd like to see if and when Lamon is ready to box again.