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Shannon Briggs tests positive, fight with Oquendo to be called off?

Fres Oquendo Shannon Briggs

By Jim Dower: In bad news for former WBO heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs’ career, he allegedly has tested positive for increased testosterone levels, according to Dan Rafael. The positive test means that the 45-year-old Briggs’ scheduled June 3rd fight against 44-year-old Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs) will be called off. Briggs and Oquendo were supposed to be fighting for the vacant WBA World heavyweight title. Briggs’ drug test by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association on May 14 tested high for testosterone, according to Dan Rafael.

Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs) can have his B-sample tested by VADA to see if that will show a different result. Whether Briggs will elect to have the second test is unknown. There’s a chance that the B-sample will clear Briggs if he elects to have it tested. According to Fight News, Briggs had almost double the allowable testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio. It would be a pity to see Briggs lose out on his chance to win another heavyweight world title. If Briggs has to wait another 3 years to get in position to fight for a world title, he might be too old by then. Briggs will be 48 in three years. Fighting Oquendo would have been perfect for Briggs to have an even chance to win a world title, and then possibly fight Anthony Joshua.

This WBA title is turning out to be bad luck, as the previous title holder Lucas Browne also tested positive for a banned drug last year. Anthony Joshua is the WBA ‘Super’ World heavyweight champion. The winner of the Briggs-Oquendo fight would have been the WBA ‘World” heavyweight champion, which is sometimes referred to as the WBA ‘Regular’ heavyweight champion. It’s very confusing and sad as well to have more than heavyweight champion within the same sanctioning body.

The Briggs vs. Oquendo fight was scheduled to be taking place next month on June 3 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Unless something can keep the Briggs-Oqunedo fight taking place, it would have been a fight between two heavyweights with a combined age of 89-years-old. It would also would have been odd for 2 heavyweights to be fighting for a world title given their inactivity. Oquendo hasn’ fought since 2014. Briggs hasn’t seen action since May 21, 2016. It’s been exactly 1 year since Briggs last fought.

According to Dan Rafael, there wasn’t a television deal for the Briggs vs. Oquendo fight despite the bout being only 2 weeks away. That alone would have possibly causes the Briggs-Oquendo fight not to take place. But with Briggs reported elevated testosterone levels, the fight is expected to be called off.

Oquendo lost his last fight to Ruslan Chagaev by a 12 round decision in 2014. Oquendo had shoulder surgery in 2015, and he’s been out of action ever since. It’s interesting that Oquendo wasn’t going to be taking a tune-up fight before he fought for the WBA ‘regular’ heavyweight title against Briggs. With Briggs now out of the picture, it will be interesting to see what Oquendo does. Will he wait around for the WBA to pick out another heavyweight contender for him to fight for the vacant WBA World title or will he take a tune-up fight. At 44, is it safe for Oquendo to take a tune-up? Will he lose to a journeyman level fighter at this point?

It’s been a long journey for Briggs in trying to get a big fight since making his comeback to boxing in 2014. Briggs had tried in vain to get a big fight against David Haye. Briggs even fought on Haye’s undercard last year in May hoping that it would lead to him getting a fight against Haye. The fight never took place, and Briggs hasn’t fought since then. The World Boxing Association was still going to let Briggs fight for their WBA title despite his inactivity and his lack of wins over quality opposition since his comeback. Briggs has won all 9 of his fights since returning to the ring in 2014, but his opposition has been woeful. Briggs hasn’t fought any quality opponents. It’s been obscure journeyman level opposition for the most part.

Rafael said this to this about Briggs’ elevated testosterone levels:

“Dr. Margaret Goodman, president of the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which was overseeing drug testing for the bout as part of the WBA’s Fair Boxing Program, sent those involved a letter disclosing that Briggs’ urine sample collected in Hollywood, Florida, on May 14 — and analyzed on May 16 at the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in Los Angeles — had come back with elevated levels of testosterone.”

This would have been a fun fight between Briggs and Oquendo. With two guys this old, it would have been intriguing to see how long it would have gone before the first one gassed out and was knocked out. As of last year, Briggs still looked to be a formidable puncher. The shots that he hit the over-matched journeyman Emilio Ezequiel Zarate with were unmistakably very powerful punches. However, it was one-way traffic in that fight with Briggs dishing out all the punishment. We never got to find out how well Briggs can take a shot because he wasn’t hit back that much. That’s the same thing we can say about all 9 of Briggs’ comeback fights. He was the one dishing out the punishment.

It’s been a long time since Briggs fought a good heavyweight. We know that Briggs lost badly to WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2010. That was a fight in which Briggs took awful punishment for 12 rounds in a fight that probably should have been stopped well short of the 12th due to it being so one-sided. Briggs’ last win over a quality heavyweight was 11 years ago in his 12th round knockout win over Sergey Liakhovich. That was a fight in which Briggs was trailing at the time that he knocked Liakhovich out in the 12th.

Briggs was down on the scorecards by the scores 106-103, 106-103 and 105-104. It was a miracle win for Briggs, but his reign as the WBO champion lasted just one fight. In Briggs;’ first defense of his WBO title, he was soundly beaten by Sultan Ibragimov by a 12 round unanimous decision. Ibragimov didn’t hold onto the WBO title for long either, as he successfully defended it once against a past his prime Evander Holyfield in October 2007 before losing the title to Wladimir Klitschko in February 2008 in getting beaten by a 12 round unanimous decision. Ibragimov then retired from boxing.

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