by Johnny Walker
What started out as something mildly amusing is now becoming much darker than that, as ex-heavyweight champion Shannon “The Cannon” Briggs continued his stalking of current world heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko today, following him out into the Florida waters to capsize the champ while he was training for his upcoming fight with highly ranked Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev.
The last time we saw him, Briggs invaded a Florida restaurant and attempted to devour the champion’s meal, only to have Wladimir pour a glass of water over his head and see Briggs cut his foot in the ensuing scuffle. Now we see Briggs and a companion in a motorboat, pursuing Klitschko while he is paddle-boarding alone in the waters near Miami, finally knocking the champ into the drink.
While it might be tempting to see these episodes as some kind of outlandish PR ploy, that seems doubtful. In recent interviews, Klitschko has confessed his deep embarrassment at being a practitioner of a sport that includes loud-mouthed crackpots like Briggs, Dereck Chisora (who spit water in the champion’s face before being beaten by his brother, former WBC world heavyweight champ Vitali Klitschko), and Manuel Charr.
Briggs recently re-emerged onto the heavyweight scene after a prolonged absence due to the severe, life-threatening thrashing he was given by Vitali Klitschko back in 2010. That match was a bloody beatdown that left Briggs hospitalized for two weeks, and having to undergo numerous operations to repair the many injuries he sustained over 12 one-sided rounds.
Briggs would later claim he hadn’t been paid for the Klitschko fight, but lost a court case concerning the matter.
Now, the new-look Briggs, seemingly in far better physical condition and having traded his trademark braided look for a shaved head, has re-emerged with a grudge against the Klitschkos, and is going after Wladimir, with Vitali having retired from boxing to become the Mayor of his native Ukraine’s largest city, Kiev.
[On a personal note, this writer’s own encounter with Shannon Briggs in the time after the Vitali fight revealed a man who was paranoid and self-destructive, teetering on the edge of some mental precipice. So the stalking episodes seem right in character with the Briggs who emerged a very bitter man after the beat-down from Vitali Klitschko.]
Before his boxing comeback, Briggs attempted to co-launch a sports promotional outfit, Acquinity, only to eventually see Mike Tyson acquire it and rename it Iron Mike Productions.
His recent failures seem to have driven Briggs over the edge, and his stalking of Wladimir Klitschko is now approaching the realm of criminal behavior.
Wladimir Klitschko at this point seems far more likely to reward Briggs with a restraining order, rather than the payday he obviously feels he was cheated out of against Vitali.