I noted last week that Shannon Briggs appeared far too willing to comment on his asthma, one press release flippantly using the steroid ingredient of his medication to snatch attention for this life-long affliction, and he frequently referenced the pneumonia that preceded the March postponement of this fight. For a fighter with a history of poor stamina and huge muscular bulk, it didn’t seem a healthy recipe.The fight played out with Briggs lack of zest and stamina very much an underlying theme, true Ibragimov is something of a sleeper in the division – his Olympic silver medal testament to his ability – but Briggs offered little of meaning in the bout. I think he knew a defeat was booked before he climbed between the ropes but at $1.8million fee – that was a L worth taking.
Subsequently, he’s confirmed my suspicions that he wasn’t prepared due to his illness but felt compelled to take the fight for fear of legal ramifications from the promoters. A sad conclusion to Briggs fleeting reign.
Of course, this now recreates a heavyweight landscape without an American champion, despite the four major belts on offer, and in truth a legitimate contender is equally hard to spot among the herd of directionless buffalo masquerading as contenders.
In Maskaev, Ibragimov, Klitschko and Chagaev the world has four white heavyweight champions – and to think America searched for one of those for about 70 years. Now it has four, but it doesn’t really want them.
The pressure to find a new, homegrown, contender grows daily. In the meantime, they turn to UFC or fossilised former champions.