|Briggs refuses Calzaghe offer
INTERVIEW By Anthony Cocks, (May 30, 2006)
Light heavyweight contender Paul ‘Hurricane’ Briggs, 24-2 (18), has refused an offer to fight reigning super middleweight kingpin Joe Calzaghe at 168 pounds.
Paul 'Hurricane' Briggs
Instead, the 30-year-old Australian wrecking machine has issued his own challenge to Calzaghe: move up to my division if you want to fight me.
“I just got a call from Joe Calzaghe’s people actually,” revealed Briggs recently. “They offered me a fight with him but I’m not interested in going down to super middleweight.
“I haven’t fought there in ten years. If I’m going to fight Joe Calzaghe, he can come up to light heavyweight to fight me.”
Calzaghe, 41-0 (31), who has made a record eighteen title defences and recently repelled the challenge of highly regarded American Jeff Lacy with frightening ease, has spoken of moving up in weight for years.
In light of this fact, Briggs says that he finds it amusing that the 33-year-old Welshman now expects him to move down a division.
“This sort of thing is funny,” said a bemused Briggs. “He talks about moving up but why ring a light heavyweight and ask him to come down in weight? With all the super middleweights in the world, why are they ringing a light heavyweight and asking him to come down to super middle? It just baffles me.
“If it’s so he can say he’s beaten a light heavyweight, it just doesn’t make sense because I’d be fighting at a weight that I haven’t been at in ten years. And I honestly don’t know if I could make that weight.”
Since losing a majority decision to undefeated Pole Tomasz Adamek, 30-0 (21), for the vacant WBC light heavyweight title in May last year, Briggs has seen his career stall once again despite the WBC maintaining Briggs’s position as the mandatory contender on the strength of his performance in that fight.
Briggs has fought just once since then on the undercard of Adamek’s title defence against Thomas Ulrich in October last year, scoring a 5th round TKO of American journeyman Etienne Whitaker. Briggs will have another tune-up against Argentinean Jose Alberto Clavero on an Ace Boxing promotion in Brisbane on June 16th.
There appears to be some reluctance on Adamek’s part to step into the ring again with Briggs, despite the WBC mandating the rematch.
“Adamek is talking about facing Glen Johnson on the 5th of August, saying that Showtime wants it,” explained Briggs. “Showtime are interested in the rematch between Adamek and myself, but if they can get Johnson of course they’ll take it. But I don’t think it will happen because Johnson’s promoters aren’t going to mess with King and Adamek is in litigation with King.
“It just shits me because Adamek is calling out every guy on the planet but he’s got a rematch with me lined up. It’s a payday and if he’s as confident as he says he is, he should just take the fight. If I were the champion I would take another defence if I felt confident in beating the opponent. I’d take the fight and then go attack the world.”
With the WBC supporting Briggs’s cause, it looks likely that Adamek will be stripped of his strap if he refuses to fight Briggs before the end of August.
On paper it might look like a win-win situation for Briggs, but the Sydney-based Queenslander insists he wants his revenge against Adamek before fighting anyone else.
“That situation would also shit me because I want Adamek,” said Briggs. “I want that fight but if I have to get the title and use it as bait to get him back in the ring, then that’s what I have to do.”
Briggs signed a contract to fight Adamek in October last year, but the undefeated Pole is yet to add his signature to the bottom of the page.
“It speaks volumes about his intentions,” said Briggs. “He’s been calling out everyone and whinging that he hasn’t got a fight, but I’ve been here all this time just waiting.”
While the most significant fight on the light heavyweight horizon remains the June 10th bout between former longtime middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins and consensus light heavyweight king Antonio Tarver, Briggs is less than impressed by the match-up.
"How can you possibly call out a 41-year-old fighter who was good in his day... but he's 41-years-old!” railed Briggs. “He just proved in his last two fights that Bernard Hopkins is DONE. And now Tarver wants to fight Bernard Hopkins at light heavyweight and the guy's a middleweight? It's just laughable, it really is.
"It's going to be like watching two old men, exactly like watching him and Roy for the third time boring!"
"So as soon as I get Adamek in the ring and belt him, I just want to bring it on with the rest of 'em.”
Since splitting with former trainer Jack Mosley in the wake of the Adamek loss and relocating back to Australia, Briggs has settled into a groove with new trainer Johnny Lewis.
Lewis, who trained Jeff Fenech, Jeff Harding, Kostya Tszyu and American Virgil Hill to world titles, has been focusing on developing Briggs into a more well-rounded fighter.
It was a move that Briggs believe was long overdue.
”It’s the best move I could’ve made,” enthused Briggs. “Jack Mosley was a good trainer, just not right for me. And every trainer I’ve had has tried to work on my assets. I’ve always had good power but I really need to work on my boxing skills and punch production, just getting my workrate right up.
“And Johnny and I have been doing on that, so he’s really changed the thinking behind my punching.”
With Lewis in his corner and a world title shot just around the corner, the future for Briggs looks bright.
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