I doubt any promotional move employing themes and connections from the Rocky series is likely to surprise anyone in 2007 given the success of the latest installment and the fact it offers leverage with editors and casual fans for bored publicists and promoters. Announcing Shannon Briggs will defend his title in Moscow against Sultan Ibragimov didn’t surprise me, and though the Russian’s presumably worked hard to secure home advantage Briggs is brash and confident enough to see the upside of travelling.
The former Eastern block is a new heartland for professional boxing,economic conditions coupled with Amateur excellence ensuring a burgeoning conveyor belt of new talent that is migrating to the more affluent German, British and American markets. Fighters like Klitschko, Chagaev, Lyakhovich, Dimitrenko and Povetkin; and they’re just the leading heavyweight, all evidence of the growing depth of talent from the Soviet states.
All of which is a long way from the all-amateur scenery that enveloped the mid-eighties and substantiated the Ivan Drago character played by Dolph Lundgren in 1985, the film told of two cultures clashing and attempted to offer Drago as the future of the division. A 6 and half foot giant, a new breed of heavyweight. Rocky may have prevailed in their typically epic encounter but twenty years on the vision of a giant(s)dominating the heavyweights has become an eerily accurate premonition.
Doubtless, Briggs and Ibragimov will lean heavily on the connection with Rocky’s journey to Russia to promote their June bout; and though Briggs has never usually needed prompts to help self=promote you just know he wont resist quoting Balboa ahead of the fight.