Former heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs (51-6-1, 45 KOs) has decided to end his retirement from boxing. Not only is Briggs returning to the ring as a fighter but as a promoter, as well. Briggs who is employed and a partner of the Florida-based online marketing powerhouse Acquinity Interactive, will debut as a promoter this coming Saturday at the Westin Diplomat Resort in Hollywood, Florida. Telefutura’s popular weekly “Solo Boxeo Tecate” boxing series will air the event.
Briggs last fought in October 2010 when he dropped a decision to WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko. Its hard enough to fight Klitschko with two good arms but to do it with one is mission impossible. This is what Briggs was faced with as he severely tore his left bicep early in the bout. Fast forward more than a year after such a grueling fight and Briggs will look to beat the odds and become heavyweight champion of the world again and an elite promoter.
Beating the odds are nothing new for Briggs if you have followed his professional boxing career which now spans three decades. In 1997 Briggs upset George Foreman to win what boxing traditionalists considered the linear world heavyweight title at that time. Then in 2006, trailing on all three judges official scorecards, Briggs stopped then WBO heavyweight champion Siarhei Liakhovich in the final round with one second remaining.
If fighting the opponent wasn’t enough to have on his plate, Briggs also had to deal with being asthmatic throughout his career, as well. Fightnews.com caught up with the always sharp-tongued Briggs as he is preparing for his first show. As is the norm with Briggs he spoke his mind and pulled no punches.
How has your recovery been from the injuries sustained in your world title challenge against Vitali Klitschko in October 2010?
First off I would like to make it clear that I didn’t suffer any broken orbital bones in my face as what was reported. That is absolutely not true. I did have some swelling in my face but that was to be expected fighting the heavyweight champion of the world with one arm. In the first round I popped the tendon in my left arm that attaches the joint and I severely tore my left bicep. It seemed like a career ending injury but I had a successful surgery and I’ve been feeling more and more confident about fighting again everyday.
Why are you coming back to boxing?
Despite all of the ill feelings I have towards the sport, I feel as though boxing has provided me with a lot of opportunities. Hopefully I can be one of the many people that change the business for the better. In some ways the sport has not evolved at all. Also from a business standpoint, my fighting and becoming heavyweight champion of the world again could bring a lot to the table in what I have planned.
Do you plan to have a few tuneup fights prior to jumping into a major fight?
Yes. I’m targeting sometime in March on a Acquinity Sports-promoted show. I’m taking my time and fighting at my own pace. I’m not looking to do anything but fight my way back into top form. From here on out I am fighting from a business standpoint. I want to end my career in a beautiful fashion and set forth my legacy in business.
What can you tell us about Acquinity Interactive?
The company is an online marketing business founded by Gary Jonas, who himself is a very successful businessman. It’s also a full service sports agency dealing in all sports such as baseball, basketball, football, etc. This is our first venture in boxing.
What are some of the immediate goals of the company in terms of boxing?
Initially we would like to have between six and eight shows per year. The main thing we want to do is establish a trend in boxing giving a fighter an opportunity to be more than just a boxer. We want fighters to have a plan for their lives after boxing. What Bernard Hopkins is doing in his 40s is truly special but that is a very, very rare case for a boxer. We want to teach fighters to be able to think for themselves and not go through a situation like what I went through after the Vitali Klitschko fight. I mean I was virtually left out to dry alone in the hospital in Germany while my “promoter” was on one of the first flights back to the U.S. the day after the fight. If that wasn’t bad enough, I agreed to fight Vitali Klitschko with the understanding that I would be paid a purse of $750,000 but wound up with a mere $25,000 after I returned to the United States after a prolonged hospital stay in Hamburg, Germany. Truth be told, til this day I don’t have a clue what the purse was. I’m still trying to figure out how Jose Sulaiman and the WBC allowed my signature to be forged and not have a grievance with Shelly Finkel or Greg D. Cohen. I thought the sanctioning bodies were for the fighters.
What ended up happening with the lawsuit that you filed against against Cohen, Finkel, and Barry Honig, and their boxing and entertainment promotional company, Empire Sports & Entertainment?
You mean the Nightmare on Wall Street? The company was dissolved, the parties involved went their separate ways soon after. You could say they are back to business as usual. As far as my part of it, it has been somewhat settled for a very small amount. I’m still asking myself how is it possible that I started and named the company with people, fight for the heavyweight championship of the world, and not be protected or paid by partners. I was left by them in Germany for 14 days and ended up getting paid pennies on the dollar for my stock and half of Austin Trout’s promotional contract. I have never even seen Trout even fight. So to answer that question, the saga continues. I guess my affiliation with Gary Jonas and Aqcuinity Sports is my way of showing them that I’m truly the African Steven Segal… Hard to Kill part 77. (laughs)
Many struggle in promoting their first show. How has it been going for you so far leading up to the event?
It hasn’t been a struggle at all to be honest with you. Just to give you an idea, we have sold more than 40 VIP tables in 72 hours. This is unheard of in boxing. Henry Rivalta, Aqcuinity’s Boxing’s promoter and VP of Boxing, has built a huge following throughout South Florida and made this event top notch. He has pulled out all the stops to make sure this will be an unforgettable fight night. This is our first time out but we are looking to make this first one a success. I have been around boxing more than half of my life. When you’re starting out in promoting you have to be smart about it. Many promoters put themselves in a deep holes before the first bell even rings. We, in turn, are already ahead in tickets sales and sponsorships alone. The other thing is who you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with broke people then what kind of product do you think you will deliver? I can assure you that this is not the case with us. Not even close. It feels so good to be working with people who don’t need to live off boxers to make a living but are already seriously wealthy and successful. On another note, I won’t mention any names but we have major well known celebrities from musical artists, professional athletes, actors/actresses, and more scheduled to appear at our event this Saturday.
Many fighters dont adjust well after fighting professionally for many years. You now wake up early mornings Monday thru Friday and go to the office like many everyday people do. How have you been able to make the switch so easily?
Money. (laughing) I’m making very good money. Aside from that it’s been quite easy for me because marketing is my passion. Even as a fighter it was my passion. My former promoter Don King said that was something that he always respected about me was my ability to market myself. You can say what you want about Don King but you can’t deny his accomplishments in boxing as they speak for themselves. For him to give me that kind of compliment is major. I can market anything. My motto is this: You can say what you want about me but just talk about me.
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Tickets for the event can be purchased by calling (305)917-5656. General admission tickets for the event are only $25 and $100 for ringside. The VIP tables are $2,500. a total of 10 bouts are scheduled and doors will open at 6:30PM.