Not wanting the 12-round pummeling he absorbed from Vitali Klitschko five years ago to be his final boxing image, Shannon Briggs has undertaken a busy, curious and successful path since the resumption of his career in early 2014.
Briggs, a Pembroke Pines resident, has fought in remote boxing outposts such as Carlton, Minn., Chester, W. Va., and Lula, Miss. The former heavyweight champion’s comeback currently is on a seven-bout win streak of six first-round knockouts and a 12-round distance-lasting decision.
And, although the opposition won’t be found on any heavyweight rankings, Briggs hopes the victory-buildup will land him another title opportunity — against another Klitschko.
On Saturday night, Briggs, 43, looks to increase his winning streak and move closer to contention. Briggs (58-6-1, 51 KOs) will face Vero Beach resident Mike Marrone (21-4, 15 KOs) in the main event of a card at Seminole Hard Rock Live Arena in Hollywood.
“The heavyweight boxing needs Shannon Briggs and boxing needs Shannon Briggs,” Briggs said before a workout Wednesday. “I’m in this hot gym every day. They [naysayers] can say what they want. I have been here for two years straight.”
Briggs’ comeback not only was fueled by an eagerness to reclaim the heavyweight title he first won in 2006 and lost after one defense. In the aftermath of the loss against Klitschko, Briggs descended into poor physical shape. The gym eventually became Briggs’ sanctuary for lifestyle reform and the rebirth of championship aspirations.
“I was fat,” said the 6-foot-4 Briggs, who admits he ballooned to 360 pounds. “I was going to [the supermarket] every day and eating fast food, fried chicken, ice cream and I was in a depression. Everybody that saw me just laughed.
“So I started changing my diet and I started working out and I started walking every day. Then I said to myself, ‘let’s go champ,’ then boom — it came to me.”
Briggs, who weighed 268 for his last fight in March, wants to follow the trail George Foreman set when he won his second heavyweight belt in his mid-40s and after a lengthy ring absence. For Briggs, the coveted target is current champion and part-time Hollywood resident Wladimir Klitschko.
In the past two years Briggs has stalked Klitschko, taunting Vitali’s brother into accepting his challenge. Klitschko has routinely laughed off Briggs’ advances.
“Klitschko didn’t want to fight me then and he doesn’t want to fight me now,” Briggs said. “But the people are going to force the fight.”
Saturday’s match headlines an all-heavyweight eight card. The show’s promoter, Heavyweight Factory, also has invited heavyweight champions of the past 30 years to the event. The guest list includes Wladimir Klitschko, Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.