Click here to read about No. 37 Marvin Hart
Like Marvin Hart, the man directly below him in the chart, Shannon Briggs is an oft-forgotten Heavyweight World Champion. His claim to the title was strictly lineal, relying as it did on the fact he defeated George Foreman in 1997, George having sensationally deposed Michael Moorer in '94 before gradually being stripped of all his alphabet belts while defending the title drearily against Axel Schulz, Crawford Grimsley and Lou Savarese. Briggs lost the lineal title in his first 'defence' against Lennox Lewis just over four months later.
Briggs was only really regarded as champion by a small coterie of boxing historians, and his claims weren't helped by the fact that most observers felt he didn't deserve the points verdict against Foreman. For his fight against Lewis, Briggs was introduced as the challenger for Lewis' WBC bauble, rather than the 'man who beat the man', and the HBO and Sky coverage of the fight which I've watched (one of which is embedded below) seems to make no mention of his lineal status. Despite his underdog status, Briggs gave Lewis a scare, hurting him in each of the first two rounds as well as the fourth before being halted in five. Aside from that, Briggs' greatest achievement was his big punch and ability to knock out average opponents, with an admittedly impressive 33 first-round wins.
Briggs lost the title in his first defence, and most of the times he stepped up to a higher level than usual, such as against Frans Botha, Lewis, Jameel McCline and Vitali Klitschko, he failed to register wins. His overall record, to date, of 54 (48)-6-1 looks impressive, but doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
An exciting puncher and heavy hitter, Briggs is also an engaging and entertaining character, but his defensive abilities and boxing skills never quite cut it at the highest level. He was, quite simply, too easy to hit.
Briggs showed a lot of courage in his bout with Lewis, took his licks well against Klitschko and also showed never-say-die spirit to halt Siarhei Liakhovich in the final seconds of a WBO title challenge in 2006. However, his well-publicised battles with asthma often affected his stamina.
At one point, before he was halted in three by Darroll Wilson in a big upset in 1996, Briggs was touted as the next big thing in heavyweight boxing. He never made the impact his big punching and early promise indicated he might.
Boxiana verdict: Briggs' claim to the Heavyweight Championship was slight, and he was unable to make the most of his gifts. Overall, his career has to be considered a disappointment. For the same sort of vainglorious reasons as many of his predecessors and successors, he's still fighting, and even making the odd headline with some admittedly entertaining histrionics, such as the appearance below at a Wladimir Klitschko press conference. However he seems unlikely to achieve anything in the future that might change the decision of history to file his career under 'disappointing'.
Total marks (out of 50): 22
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N.B. For the purposes of consistency, this series of articles uses the fight records found on BoxRec. I'm aware that, particularly in the era of newspaper decisions, no contests etc there are possible different interpretations / statistics quoted in different sources. Any queries, check BoxRec and then contact me if you have a further query.
Luke G. Williams