As an avid boxing fan since the age of 10 years old, I can look back at maybe four fighters who molded my boxing fandom, kept me interested in the sport to this day, and still put a smile on my face when I heard their name.
The first is Mike Tyson. I saw my first Tyson fight at my Uncle Jerry’s alongside my dad, some neighbors, and random cousins who would rather play board games than watch the sweet science. My Uncle Jerry introduced me to boxing, and I still have the bag gloves he gave me 18 years ago hanging in my garage. While the old men were putting back Budweisers and three-finger glasses of Crown Royal, I was fixated on the television watching Iron Mike Tyson do unthinkable things to his opponents. A boxing fan was born.
When Saturday nights at my uncle’s house were over, I was forced to seek out boxing on my own. With no Internet (wow that hurts to type), limited cable, and major fights only once every few months, what would I do? Thank the heavens for USA Network Tuesday Night Fights. When Tuesdays came around, I was the perfect child. I was finishing my homework early, brushing my teeth and doing my chores like I was getting paid for it.
It was time for my first-ever Tuesday Night Fights. As I watched the telecast, I remember seeing this massive human being with the craziest hair I have ever seen walking to the ring with bad intentions. He looked fake. Almost like a comic book character with bulging muscles, a massive frame and multi-colored dreadlocks that would swing in the air when he threw a punch. At times it was as if his fists were throwing combinations from his chin while his dreadlocks swung wildly at his opponents. It was like boxing an octopus for God’s sake. His name? Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs.
I remember that the fight didn’t last long. Quite honestly, I don’t recall who the guy was laying on the canvas nearly unconscious. The only thing that mattered to me was that Shannon Briggs was now my favorite fighter.
I have always been the kind of guy who goes for the underdog. Or the lesser-known fighter or athlete. When kids my age were buying Michael Jordan jerseys, I was busy rooting for Dominque Wilkins and Clyde Drexler – both guys that Jordan owned. But for me, it was about discovering someone original. Someone who fought whenever he was called on, not just for money, but because he enjoyed it. That was Shannon Briggs.
Even though Briggs held the Lineal championship, if you were to ask a novice boxing fan about Shannon Briggs, more times than not the person wouldn’t be familiar with him. He fought in a time when Tyson was on the decline, the Klitschko’s were just coming up, and the heavyweight division didn’t have the star power it used to.
After going off to college, I veered away from boxing for about a year. I don’t recall why, but I do remember sitting in my house with my roommates drinking beers and flipping through the channels one night when my friend stopped on ESPN for some boxing. Sure enough, guess who appeared? The Cannon. And he looked the same as the time I saw him ten years earlier. Goosebumps. The fight ended before the start of the sixth round. Boxing was back for me. And all because of The Cannon.
The years progressed, careers happened and families were formed. And still my love for boxing was at the forefront of my sports consumption. While trolling Twitter one day nearly six weeks ago, I was searching out anything that could steer me away from the regular duties of the corporate death march that is my job. And what do you know. A video appears on my timeline that reads – “Briggs disrupts Klitschko press conference.”
No way. Not possible. Not even in a movie script could this be true. I watched the video immediately and there he was. My favorite fighter from 20 years ago, Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs screaming at the current heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko from the crowd. Sporting an amazing physique, but without the signature dreadlocks, Briggs called for a shot at the champion. And even though I had not seen a Briggs fight in years, I was adamantly convincing myself that this is the best idea I have ever heard.
While the boxing media and Twitter experts called Briggs crazy, delusional and out-of-line, I had watched the video about 20 more times and started to think back to the memorable nights of watching The Cannon pulverize his opponents and then going to my basement and lacing up the gloves to imitate his every move from the fight.
With the recent tirade at the Klitschko press conference I could only wonder – when is Briggs fighting again? Is he training? Is this possible? How could I have missed this?
This past Saturday at 42 years of age, Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs, used 23 seconds of round one in a fight against journeyman Matthew Greer at the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in Chester, West Virginia to seal his third victory in just over a month. That’s right – 23 seconds. You can’t even put on a pair of tennis shoes and tie them in 23 seconds!
While it is very unlikely that Briggs would get a shot at Klitschko, it is possible for Briggs to make a case for himself if he continues to win in exciting fashion. His best bet would be to seek out the WBC title, which is currently held by Bermane Stiverne, as the other three belts are currently held by . . .Wladimir Klitschko. Not only will the route to the WBC be tough, as either Bermane Stiverne or mandatory, undefeated American champion Deontay Wilder will hold the belt after their bout later this summer, but Klitschko himself is aiming for the WBC title. And if Klitschko gets wins the WBC belt the dream of another title shot is all but over for Briggs. But let’s cross that bridge when we get there.
Whether Briggs gets a legit title shot or not is up for discussion. For me, as a boxing fan and someone who lived through Briggs best days, I am just happy that he is doing what he knows how to do best. Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs is not going away. And for that I am grateful.