Before Deontay Wilder captured the WBC World Heavyweight title in January of 2015, the last American to hold a piece of one of the bigger world titles was Shannon Briggs. In November of 2006, Briggs stopped Siarhei Laikhovich for the WBO World Heavyweight title before dropping the belt in his next outing against Sultan Ibragimov.
Briggs followed that loss by taking two and a half years away from the ring, trolling around south Florida and even semi-seriously flirting with an MMA career before he realized there was no money in that sport for him.
In 2010, Briggs returned with three straight 1st round KO victories in a six week time period, which was enough to earn him an October of 2010 fight with Vitaly Klitschko. Klitschko won that fight widely, by scores of 120-107, 120-107 and 120-105, and another layoff of more than three years followed.
David Haye was a former Cruiserweight world champion who captured the WBA piece of Heavyweight title back in November of 2009 when he defeated Russian giant Nikolai Valuev. He made successful defenses of the belt against John Ruiz and Audley Harrison before getting beaten by Wladimir Klitschko in July of 2011. He came back in July of 2012 to beat fellow countryman Dereck Chisora in a grudge match, but his proposed follow-up match with Tyson Fury never materialized and he left boxing for more than three years, re-locating at least on a part time basis to south Florida.
Briggs and Haye probably know each other to a certain extent, both having spent considerable time based out of the Miami area during their time off.
With the winds of change blowing in the Heavyweight division for some time April of 2014 saw Briggs, now in his forties, mounted another comeback. This time, Briggs won three straight KO victories in five weeks.
Briggs seemed a bit befuddled when the old formula didn’t work and he was denied a title shot. His chase of Wladimir Klitschko went from funny to weird to crossing the line on several occasions. Briggs continues on a tour of fighting club-level fighters, going 8-0 since 2014, and he has put together 4 more first round KO stops in a row.
After more than three years off, Haye’s return came right after Wladimir Klitschko’s loss to Tyson Fury. Haye basically said “I’m back, where is my title shot?” when he returned, and he seemed a bit befuddled when his title shot didn’t materialize.
Haye had to take a fight and he fought in January of 2016 for the first time in three and a half years, knocking out Australia’s Mark de Mori, who looked like nothing more than a club fighter.
The reasons for the comebacks of both men are different, and the results of both comebacks will be different as well. Briggs has become a caricature of himself, but even at 44 he can summon up enough to beat mid-tier boxers. He is in it for one big payday.
Haye is still 35 years old, and one thing the time off allowed him to do was add muscle. Against de Mori, he looked like a Heavyweight at a chiseled 230 lbs. He is not a cruiserweight anymore.
Haye also wound up having his fight air on DAVE, a small channel in the UK and not at all what he expected either. When all was said and done however, Haye’s fight drew more than four million viewers at its peak, so Haye remains an attraction.
Haye came out of the de Mori fight asking for a title shot and he may get it. But he shouldn’t from a purely sportive perspective. He has not done anything to earn a title shot except talk.
Then this week, the news broke out on the internet that Shannon Briggs had taken his traveling circus of fight solicitation to the UK to look for that big money fight. He has hit the internet with nearly a dozen videos – Briggs at the airport, Briggs at David Haye’s gym etc. One video has Briggs giving his phone number out on the internet and then fielding calls from British fans.
Haye fighting anyone with a pulse will apparently sell in the UK, and Briggs will help him build the hype and sell the fight. Briggs is already beginning to understand that he is unlikely to get a title shot at this point. That won’t stop him from visiting Tyson Fury while he is in England, but David Haye is really his best shot at getting in the ring for decent money.
For Haye, Briggs is still a big, sturdy heavyweight who is of a high skill level and pedigree. Briggs had a solid amateur career and his record stands at a respectable 59-6-1 overall as a pro. Though he is 44, as has been mentioned, he is still dangerous to mid-tier fighters, and Haye is eager to prove he is still an elite fighter. The fight with de Mori did not help him, and a fight with Briggs would show he is back on the active circuit and not just waiting on his title shot. And it might help end the Briggs circus once and for all.