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Briggs-Klitschko: Shannon is the most dangerous opponent Vitali has faced since Lewis

By Matt Stein: Boxing fans have been quick to criticize WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko’s (40-2, 38 KO’s) next opponent former WBO heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs (51-5-1, 45 KO’s), who Klitschko will be fighting on October 16th at the O2 World Arena, in Hamburg, Germany.

Boxing fans see the 38-year-old Briggs as just another easy win for the 39-year-old Vitali and they want to see him finally take on some of the younger talents at heavyweight like Odlanier Solis, Alexander Povetkin or Denis Boytsov. However, Briggs actually might be an improvement over the kinds of fighter that Vitali has been facing in the past two years since making a comeback and winning the WBC heavyweight against Samuel Peter. In the past two years, Klitschko has faced and beaten Peter, to win the WBC heavyweight title, Juan Carlos Gomez, Chris Arreola, Kevin Johnson and Albert Sosnowski. Briggs is probably the best opponent that Klitschko has faced since he went up against and was stopped by Lennox Lewis in the 6th round 2003.

Briggs may not be as young as those guys, but he does have one ingredient that those fighters don’t posses – power. Briggs hits a lot harder than any of them, and because of that Briggs is a fighter that can potentially be very dangerous for Vitali in the first six rounds or so before Briggs runs out of gas. Briggs is at least good enough to fight hard for six rounds before running out of gas. The thing of it is if Briggs can go all out for six hard rounds, throwing huge bombs and testing Vitali’s chin repeatedly with heavy shots, we could see Vitali break apart on us.

Stranger things have happened, and when you’ve got a fighter as fast and as powerful as Briggs, he can score a stoppage at any time. Klitschko is old, almost 40 now, and with a lot of banged up body parts. Vitali has slowed down recently, and isn’t as good at getting out of the way of shots like he used to be earlier in his career. If Vitali can’t get out of the way of Briggs’ big shots, he’s going to either be cut up around the eyes or taken out.

Vitali is going to have to stay out of the way of Briggs’ big shots until Shannon fades, unless Briggs collapses from one of Vitali’s own bombs early on. Briggs has always had a great chin, so I’m doubtful that Klitschko will be able to hit him hard enough to take Briggs out. This is fight that almost guarantees a knockout, because both fighters are going to be swinging for the fences and both of them are almost 40 now.

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