Take one step forward, then two steps back.
This saying applies to the heavyweight division, except it never takes a step forward.
With the announcement of Vitali Klitschko vs. Shannon Briggs, the heavyweight division took yet another step backwards, or did it?
This is a flat-out terrible fraud of a heavyweight title fight.
Briggs has not had a notable win since knocking out Sergei Liakovich with one second left to win the WBO title in 2006.
Since then he has lost to Sultan Ibragimov, fought a no-contest with Marcus McGee, and knocked out Rafael Pedro, Dominique Alexander and Rob Callaway.
So Briggs has one good win since 2006 and he is the most deserving fighter to get a shot at the heavyweight title?
I would say no, but lets look at the other option.
Nikolay Valuev is the other option. Who in his right mind would want to watch that? That fight is worse then Klitschko-Briggs.
At the very least, Briggs still has a big punch and will be a threat for the first few rounds. He has also had a better overall career then Valuev and—to me at least—that means something.
The last three wins he has had have only taken him 1:26 seconds. So his punch is still there we can see.
That has been the story of his career. He has always had a huge punch, but tires after four or so rounds.
The biggest question is, does he have the style to beat the elder Klitschko? All signs would point to, not a chance.
Briggs is a huge guy at 6’4” and 266 pounds. He will have a three-inch height disadvantage, but the reach is about the same.
He doesn’t possess a great jab and that could prove costly. As everyone knows, the Klitschko jab is a weapon in itself and, to out jab Vitali, you would need an above average jab.
Briggs won’t outwork Klitschko and he will let him get into his comfort zone, which will prove deadly. The only way to beat Klitschko at this point is to press him and make him fight your fight.
Stamina, speed and power are the only issues left up for debate.
Klitschko can have stamina issues but Briggs isn’t going to push him and his stamina is about as bad as you can get. Power is the sole thing that makes this fight interesting. Klitschko obviously has good power as he has 38 knockouts in his 40 wins.
That is an astonishing 90.5 percent knockout rate. Briggs has 45 knockouts in his 51 wins, which is a very respectable 77.6 percent.
Briggs may have a lower knockout percentage, but his power is the more electrifying. He has better one-punch power that Klitschko and can hurt you with a single punch.
Klitschko on the other hand will knockout you out with a accumulation of punches.
The final factor is speed.
Neither fighter is a speed merchant, but Klitschko has the slight advantage. This may be the first time that sentence has been written. The only chance for Briggs is to catch Klitschko early and put him away. The chance is small but it is there.
So the question still remains did the heavyweight division take a step back or not?