ESB Exclusive Interview: Shannon Briggs: The Championship Mentality

03.01.06 – By Troy Ondrizek: Many prospects come and go without ever achieving their perceived greatness. Their flames are put out as fast as they were ignited. Every now and then though; a prospect comes along and reinforces our belief that they will become something. In the early ninety’s a young man out of Brooklyn came onto the scene and showed us immense promise. He started to fulfill that promise when he received a controversial decision over the great George Foreman. With that victory Shannon Briggs became the Linear heavyweight champion. No belt is placed around the waist of this type of champion. Instead they are considered the best at that time; regardless of what a sanctioning body wants us to think. Shannon received an opportunity in his next fight to gain one of those aforementioned belts. However, after Shannon gave Lennox Lewis a scare early on; Lewis roared back and stopped Briggs in five rounds. It was after that fight that Shannon Briggs’ flame began to dim. He kept it burning ever so lightly for four years. Then all of a sudden he suffered an embarrassing loss to Jameel McCLine. At that point it seemed that what was once a great career had finally ended un-poetically. Then Shannon Briggs emphatically came roaring back feasting on no name fighters. Shannon has now re-ignited our interest in him, and showed us that some prospects can make a name for themselves; even if it takes thirteen years. Shannon is about to fight Chris Koval for the vacant USBA heavyweight title. He has stopped his last nine opponents within the distance; including a sixteen second knock out of his last opponent. Shannon took the time to talk with me while training for his next match to talk about his standing in the division and his plans for conquering it..

Troy: What is different about your current resurgence in the sport as opposed to when you first made your run to a title?

Shannon: “When I was younger I wasn’t as mature you know. Troy I was thinking this morning earlier about my renewed concentration and commitment to the game. When I was a young fighter I didn’t know how to train, or how to act responsibly. I have better stamina now; I know how to spar now. The biggest thing is my maturity though; I have taken time to grow.”

Troy: Was there a single event or series of events that helped you mature into the fighter you are now?

Shannon: “It wasn’t any event or anything like that. It was time Troy. I turned pro back in 92’ you know, and since then I been fighting every year. As I have been fighting; I’ve been learning. I had a quick rise to the top when I was young, but I couldn’t handle it you know. Had I beaten Lewis I might not be fighting today. I didn’t know how to handle money back then, or fame. I just took my time and stewed Troy. In that time I never was hurt or badly beaten. You know some fighters today have dementia by the time their forty. Their brains are gone and they won’t last much longer. I am still fresh. I feel blessed by being so. I have grown as a man, and a fighter. Troy my mental abilities have caught up with my physical abilities, and thankfully it wasn’t because my physical abilities depreciated.”

Troy: During your first rise to the top you fought both Foreman and Lewis. Those two fighters are two of the greatest of all time. Does being in the ring with them give you an advantage experience wise over some of today’s top fighters?

Shannon: “No Troy. That was the past you know. I mean it was great back then, but now it means nothing. I am a better fighter now than I was back then. I am better trained and I know how to handle myself outside the ring. My life experience is the best experience for me in the ring.”

Troy: What makes you so confident that this rise to the top will end in a title?

Shannon: “My abilities Troy. Like I’ve said, I am a more determined fighter. I have a fire. I love fighting. I keep in great shape. I might be heavier than I was back in the day, but I have more stamina and strength. I can handle fame now. I am the champion that people want to have. My charisma and love for the sport; fans can respect that. I am still young as a fighter. I want to fight one hundred career fights Troy. I feel like I have another ten years left in me. I could even fight until I’m fifty Troy. I like to set goals Troy, and one hundred career fights I know I can reach if healthy.”

Troy: Your half way to hundred now.

Shannon: “That’s right Troy I am. So think of it this way, my career is only half done. You have a long time of seeing me fight.”

Troy: Your 51st fight is against Chris Koval. What do you expect from him in this fight?

Shannon: “I don’t know much about him at all. I do know he runs his mouth too much. I run my mouth, but I can back it. He isn’t near as good as he thinks he is. So whatever he brings into the ring; I’m just going to go and shut him up. I think my fist in his face will do it.”

Troy: Since your last loss to McCline; you have stopped your last nine opponents. However, besides Mercer; they were against all no name opponents. When are you going to step up the competition?

