In a sport that has been and will continue to be absolutely littered with comebacks, boxing and its fans have to be persuaded over time that a former champ climbing back through the ropes has any kind of genuine shot at enjoying any real success. The latest name to get set for a ring return is Shannon Briggs, the former lineal and WBO heavyweight ruler.
Briggs is 42-years-old now and he hasn’t fought since being badly beaten – in a valiantly brave or foolishly stubborn effort, depending on your opinion – by Vitali Klitschko in October of 2010. Briggs, 51-6-1(45) will face sometimes dangerous journeyman Kertson Manswell, 24-8(18) in Atlanta on February 23rd. Briggs still believes he can regain a world title and the Manswell fight will, he hopes, be the first step towards bigger things.
One thing that might make Briggs’ comeback look at least something like realistic is the physical shape “The Cannon” appears to have got himself in. Briggs has posted plenty of pictures of himself on his Twitter account and, sporting a shaven head to go with the muscles, Briggs looks to be in great shape. Of course, looks can be deceiving, but it does seem as though Briggs has been working very hard in the gym.
Briggs’ return will likely attract a fair amount of attention, and if the ball gets rolling with a number of comeback wins over decent opposition, the interest will grow and grow. But how much has Briggs, an asthma sufferer, got left; how much can he have left after that tough to watch 12-rounder with the now retired Klitschko? Briggs spent considerable time in the hospital after that fight, and people feared for his health and well being. And now, some three-and-a bit years on, Briggs will brave the ring again.
Unless he has nothing left in the tank, or unless Manswell gets home with a lucky shot, Briggs should win later this month, but until he gets past a world ranked opponent the jury will be out on his chances of regaining any world glory. Briggs’ most famous fight might well be his controversial win over heavyweight legend George Foreman. Foreman proved in his own unlikely comeback that dreams are worth going after. Maybe Briggs has learnt a thing or two from the game-plan Big George stuck to on his return. That may mean a slow and steady climb back to the top for the New Yorker.
If Briggs wasn’t permanently damaged by that beating from Klitschko.