I recently had a chance to speak with the last American heavyweight champion, Shannon ‘The Cannon’ Briggs. Shannon is currently making a comeback to the sport after being away for almost 4 years. A number of topics were discussed in this interview, including Briggs’ public altercations with reigning IBO/WBO/IBF/WBA heavyweight champ, Wladimir Klitschko. ‘The Cannon’ also gives his thoughts on the current landscape of the heavyweight division, and talks about knockout artist, Deontay Wilder. Here is what Shannon Briggs had to say.
Robert Brown: The first question I want to ask is, why the comeback?
Shannon Briggs: I just feel great, I’m in phenomenal shape. It was time, I had some time off, I feel phenomenal. Looking at the landscape of the heavyweight division, I felt it was time for me to get in shape. I feel good at it, I took some years off and I held a nice job, I was making 150k a year but I was bored. This is what I was born to do, so I’m back and I’m having fun doing what I love to do.
Robert Brown: How do you feel about the current depth of the heavyweight division? There’s Stiverne, Arreola, Fury, Chisora, do you think you can beat those guys?
Shannon Briggs: Yeah they’re average at the best, those guys are all average at the best. In the 90’s there were guys like Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, some real big boys. I see some of the heavyweights these days today and I’m not impressed. These guys today are basically just average to be honest with you.
Robert Brown: Are you impressed with Deontay Wilder and all his knockouts?
Shannon Briggs: No, you can clearly go to Youtube and look at his choice of opponents and what he’s built his record upon. I think he’ll even tell you that. He fought the guys he was supposed to fight, he has a phenomenal record, we’re talking about him right now.
He stepped in the big class when he knocked out Siarhei Liakhovich — who is on the tail end of his career — but for the most part he hasn’t fought anybody. We all know the Malik Scott fight was a joke. We gotta see what he’s got, we gotta see what he’s like.
There’s rumors that he doesn’t have a great chin, but that’s yet to be seen. To be honest with you, I’m impressed with his record, I’m impressed with his physique of course, the fact that he’s in great shape as a heavyweight. I wanna see what he has, I’m looking forward to seeing him in action.
Robert Brown: How do you think Wilder’s power compares to yours? Do you think you have more power than him?
Shannon Briggs: Yeah I think so, but we’d have to hit each other to find out. My goal would be not to let him hit me but to do the hitting. Like I said, I’m impressed with Wilder’s record, I’m impressed with his physique, he’s a big tall guy.
We gotta see what’s gonna happen when he’s in the mix with somebody who’s hitting back. We don’t have a bunch of heavyweights right now that can press these guys, and that’s the reason why I came back.
Robert Brown: You had an incident with Wladimir Klitschko where you threw a shoe at him. Do you feel genuine animosity towards Klitschko or is this just to try to get the fight against him?
Shannon Briggs: It’s both. First, legitimately I don’t like him, there’s bad blood based on what happened in the Vitali Klitschko fight, in which in the first round I tore my bicep and my left tendon popped in my left arm. I fought that fight for 12 rounds with one arm. Not only that, I wasn’t paid after the fight — I had to sue for my purse, which still to this day hasn’t all been resolved.
So yeah there’s bad blood between me and anybody with the last name Klitschko. If your name is Klitschko, I don’t like you. That’s how it is. On another note, the heavyweight division is wack, I’m not impressed, that’s another reason why I came back. But it’s truly genuine animosity, it wasn’t only that — I respect them as champions but at the same time, the Klitschko family, I felt was part of something that hurt me.
I walked away from boxing for 3-4 years hurt, because the boxing community, no one cared. No that I need to be babied or nothing like that, but at the same time, here I was the last American heavyweight champion not paid in my last fight.
To answer your question, yes there’s genuine animosity. I’m pissed and these guys today are bums on top of that, that’s the reason why I came back. I wanna kick his ass, if the people follow it and they like it, hey that’s their business. I want to kick his ass cause I feel like I’m better than him. I was at his last fight against Leapai — Leapai is a bum, he’s nothing, come on man.
Robert Brown: Alex Leapai has been making noise saying he’d like to fight you. Would you be happy to fight him?
Shannon Briggs: Yes, tonight. I’ll kick his ass, kick his little fat ass. Let me tell you why, Wladimir is always fighting bums, that’s just a fact. I’m gonna show you what you’re supposed to do with a bum. It’s okay to fight bums, but let me show you what you’re supposed to do with them. They don’t hang around for five rounds, they get out of there in less than 60 seconds, that’s how you do with a guy like Leapai.
With all that being said, I tried to make the fight — I talked to his management, I talked to everybody, I tried to make the fight — they don’t want to fight me. Nobody wants to fight me. They want to talk about me being old, but the truth of the matter is, they don’t want to fight me. I’m glad because I don’t want to fight them either, I wanna fight Wladimir Klitschko, that’s who I’m going after.
The rest of these guys, they ain’t nothing, I’ve already been there and done that. I already did that, I was heavyweight champion in 1997 when I defeated and retired George Foreman. Again in 2007, when I knocked out Siarhei Liakhovich in the 12th round, with one second left on the clock. I’m not going backwards.
Robert Brown: If you had an opportunity to fight the winner of Stiverne-Wilder for their belt before you fought Klitschko, would you take an opportunity like that?
Shannon Briggs: Yeah I would, but Don King would never put that boy in the ring with me, Stiverne. He wouldn’t do nothing like that because the last time he did that, I knocked out Siarhei Liakhovich, I knocked out his fighter. Don King will never try that again, he tried that, he put me in as an opponent against Liakhovich and that ended badly.
Maybe he believes Stiverne can get past Wilder if they fight. I’m really after Wladimir to be honest with you, I’m after Wladimir. I want to fry this turkey, he’s a big turkey. Every time I see him, I see a big turkey.
Robert Brown: You said Wladimir Klitschko is afraid of you and won’t fight you. Do you believe he is afraid of you?
Shannon Briggs: Yes, he’s been afraid of me since he turned pro. He’s known me, he’s a fan of mine. We’ve tried to make the fight many times and he’s been heard saying that I make him nervous. This guy, Emanuel Steward, would do nothing but keep him away from me. Now that he’s trained by Johnathon Banks, Johnathon may have some more courage than Emanuel had, rest in peace, as far as putting him in the ring with me.
Come on man lets be honest, I fought his brother with one arm for 12 round and he couldn’t knock me out, he couldn’t knock me down, so what does that mean? Come on you guys gotta stop, do what you gotta do. Know one thing, Wladimir Klitschko is scared of Shannon Briggs, and Wladimir Klitschko knows that Shannon Briggs will knock him out.
Robert Brown: You were injured against Vitali, is that part of the reason why you came back, to try to get a shot at the title with you being fully healthy?
Shannon Briggs: One hundred percent, I could not lay my career knowing that I had ended on a losing note on a fight I know I could have won. I know I could have won, and I wasn’t even in half the shape I’m in now. I’m in better shape than I was when I was 20 years old. The world is gonna be surprised.
Robert Brown: You’re staying active and you’re taking the right steps to come back to the top. When are you planning on returning to the ring and how can fans follow you?
Shannon Briggs: That’s right, let’s go, I’m ready. I’m fighting June 28th, I’ll be back in action. I’m looking forward to it, I’m staying busy. I’m on Twitter and I’m on Instagram, Cannon_Briggs. I’m having fun, I’m fighting bi-weekly and I’m knocking guys out. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do.