Haye vs Briggs – The script was written before the co-feature highlighted by David Haye 28-2 (26) and Shannon Briggs 60-6-1 (53), both former heavyweight title holders, was announced. And if you’ve followed boxing long enough and have read this space with regularity, you knew the outcome was never in doubt and there would be no stumbling blocks preventing the clash between Haye and Briggs from coming to fruition.
In the semi-wind up at the O2 Arena in Greenwich London this past weekend, Briggs knocked out journeyman Emilio Zarate 20-17-3 (11) at 2:22 of the first round of the scheduled 10-rounder. And in the main event Haye, who promoted the card via his company Hayemaker Promotions, TKO’d no hope Arnold Gjergjaj at 1:35 of round two of their scheduled 10 rounder. Haye had Gjergjaj down in both the first and second rounds and mercifully the fight was halted by referee Terry O’Connor when Arnold got up after going down in his own corner. When all was said and done both Haye and Briggs fought scared rabbits and there’s nothing else to tell. It’s no secret that both David and Shannon can punch and when they have limited opposition in front of them – the fight shouldn’t last too long.
Now we’ll get to see Haye vs. Briggs this coming September as expected. And you know what, the boxing media and fans will excoriate the fight from now until the day after the bout, you can bet on that. We’ll be lectured that it’s a total sham and both Haye and Briggs are doing it for the money and it’s a complete joke. Right! Fighters fight for money and they usually, at least at the world class or championship level, try and get as much money as they can with the least risk while all along hoping to set up the next big fight. Haye-Briggs is a perfect example and if you were either one of them you’d be going forth with it too.
For starters, both fighters want to fight for the title and it doesn’t matter which title. Most likely the winner will look to fight Anthony Joshua 16-0 (16) or Tyson Fury 25-0 (18), if Fury gets by Wladimir Klitschko 64-4 (53) in their upcoming rematch this coming July, which isn’t a given. When Haye and Briggs observe the fighters who currently own most of the heavyweight hardware, do you think either one of them sweat Joshua, Fury or Klitschko? Granted, Haye has only fought twice in the last three and a half years and Briggs hasn’t faced a live body in nearly six years – the fact is, both guys can really crack and have already been in with the best the division has had to offer over the past decade. If you’re Haye or Briggs, you look at Joshua as an untested body builder who hasn’t faced much adversity aside for half a round against Dillian Whyte last year. When they watch Fury, they see an awkward giraffe who can’t punch and doesn’t have the greatest chin. And if Klitschko beats Fury in the rematch, it’s doubtful that the 40 year old Wladimir invokes any fear in either Haye or Briggs.
The name of the game is get a name and be noticed, it doesn’t matter who you beat. Undefeated records and KO streaks gets the attention of most fans, and both David and Shannon have accomplished that in a big way. Think about it, Briggs hasn’t beaten anybody in years but he’s the best talker and most colorful fighter in combat sports including Tyson Fury and Conor McGregor. Briggs has centered his entire comeback on winning the lottery, and if he were to upset Haye, which I doubt he will, he’d cash the winning ticket twice. Shannon is no fool. Remember, he emulated Cassius Clay stalking Sonny Liston with his antics to fight Klitschko for a year. When it didn’t play well in the U.S. he took his act to the U.K. where professional boxing rules. In doing that Shannon captivated an audience and pretty soon “Let’s Go Champ” was being chanted before he could rip off his t-shirt and start flexing his biceps and pecs.
David Haye smartly realized that this guy has a following and commands attention wherever he goes. It doesn’t matter that most don’t view him as a top contender; the point is they react to him and notice what he says and does. It’s reached the point that Briggs via his biceps and protruding confidence has some thinking to themselves – “ya know he can really punch and he does let his hands go. Haye isn’t known for having a chin the likes of Evander Holyfield, so maybe Briggs could get lucky and catch Haye early and stop him?” And that’s what Haye counted on. Inside David wanted Briggs to catch fire and begin to convince fans that he’s legit, so when he knocks him out, it’ll be seen worldwide and he’ll be viewed as the fighter who ended the Briggs show.
Haye knows Briggs isn’t a legit contender for any of the current title holders. However, fighting and beating him will net him more attention and money than it would if he fought someone who the public viewed as being more authentic. But authentic doesn’t sell as much as sizzle and personality does. Haye wants a fight with either Fury or Joshua because he sees one as being vulnerable because he’s not really that good and the other as too inexperienced and green. If Haye takes Briggs out in an impressive fashion, he will get a fight with one of them because he’s the new big name out there, and no doubt Fury and Joshua will see him as beatable and more sizzle than substance and will gladly fight him next before he loses. Haye’s going to get a free 6 or 7 million dollar payday just for putting himself in position for his real payday.
As for Briggs, if he were to upset Haye, he’d get a title shot. And if he gets destroyed by Haye, there will be work for him in the U.K. as a body guard, sparring partner or PR man for Eddie Hearn. Either way Shannon is probably going to make the most of his opportunity and remain relevant one way or another.
Yes, Haye vs. Briggs has WWE written all over it. However, these two guys are natural talkers and will be hysterical during the run-up to the fight. They’ll sell the fight wonderfully and it will be a financial success – and those who don’t see it will definitely be checking the Internet to find out the result on the day of the bout.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com