Shannon: “Yeah I’ve been looking for big fights. I should’ve never fought Jameel. It was like I was trying to catch a mouse the whole fight. My back was injured because I gained a lot of weight. I was on a drug called Prednisone. I ballooned up to like 300lbs and had to lose it before the fight. I went down some, but I was still very heavy. I became friends with Jameel after the fight, and he told me he sparred like 150 rounds. I sparred only nineteen; if that, because I was always stopped because of my back. Since then I’ve been healthy and dedicated. I would love to get a fight with Samuel Peter. He is still in Africa visiting his family. So when he gets back I’ll try to get that going. I’ll fight anybody though. Whoever they put in the ring I’ll fight. I have no problems taking on all-comers. I would love to get in there with some top ten fighters and get my title. My manager Scott Hirsch does a great job keeping me busy and getting me prepared for big fights.”

Troy: It seems that ever since you signed with Scott that he has put you on a torrid pace of fighting. He has done the same for J.D. Chapman. How is having a manager like Scott helped you?

Shannon: “Troy you know Scott is great. He really looks out for his fighters. Before Scott I had to make my money out of the ring. You know I did movies; Bad Boys 2, Transporter 2. Scott is rich. I hate to say it, but he has a lot of money; so he doesn’t try to make money off of us. He loves the sport. He knows more current boxers than I do. He knows their records and what type of fighter they are. He is a breath of fresh air for the sport. He has taken care of me. He has set up a pension plan for me; so I can always take care of my family. He just wants boxers to fight. I love waking up in the morning and knowing I’m fighting for him. The sport needs more people like Scott Hirsch. Don King needs to learn some things from this man. With him around; boxing has a bright future.”

Troy: Samuel Peter has no notable victories on his record. What does he bring to you in regards to you furthering your career?

Shannon: “Troy he brings a name. Fight fans love this guy for some reason, and he brings people into the sport. Your right Troy, he hasn’t beaten anybody. Who does he have on his record? Maybe Yanqui Diaz, and who is he? He has beaten Taurus Sykes; who has like two knockouts in his career. Even when Peter stepped up, he lost to Klitschko. As for Klitschko, what is he. He lost to Lamon Brewster who is a good fighter. He lost to Corrie Sanders; who can really punch. Troy, Klitschko seems to be wearing out though. Samuel Peter almost beat him. Samuel has a strong punch, but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to boxing skills. Peter is young and still can be a contender, but he hasn’t proven anything yet.”

Troy: In Peter’s fight with Klitschko; Wladimir seemed to write the blueprint on how to beat Peter. Will you follow the same game-plan, or employ one of your own?

Shannon: “No Troy I would just take the fight to him. He hasn’t fought anyone like me. Klitschko is a boxer. I can box and punch and pressure Peter like he’s never been pressured before.”

Troy: If you can’t get a fight with Samuel Peter soon; are you willing to try to avenge your loss to Jameel McCline?

Shannon: “I would definitely take that fight. I have always wanted to avenge my losses. I haven’t gotten a chance to fight any of the fighters that beat me. I was looking for a rematch with Lennox, but it never happened.”

Troy: You have your critics Shannon. They claim you have a dodgy chin and have stamina issues. They say that your lack of defense leaves you open for a knockout loss. What do you have to say to them regarding their comments?

Shannon: “No chin? Who has knocked me out? No one! I wasn’t knocked out by the hard-hitting George Foreman. I went down three times against Lennox Lewis. He caught me with some good shots Troy. I had him hurt and he retaliated. I got up every time. The last time I went down against him it was a slip. I got up and the referee stopped it. He knocked me down, but he didn’t knock me out. Against Darroll Wilson I succumbed to fatigue. Those are the only fights I didn’t finish. They just are negative. Unfortunately some of these negative people have pens and proclaim their misinformed ideas out to the masses. I have trained harder to improve my stamina, and my movement in the ring is much better. That makes my defense better nowadays too. I have never had a questionable chin, but if other fighters want to think that; let them try it out. We’ll see who falls first.”

Troy: What can the boxing world expect to see from Shannon Briggs in 2006?

Shannon: “From 2006 to 2012; the boxing world is going to see me fight; and fight often. I will give everyone a lot of knockouts and exciting fights. I will be champion in 2006. Expect the world to learn my name.”

Troy: Any last words for your fans and the readers?

Shannon: “I would like to thank you Troy for getting my word out there. I would like to thank eastsideboxing for their great job keeping fans informed. I would like to thank my fans for their continuing support.”

I would like to thank Shannon Briggs for taking the time out to talk with me. I would like to thank Stacy “Goodnight” Goodson for help setting this up. A special thanks to Scott Hirsch for completing the task of making this possible; and for giving fight fans active fighters to keep us interested. Shannon will definitely be a big player this year in the division. He has the skills necessary to become champion. His biggest obstacles will be setting up big fights, and whether or not he will still be as dominant inside the ring against top opposition. I wouldn’t want to be the first ranked fighter to find out that Briggs is legit though.