The man is virtually unrecognizable, having shrunken himself measurably since we last saw him publicly, showing immense heart and admirable stubbornness against Vitali Klitschko on Oct. 16, 2010.
The Shannon Briggs I saw on Instagram is lean, presumably still mean, and looking to make another run at relevance, and, but of course, outsized paychecks.
Now 42, and having taken a hiatus to let his body heal, and decide how much, if anything, he wanted to do with the sweet science, Briggs, based in Florida, told me he lost 114 pounds, and is looking to pull a George Foreman-style second act.
"That's the new look, I'm looking slim, feeling good," the Brownsville, Brooklyn born hitter tells me. "I did it all natural, and took three years off to get myself together."
No chemical or surgical aids were used to carve himself down, he says, from what a bunch of junk food, ice cream and pastries did to his physique. Nossir, he didn't go the Chris Christie shortcut route to lean out.
When we last saw Briggs, he was drawing accolades for his toughness, hanging in with Vitali over 12 rounds of a one-sided scrap. Briggs (51-6-1) explained that he tore his left bicep in round one, and popped a tendon in that arm, so he was working with a limited arsenal. "If I had two arms....," he says. "In the tenth I caught him with a right hand...."
The man wishes to get another taste of those glory days triumphs, such as his 1997 MD win over George Foreman, and his 2006 late-inning KO stunner over Sergei Liakhovich, to win the WBO heavyweight crown. He was pretty much over the sport, after taking that punishment against Klitschko, which left him in a Hamburg hospital. He recovered, and his Catscan was OK. But business dealings left him angered; he tells me he still hasn't been paid his entire purse from that fight. In January 2011, he filed a suit versus former partners Greg Cohen, Shelly Finkel and Barry Honig, alleging breach of fiduciary duty. Briggs and Cohen worked together on a boxing and entertainment promotional company, Empire Sports and Entertainment, and that partnership dissolved in bitter fashion.
I called Cohen to get his side, and he told me he didn't wish to comment. He gave me a number for an attorney, who he said has represented him, and would speak on his behalf. More than four hours later, I called that attorney, who said he'd need to touch base with Cohen, and see if the promoter wished to speak about the Briggs matter. I could call back next week, the attorney said.
I dialed a number in my Rolodex for Finkel, and it rang, no answer, no answering machine. The contact number for Shelly Finkel Management I found on the web is now a "non working number."
Briggs told me he agreed to settle the case, for a settlement fee less than the purse he was promised. Whatever the specifics, it is clear Briggs is still a bit steamed, and gunshy about the sport, and the people who make the deals for and involving the fighters.
"I was left feeling like I had no one to defend me, but I'm being a man about it," Briggs says, citing beefs with boxing media members, who he feels simply side with the most powerful parties in any equation. "I'm moving forward."
But that's only after, he says, he had a nervous breakdown, and sunk into a depressive state. "The last three years has been an emotional rollercoaster," says Briggs, who lives in Miami with his wife of 20 years, Alana, and three kids, ages 16, 7 and two.
Post-Klitschko, he tried to get involved in other non-boxing ventures, including some Internet marketing with entrepreneur Gary Jonas. That included the marketing of a product pitched as being beneficial to asthma sufferers, such as Briggs. The dreadlocked muscleman and Jonas got into the boxing business together, as well, when Jonas formed a company called Acquinity. The two parted ways after doing business in 2012, and Jonas hooked on with another Brooklyner, Mike Tyson, who is the face of Iron Mike Productions, which is backed by Jonas, CEO of that entity.
Briggs, weighing 240 pounds, says he now has the backing of a billionaire he doesn't wish to identify, and that mogul will be putting on shows, and is talking to potential broadcast partners. "My new motto is: 'the best revenge is success,'' he says. He tells me he has a book coming out shortly, as well.
So, when will he glove up? Early in the new year, he says, and he wants to take the Foreman route this time around. That's Foreman during his second act, when he was the lovable cheeseburger chomper who blasted out C level pugs on USA. Matter of fact, Briggs is gently harassing Foreman regularly, trying to get Big George to train him.
"I'm going to shock the world again," says Briggs. "I have so much energy, I want to show the people." A dream fight, he said, would be him against Mike Tyson, in Brooklyn, at Barclays Center. Briggs told me he spoke to a rep for Tyson about the clash. "If the money is there, I'd love to fight Mike at Barclays, right now," he said. "Two old emeffers, we'd sell the place out."
The hustling, the networking, the grassroots self-marketing, Briggs says he's digging it all. "I love it like this," he says, "my back against the wall."
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV