Lennox Lewis/Shannon Briggs Report



by Pusboil

Shannon Briggs justified himself tonight. Big time. In a fight that saw him get pummeled at times, and knocked down three times he, if nothing else, got back up and proved he was a fighter. What more could you ask for from the man recognized as the lineal heavyweight champ of the world?? Briggs obviously wanted to prove all his critics wrong.

Speaking of critics, I was one of them. Since I double as webmaster here, I think I’ll have to go back and change my report on the Briggs/Foreman fight. The things I criticized him for in that fight were nowhere to be seen tonight. He looked like a fighter who wanted to fight and win.

Lewis looked exactly like what Emanuel Steward his trainer said he wasn’t, overconfident.

Briggs actually gives Lewis credence in being recognized as the champ now, especially since Lewis looked quite beatable tonight. I await Briggs’ next fight. I hope he moves on from this defeat and faces Lewis again. Lewis may have overlooked Briggs but I don’t believe so. I believe he was a little surprised at Briggs’ resilience.

We have reports from Thomas Gerbasi, Phrank Da Slugger, myself, BoxngRules, BoyMayo, Dennis Marconi, KnuckleJunction and Dscribe DC. Enjoy and make sure you check out our new edition of the CBZ journal coming out April 1st.

In case you were wondering where our editor-in-chief GorDoom is, he is internet challenged this fine morning, so the inmates are running the asylum.


Lennox Lewis in the Land of Misfit Heavyweights

by Thomas Gerbasi

Last night in Atlantic City, Lennox Lewis was crowned heavyweight champion. You know, the real thing, the Linear title. Lewis can now trace the lineage of his title back through boxing's long and sordid history. From Sullivan through Dempsey, from Louis to Marciano, from Ali to Holmes. After years of being dodged and ducked by every heavyweight who has meant something in the 90's, he is finally "the man who beat the man". Let's forget that the man he beat was Shannon Briggs, who really didn't deserve the crown anyway, but that's another rant. The point is that for all the Evander Holyfield fans out there, Lennox Lewis is the TRUE heavyweight champ. No alphabet soup here. That should tell Evander something, shouldn't it?

For now Holyfield is content to fight the Akinwandes and Bothas of the world, the only match boxing fans want to see has been put so far on the back burner that it's not even on the stove. Now who can blame Evander? In his defense, the Akinwande fight is a mandatory one, but why couldn't the Lewis fight have been made months ago? Don't blame HBO. If anything, Holyfield is an even better businessman than he is a fighter, which means that he's going to make sure he doesn't get starched by Lewis before he can break the bank with a lucrative third fight with Mike Tyson, who as you read this is getting ready to play with the bleached hair and tights crowd over at the WWF.

And Lewis would beat Holyfield. Even though Holyfield has been blessed with the heart of a lion and tremendous skill, Lennox is just too big for him. Lewis' last two fights have been definitive kayos of Briggs and Andrew Golota. Neither are small guys. Lewis' right hand lands with a thud not a slap, and I just can't see Holyfield taking too many of them without falling. I see Lewis-Holyfield as reminiscent of Holyfield-Bowe III.

So without a Holyfield matchup, what do we do with Lennox Lewis? After taking care of Golota in less than a round last October, Lewis stated that he wanted to clear the heavyweight division of all the misfits. Well, he took care of another last night, but one, who like Michael Moorer against Holyfield, saw his stock rise higher in defeat. Briggs survived an opening bell stalking by Lewis, and actually won the first two rounds on my card, hurting and almost dropping the champion in the first.

Briggs seemed loose and confident, but if he spent as much time on defense as he did on shaking his head disdainfully at his opponent, we could have had a different result to the fight. By the third, Lewis' jab was landing more frequently, which set up his right hand beautifully. In the fourth, Briggs hit the floor twice, but he gamely rose and fought back, winning new fans by the second. It was just a matter of time though, and in the fifth, the right hand assault by Lewis brought another knockdown and an end to the fight at the 1:45 mark.

Lewis now must wait for the next misfit to arrive. Did he look good last night? Yes and no. His punching power is always impressive, but he had too many awkward moments which made him look amateurish against a guy he should have taken out within two rounds. He got clipped and jarred a few times by Briggs, and one has to question his chin again, which has been dented by lesser lights like Frank Bruno and Oliver McCall. But who else is there? Akinwande? Arrrrghhh! Can you imagine him beating Holyfield and a unification rematch between him and Lewis? It frightens me just to think about it. Chris Byrd and Michael Grant? Too young and inexperienced right now. Tyson? After Holyfield beats him again, whatever is left of his mystique will be gone. The choice is clear, and the fans must demand it. Lewis vs. Holyfield. It is the only match worth making in the sorry heavyweight division. Evander, the ball's in your court. Fight Lewis. It's what a warrior would do.


by Phrank Da Slugger

Lennox Lewis showed tonight that he's no less than the 2nd best Heavyweight out there. He went through some rough going to knock the shit outta Shannon Briggs. Briggs showed he's got a lot more heart than we gave him credit for. Briggs came to fight. Whether he was properly prepared to win is another thing, but he definitely didn't show up to roll over...

Briggs punched back till the end, got up 3 times and gave Lewis a scare in the 1st rd. Early on, he effectively used movement to stay away from the Big Right Hand. But after a battle, he slowed down and became a stationary target -- and no one save Ray Mercer can afford to stand in front of Lewis. He also absorbed some fightning shots from the division's hardest puncher, forever silencing questions about his chin...

Lewis accomplished what he needed to, retained his title and vanquished another Heavyweight contender. But he did little in convincing me that he's the best Heavyweight out there. If nothing else, Holyfield plays to his weaknesses. Holyfield probally hits as hard as Briggs, certainly will take the fight to Lewis in a more effective manner and, yes, is stronger than Lewis. He'd give Lennox fits on the inside...

But in the end, there can be no complaints -- it was an exciting fight, featured knockdowns and a knockout, and we got to see 2 good, in-shape fighters fight their asses off. All in a concise, 1-hour program. Beats an Arum PPV card anyday...

Night of the Living Dreads

by Pusboil

When was the last time the heavyweight championship of the world was guaranteed to go to a man in dreadlocks? Well we knew tonight a man in dreads was going to take home the title no matter what. And one man was to be left for dread (sorry couldn’t resist).

Briggs look like that ramming dinosaur from "The Lost World" with his hair sticking straight back and looked like he was putting on an air of confidence for the crowd. When the two fighters met in the center of the ring for instructions, Briggs started talking to Lewis. Lewis just stood there as stoic as I’ve ever seen anyone.

Before the fight even started, Lewis was showing how anxious he was to get to Briggs by ignoring referee Frank Cappuccino’s orders to move all the way back to his corner. Cappuccino asked him three times before he partially complied. As soon as the bell rang, Lewis went right after Briggs. He apparently wanted to make it home early tonight, because he was clearly looking for a first round KO.

And a first round KO it almost was, but Lewis was on the receiving end of it. Briggs caught him with a left hook that found Lewis a little off balance and sent him reeling into the ropes. Clearly the ropes kept Lewis from going down, but Cappuccino did not call it a knockdown like the rules say he should. Can’t blame Cappuccino too much, it seems this tiny little rule has been long forgotten. I’ve seen countless fights in the last few years where this same incident occurs and it’s ignored, but I digress.

I scored the round 10-8 for Briggs, not only because it should have been a knockdown, but the rest of the round was clearly his and he just beat on Lewis for a while there. The second round saw Briggs come out as the aggressor, quite a surprise for the man who everyone called too scared to fight. Lewis turned into Henry Akinwande and started holding Briggs for much of the round. He didn’t look confident at all and Briggs easily out-landed him in the round.

Lewis came back and took control of the pace early in the third. He started landing his jab and throwing more left hooks. Briggs hardly threw any punches this round and was hurt by combinations from Lewis. The jab, right hand to the body, and left hook to the head was a nice combination Lewis used to take control of the fight. Easily Lewis’ best round yet.

Lewis kept on attacking Briggs in the fourth and forty-five seconds into the round dropped Briggs with a right hand. Briggs actually looked up and nodded at Lewis while on the canvas. He got up but looked a little tired now and I wasn’t sure if he’d finish the round. But Briggs managed to throw some shots to try to keep Lewis at bay. He caught Lewis with a good left hook and Lewis responded with a left hook that dropped Briggs again with about 35 seconds to go in the round. But once again he got up and continued to fight and made it to the bell.

About 1:10 into the fifth round Lewis landed a crushing right hand that sent Briggs sailing to the canvas. I said to myself, "well that’s it." But Briggs got up again but now he looked hurt, hurt but still ready to mix it up. Lewis started landing punch after punch, but amazing enough it wasn’t a Lewis punch that ended this fight. Briggs threw a leaping left hook, missed and fell to the canvas. Cappuccino stepped in and stopped the fight.

There was no quit in Shannon Briggs tonight. He should be damn proud of that. Lewis better show up 100% if they fight again, or if he fights someone else. He did not impress anyone with his skills tonight. He does have great skill but no killer instinct. Lewis does deserve respect, he beat a formidable opponent tonight in Briggs. The bulk of that respect though comes from the way Briggs fought like a true champion tonight.

Fight Report

by Boxngrules

Lennox Lewis TKO 5 Shannon Briggs

Look at those words, you are now thinking Lewis knocked Briggs silly for all 5 rounds until he could take no more. That is far from the truth. In fact, Lewis had to overcome a bumpy first and second rounds to dispatch of Briggs at 1:45 of the fifth of their scheduled 12-round WBC Heavyweight title bout.

It all started at the end of the opening session. A feeling-out round at best turned into what was almost an upset. Briggs pushed Lewis into the ropes and preceded to throw punches that might have convinced just about any other referee in the world to stop the fight. But Frank Cappuccino was fair by letting Lewis continue, even though he was not throwing back punches. In the second frame, Briggs again caught Lewis with a barrage of punches.

In Round 3, Lewis began his assault on Briggs. He landed a showcase of right hands in that round. Going into Round 4, just about every viewer was expecting what would happen next. Lewis caught Briggs with a mean left hook in the beginning of the round that wobbled the 26-year-old native of New York. Seconds later, Briggs was introduced to the canvas after being caught with a series of right hands. Nearing the end of the round, Briggs was put on his back again.

Going into the next and what would be the final round, Briggs had earned my respect as he had proved his warrior heart and kept going. He was caught with a devastating right hand and was put flat on his back. Many thought this would be Darroll Wilson all over again. But Briggs got up at 5 after Jim Lampley and the rest of the HBO broadcasters suggested it would be over in a matter of seconds. It was truly over after Briggs missed a punch and went down in the process, the referee stopped it then.

Lewis took his record to 33-1, with 27 inside of the scheduled distance. Briggs, who won a controversial decision over George Foreman in his last fight, downed to 30-2 (24 KO's).

On the undercard, Charles Brewer scored a tenth-round technical knockout over Herol Graham to retain his IBF 168-pound title. Brewer, 31-5 (21 KO's), was dropped twice in Round 2. Graham, 48-6, was caught with 10 unanswered punches in Round 10 and the fight was stopped then by referee Earl Morton.

Lewis/Briggs Report

by BoyMayo

Tonight in Atlantic City, New Jersey, WBC Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis took on challenger Shannon Briggs.

Much has been made of this matchup between two men who are considered question marks in the heavyweight division. Lewis' career has been plagued by inconsistent flashes of excellence, while the once hot prospect Briggs couldn't even beat an aged George Foreman. Indeed, tonight's matchup hoped to answer some of the more pressing questions surrounding either fighter's abilities.

Briggs entered the ring first. His demeanor was in marked contrast to his nervousness prior to the Foreman fight. Briggs was smiling and wore only an old t-shirt drenched in sweat to attest to his pre-fight warmup. Lewis came next, robeless. Once he entered the ring, he stood in complete stillness, his eyes locked on Briggs. Like a giant statue, Lewis eyeballed Briggs through Michael Buffer's ever-growing list of official's names, not blinking once. As he was announced, HBO's cameras zoomed in...only his eyes filled the screen. It was a menacing focus that didn't let up during the final instructions when a laughing Briggs said to Lewis "We're in prime time." Lewis backed up slowly to his corner. No less than eight times he was told to step all the way back, and each time Lewis took a baby step back, as though he were going to pounce at the opening bell.

When the bell starting Round One rang, Lewis came to Briggs quickly and fired a few solid power combinations to Shannon's head. It was clear within moments that Lewis was looking for the quick kayo that many had predicted. After backing the challenger up for a moment, Briggs fired a few one-two's of his own to let Lewis know that he wasn't going to fold like Golota had. As the round continued, Lewis was trying too hard to knock out Briggs. His reputed jab was simply pawing for range so that his big right could end the night. This continued until, with half a minute remaining, Briggs landed a left hook that caught the top of Lennox' head while he was squared up. Lewis staggered back to the ropes so off balance, that it initially looked as though his retreat was due to a slip. But when Briggs caught up with him, Lewis covered up and Briggs unloaded. As four left hooks backed up the 6'7" champion, Lewis spun around. A Briggs right hand landed on the back of Lewis' head and he staggered again, this time across the ring to a neutral corner. When Briggs came in to finish, Lennox Lewis used his 84" reach to full advantage, hugging Briggs like he was home for a family reunion. As Lennox clung for dear life, the bell rang. The party was over.

Round Two began with Briggs coming out fast, showing his new confidence. Unfortunately, Lewis suddenly found his jab. While Lewis has often bragged about his jab after fights in which it was feeble at best, his stick had good hard snap on it in the beginning of this round. Shannon Briggs was kept at range for the first two minutes of the round until he landed a left hook and two good right hands that hurt Lewis. Lennox was able to answer with a flush overhand right of his own before the bell. Lewis had regained control of the fight's pace, but again in this round was being hurt each time Briggs caught him.

After two rounds of reversed expectations, Lennox Lewis finally got his act together. He began the third round fast, landing a number of combinations on Briggs. Lewis also changed up his timing, opting instead for lead right hands that caught Briggs expecting a jab. Briggs seemed to take most of the round off, and Lewis capitalized, dominating the round and tying up Briggs before he could retaliate. Lewis was now in firm control

Lewis came out for the fourth round the way he should have come out in the opening round: aggressive, fast, and powerful...but with the patience that guaranteed his accurate punching would be effective. After 45 seconds of unanswered punishment, Briggs staggered back and fell to the ropes after absorbing a beautiful Lewis right hand. Briggs showed the courage many felt he lacked in his sole loss to Darroll Wilson by getting up and coming right back at the champion. Lewis obliged Briggs by hitting him with everything but the kitchen sink for another minute. Mid-swarm, Briggs snuck in another of the left hooks he had successfully used against Lewis, and for a moment, Lewis again looked stunned. But before Briggs could capitalize, Lewis suddenly unloaded a heavy three punch combination that again dropped Briggs onto his side. Briggs rose and survived the round, but his destruction seemed nearly complete.

The Fifth Round began unlike the others, with Lewis beginning slow and Briggs throwing the first punches. Lewis, looking tired, deals with Briggs attempt to regain respect by steadily beating his opponent. Shannon's face becomes a mask of anguish. He seems unable to stop Lewis from clubbing his head, and at 1:10 of the round, a particularly heavy right hand drops Briggs flat on his back. As he lies spread eagle at center ring, his closed eyelids are flicking as if he were in REM sleep. HBO announcer Jim Lampley calls out that "Briggs will not get up from this one." But Briggs' eyes snap open at the count of six and he jumps to his feet, shakes his head and somehow is able to convince Frank Cappuccino to let him continue. Lewis bombards him with punches and snaps his head in every direction. Just as it becomes clear that the fight should be stopped, Briggs launches a final hail mary left hook that misses Lewis and carries the weakened Briggs to the canvas. Cappuccino, waves his hands. Briggs' protests (he was not dropped by a punch), but the call is just. Lewis had given Briggs a serious beating.

Lennox Lewis TKO5.

But who won? The answer might not be as obvious as it seems.

Yes, Lennox Lewis dropped Shannon Briggs three times before referee Frank Cappuccino mercifully prevented Briggs from taking more punishment, but did he meet expectations? Absolutely not.

Winning was not enough. Winning by knockout was not enough. Looking invincible was what mattered tonight. Lennox Lewis looked anything but.

In the aftermath of the Andrew Golota fight, Lennox Lewis needed an equally unquestionable win to solidify his chances of luring Evander Holyfield into a matchup. Only by looking too good to ignore could he perhaps entice the competitive Holyfield into a fan-mandated showdown of champions. But tonight's fight, while still a solid victory, smacked of his loss to Oliver McCall. In that fight, Lewis was looking past the lightly regarded challenger to a mega-fight with Riddick Bowe. His susceptibility to a good left hook got him knocked out that night, and it nearly ended his second title reign tonight in similar circumstances. While still demonstrating his power, Lewis reminded us that his chin is weak, that his balance is a major problem, that his jab can evaporate without notice, and that he still hasn't learned not to underestimate his opponent.

After the fight, the much anticipated interview with Lewis did not produce the call-out to Evander that Emanuel Steward had led reporters to believe was a given. In fact, a humble (by his standards) Lewis looked thankful to have survived the bout. The Brit claimed that he was only "at 80% tonight" and alluded to the fact that he hadn't trained particularly hard for the fight. One can only wonder why.

As for Shannon Briggs, one wonders where he can go from here. Not only was he beaten severely, but after the fight, he too admitted to a lackadaisical training regimen, blaming the boxing press' critique of his performance against Foreman for him "only getting into the gym a month ago". So lightly regarded is Shannon Briggs, that the precious lineal title that he held after decisioning Foreman was not mentioned a single time on the air by HBO. This loss drops Briggs back into the depths of the top-20 rankings, where perhaps he should stay.

Once again Lennox Lewis gets the victory...but not the win.


by Dennis Marconi

For the first time in nearly two years, WBC Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis met an opponent who fought back. Fortunately for Lewis, that opponent was a rather raw and somewhat unskilled Shannon Briggs who managed to put up a pretty decent fight for almost two rounds before being stopped in the fifth round of their heavyweight title bout Saturday night in Atlantic City.

While it was far from being a memorable title fight, this one had enough action to keep the crowd roaring and on their feet through much of the four plus rounds which featured three knockdowns by Lewis. But, it was the challenger, Briggs, who seemed to win the crowd over with his brave but futile effort to win the title.

Briggs, a 12-1 underdog, came out fighting at the opening bell, and was met by an overly aggressive Lewis who was obviously intent on going for the quick kill. Forgetting to use his vaunted and jab, Lewis looked sloppy as he continually missed with his right hand leaving himself wide open for counter lefts. Briggs, who connected on 60% of his punches in that round, finally caught an off balance Lewis at the end of the round with a left hook that staggered the champion and sent him reeling against the ropes. Briggs pounced on his opponent and landed some solid shots which seemed to hurt Lewis before the bell. It was clearly Briggs' round.

The second round continued where the first left off with Briggs scoring well and often in the first minute. He seemed to hurt the champion again with a leaping left hook, but Lewis began to find the range with his jab and some left uppercuts which snapped Briggs head on several occasions. At the end of the round, Lewis finally began to put together some crisp combinations which probably earned him the round, though it was very close.

A more relaxed and steady Lewis continued to use his powerful left jab as the third round started. By the middle of the round, Lewis began connecting with some solid right hand leads to Briggs' head which seemed to slow down the challenger considerably. By the end of the round, Briggs had stopped throwing punches and seemed to be very tired.

Sensing the plight of his opponent, Lewis came out fast in the fourth and scored well with several flurries which rocked Briggs. After absorbing nearly a dozen unanswered punches, Briggs finally went down to the canvas. Though he got up quickly, Lewis continued to hurt him with stiff and accurate combinations. Hurt and barely able to lift his hands up, Briggs captured the heart of the crowd by fighting back and landing some shots of his own before a left-right combination put him down again for an eight count. To everyone's surprise, Briggs bounced up and hung on to last out the round by throwing punches.

In the fifth and final round, Briggs came out of his corner and tried to go after Lewis with some determination. But ,he was met by too many solid right hands which stopped him in his tracks and sent him tumbling to the canvas flat on his back and seemingly out for the count. Again, Briggs somehow managed to get up before being punished by more power shots from Lewis. After being driven to the corner, Briggs fell face down after missing with a wild left, and referee Frank Cappuccino called a halt to the contest at 1:45 of the fifth round.

After the fight, Lewis admitted that he could have made a better showing as he only gave himself a rating of about 80%. He said about Briggs that," he was braver than I expected but, I made him fight. I'm glad he came to fight." An exhausted Briggs apologized for not being in better shape. " I had personal problems which interfered with my training," But, I'm still young at 26 and I'll be back.," he told Larry Merchant of HBO.

Strangely enough, this was a fight which both men seemed to pull off what they wanted to prove. By displaying such courage and heart, Briggs seemed to all but eradicate the tag " quitter" that many had labeled him after his knockout loss to Daryl Wilson two years ago. Longing for respectability from his peers and boxing fans, he had told reporters before this fight that he was going to represent the 'hood'- referring to the tough section of Brooklyn, Brownsville, where he, Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe grew up. He had been ignored by Bowe and Tyson throughout his career, and the inference was that he wasn't as tough as one was supposed to be from that neighborhood. After this gutty showing, maybe they'll notice this polite, sensitive warrior after all.

For Lewis, he obviously showed his power and skill that has made him such a feared fighter. His hope was to make a statement-which he seemed to do- to the boxing public and to the powers that be, that a match with WBA champion Evander Holyfield is worth the multi-million dollars he is seeking. He did not come close to filling all of the seats in Convention Hall, and whether the often criticized champion gained more respectability and recognition from this fight is questionable.

The crowd, after seeing him stumble against the ropes in the first round, clearly was on Briggs' side, and the sight of seeing him hurt by Briggs once again raises questions about his chin. He threw some pretty combinations, but hardly threw any body punches; yet the power in his punches was clearly evident all night. His defense is suspect, as evidenced by Briggs' landing of 48%of his punches. But, then again, maybe all of these observations will help fuel the fire and raise Holyfield's hopes for the bout we all want to see. One thing , for sure, is that we'll all be talking about the many possible scenarios and pondering what the outcome would be if Lewis-Holyfield ever takes place. For now, fight fans, let's not get too excited because all we have to look forward to is Holyfield-Akinwande and Lewis-Mavrovic.

Lewis-Briggs Report

by knucklejunction

Like, I am sure, a lot of fans, I am frustrated that Lennox Lewis is not fighting Evander Holyfield. I don't know if that fight will ever happen, or if it will happen as a senior division fight in 10 years. The bottom line is that boxing fans are being made to wait again for the most competitive fight, a true championship fight, in the heavyweight division. What is happening is that in a two (or more) part prelude to Holyfield-Lewis, we are treated to two fights that will be frustrating to the hardcore boxing fan. I refer to the Lewis-Briggs fight, and the announced Holyfield-Akinwande fight. This second fight is the single best argument that I can provide for the abolition of the alphabet soup organizations. Akinwande's reward for hugging Lennox Lewis to the point of disqualification is a second consecutive heavyweight title fight! I think that most boxing fans would agree with me that we follow the sport to see the competition, and we do not plunk down our hard earned money to provide a glitzy dating service for Henry Akinwande. Commander Evander look out! Henry wants to join you on the love boat! In fact Evander, here's a piece of unsolicited advice that's worth every penny you paid for it- If you hear any Barry White song accompanying Akinwande on his ring march, be afraid, be very afraid, and do not leave your dressing room!

I must also point out, that Huggin' Henry's disqualification versus Lewis came just after the Nevada legislature changed the law to allow a fighter's entire purse to be forfeited if a fighter were disqualified for egregious behavior. (You will recall that this change was prompted by another Holyfield opponent whose initials are Mike Tyson.) Unfortunately, the penalty was not applied to Akinwande, and according to boxing logic, he is now rewarded with a big payday for a first date with Holyfield.

Back to tonight's fight. The above was written before the fight between Lennox Lewis and Shannon Briggs, and you may detect low expectations in those words. Happily the fight delivered much more excitement than expected, as Briggs came to display the aggression he has shown in some of his early knockouts. Lewis started the fight with aggression, throwing punches that would end the fight if his opponent could offer no more resistance that did Andrew Golota. (Sidenote-Golota has been blaming a shot in his knee for freezing his brain. His problem was not the shot he took, it was the shot he didn't take. It's the pharmacology, stupid!) Briggs was showing movement and slipping punches-not giving Lewis the chance to dig in and fire away. With about 30 seconds left in the first, Lewis threw an overhand right, and Briggs countered with a sharp left hook that appeared to stun Lewis, and with a little push from Briggs, Lewis did a drunken backpedal and would have fallen but for the ropes. Briggs smelled blood, and unleashed about 20 hard punches, one of which was a hard right to the top of Lewis' head, further disrupting his equilibrium and he lurched for the corner. Briggs gave chase and continued punching until the bell. The crowd roared its approval that, yes, we now had a fight on our hands.

For Round two, Briggs came out quickly and aggressively, pumped up from his late first round success. In the second Minute, Briggs began a dangerous habit, one which has been all too common in Lewis KO victims. He leaned to his right exposing the left side of his face. Lewis obliged him by throwing the type of huge right that will end most fights. Briggs, to his credit, took the punch, and shook it off, mugging for the crowd and HBO announcers. Briggs then landed a leaping, sizzling left hook, hurting Lewis again, and raising the hopes of all his fans. George Foreman noted that Briggs needed to "Win, hit and move out of the way" Good advice, but could Briggs follow it? Lewis began a comeback and was connecting solidly at the end of the round.

After two rounds, HBO Punchstat Number showed 36/79 punches landed for Lewis (46%) and 41/70 (59%) for Briggs.

In round three, Briggs, whether through fatigue, over confidence or bad tactics, began again to lean to his right with the predictable result of catching a hard right from Lewis. He still showed grit, however, and continued for fire back, giving the fans their money's worth.

By the start of the fourth, both fighters were connecting at a higher percentage than they had in their previous fights, which means defense was in short supply and implying that the bigger puncher (guess who) would carry the day. Lewis began the fourth by sporting a vicious left hook. He followed with the right hand that Briggs had been expecting and nearly dropped him. A couple more left right combinations were all that were needed and then Briggs did hit the canvas for the first time in the fight. Briggs would lean and catch (with his face), lean and catch. This pattern began to tire Lewis out, and Briggs mounted an attack with two hard hooks. Lewis wasn't that tired, however, and with a right hand lead and a quick left right, Briggs was down again. He rose again, and finished the round on steady legs. Punchstat numbers showed 52/74 for 70% for Lewis and 13/38 for 34% for Briggs.

Between rounds, Emmanuel Steward noted that "Right hand leads are working good." Lewis started with a vicious left hook. He followed with the hard right, and then worked the body before coming back with punishing jabs and more rights. Shannon was catching too much and a Lewis floored him, leaving him spread eagled on the canvas, and by all appearances, finished. Briggs scrambled up, apparently clear headed and fought back. Lewis continued the clubbing, however, and when Briggs missed a helicopter left hook, and landed on his face, referee Frank Cappuccino took that as a sign that Briggs had had enough and he waved the fight off at 1:45 of the fifth. At the time of the stoppage, Judge Hongtongkan had it 39-35, judge O'Connor had it 39-35, and judge Stewart had it 38-36, all in favor of the champion Lennox Lewis.

Briggs said he had no excuses, but then blamed personal problems, by which he meant that he was upset by the media criticism of his "victory" over George Foreman. Face it Shannon, you lost that fight. But, you are a talented fighter, fast and strong, with heart and good movement (when you choose it) and you can take a good punch. Now show us that you can avoid one. You are still young, only 26, and I could foresee the opposite result in this fight in a rematch in two years, when Lennox will be 34, especially if he comes in at an admitted 80%.

Final thoughts: On the undercard, Chris Byrd defeated Derrick Amos by 6th round TKO. Byrd can box, and he has stamina and smarts. I would like to see him against Lewis next, if we must be forced to wait even longer for Lewis-Holyfield. I think Holyfield is holding on for one more bite, er fight with Tyson, and won't ever get to Lewis. I suppose now we must hope he knocks out Henry "Let's wrap" the "Anaconda" Akinwande.


by DscribeDC

Lennox Lewis vs. Shannon Briggs
Home Box Office
March 28, 1998 Get up, stand up.
Stand up for your rights.
Get up, stand up
Don't give up the fight...
--Bob Marley, "Get Up, Stand Up"

Yep, it was a fight we all anticipated with plenty of "dread," but these two stalwart "wailers" turned it into something a whole lot more than we expected, probably the most thrillingly pure heavyweight slugfest since Moorer-Cooper. Let me reggae-le you with the story:

It had all the makings of another in boxing's endless conga line of alphabet-soup farces: an underachieving champion often accused of slacking against weak opposition; a prospect-turned-pariah widely derided in the press as a p.r. confection who couldn't fight a lick; a manager that allegedly boasted of being connected with Jersey judges; a state in which one fighter had just received an absurd gift decision. Outrage was in the air. Many of us expected to see a lopsided steamrolling by the British champ, or, in the alternate scenario, a distance fight marred by another Hazzard-ous ringside verdict. Either way, masochists that we are, we rehearsed our outrage for the inevitable conclusion.

What a shock to find not merely a clean fight between two game professionals, but an exemplary one, a back-and-forth struggle that had all the big punching and see-saw Hagler-Hearns dynamics of a classic war. Yes, I had polished up enough funny Briggs jokes for a full-length piece (could this be the first hair-whipping disqualification? should it have been refereed by Indiana Jones?), but only politics can make a sage a fool in such a tiny eyeblink, and now I am fully prepared to admit that I was wrong about the flame-braided fighter from Brownsville. Tonight, Shannon Briggs showed up for work and gave Lennox Lewis hell. There was no quit in him, and precious little rest.

Pre-fight, Lennox Lewis stared down his opponent with cold, dead Terminator eyes, and a quick KO seemed to be in the offing, particularly when the WBC champ charged at the challenger and unleashed deadly shots, looking to put Briggs in the Pole position in which he had earlier left a hapless sack of oats named Golota. But once Lewis' initial offensive died down, the round settled into a tactical battle of jabs until a sneak, pushing left by Briggs caught Lewis off balance and sent him careening across the ring with the Brownsville battler in hot pursuit. Briggs also managed to throw a similar shot at the 2:00 mark of round 2 (a round I think Lewis won), demonstrating that the power that had laid low so many four-round tomato cans was still to be reckoned with. The third belonged to Lewis, who opened up decisively in the fourth frame, knocking down Briggs twice in a wild affair that also saw a desperate Briggs briefly strip Lewis of his senses. In the final round, Lewis launched a fearsome right to the ear which deposited Shannon on the canvas like a freshly-felled redwood. To his eternal credit, Briggs did the nearly impossible, scrambling to his feet, a la Paul Newman in "Cool Hand Luke," and bravely absorbing more hard blows before being rescued by Frank Cappucino's benevolent stoppage.

Contrary to all expectations, everyone comes out of this mill looking good. Briggs, dubbed "the fighting dust mop" by the New York media, showed his mettle by nearly mopping the floor with Lennox Lewis. Although his fight against Foreman was notably passive, there was no mistaking his guts tonight, as he took the play to Lewis and rose from blows that would have sent ordinary men into the deep freeze. Lewis, who has had virtually no opposition in his last three fights, resisted the advances of a game challenger, weathered adversity, and finished his opponent in a remarkably measured and patient display of power punching. Lewis can quite credibly argue that he stepped in with a strong, game fighter, while Evander "Show Me The Money" Holyfield earns money-for-nothing against Henry Akinwande, a guy who would rather rhumba than rumble. It's looking more and more like the world is ducking Lennox Lewis. And New Jersey, well, New Jersey managed to steer clear of a couple of guys named Claxton and Layton, who, right about now, I figure, should be interviewing to judge the talent segment of Maryland's Miss Nicotina beauty pagaent. Everybody's stock goes up, although we'll have to wait until Monday to see if that can be said for the public corporation that owns Briggs' contract. Wall Street is less forgiving than your average boxing writer.

Enough is enough. Lennox Lewis has done all he can with the few heavyweights game enough to fight him. His travails in the ring (a bawling Jimmy Piersall scene; an Arthur Murray dance recital; a shaky Great White Hope who had to be brought to the ring by the cops) can not be blamed on him. Nor can the refusal of the division's "best" fighters, notably Tyson, Bowe and Holyfield, to step between the ropes with him. Tyson, who has shown not much at all since returning from incarceration, has gone from Baddest Man on the Planet to Saddest Man on the Planet, humiliating himself as a wrestling heavy and floundering in a management conflict of potentially-disastrous proportions. Holyfield has shown that his professed desire to unify the title was an empty promise. His fight with Tyson (if, in light of current litigtion, it gets made at all) will be a disappointment and will do nothing for the status of either man. If there's justice left in the sport, Evander will give a shot to the only deserving contender.

Let's hope Michael Grant grows up real fast and can clean up this mess while there is still a sport to save. For now, Lennox Lewis is stuck sitting in Babylon while the promoters and lawyers...well, babble on.


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