Shannon Briggs: “Mike Tyson Has Been Guaranteed a 12 Million Dollar Payday, And He Still Won’t Face Me”
Interview with Shannon Briggs
By Benny Henderson Jr. (July 19, 2004)
Heavyweight boxer Shannon Briggs has had his share of big fights and his special moments through out his career. But there is one fight Briggs has dreamed about since he was a kid growing up in Brownsville, NY. His ultimate goal in his whole career is to step in the ring with the very fighter that inspired him to lace up the gloves and fight. Shannon Briggs wants his moment in the ring with Mike Tyson. He will put his name, career and record on the line for this bout. He has even gone as far as getting the investors to guarantee Tyson a 12 million dollar payday to face him. Shannon says that he has begged and pleaded with Tyson to make this fight happen, but for some odd reason Tyson won’t do it. Briggs, 40-4-1 (34), also competes in K-1 and to date he is the only US Boxer to beat a K-1 fighter. He has also pursued an acting career and he had a part in 'Bad Boys II'. He will also have a role in an upcoming movie with Paris Hilton. All this is great to Shannon but his dream is to fight Mike Tyson and until then, his dream will not be complete. Shannon dropped by the Doghouse to talk about his career, his friends, and the possibility of a future bout with Mike Tyson.
Benny Henderson Jr.: What have you been up to lately?
Shannon Briggs: I was over there in Japan awhile doing some K-1 over there. Now I’m back home training and getting in shape I feel real good about that. I have been back and forth to LA with some commercial agents and stuff like that. And now I’m looking to do a movie with Paris Hilton.
BH: You lucky dog you.
SB: [Laughs] Yeah right.
BH: [Joking] Are you going to be on her next little video?
SB: [Laughing] No man, I got a girl, but I will be doing a movie with her.
BH: When do you plan on stepping back in the boxing ring?
SB: I’m looking to fight in September. I’ll be keeping busy all the way through August but I’ll be training the whole time and be looking to fight in September sometime.
BH: Is there any opponent already picked out to fight then?
SB: Nah man, I’m just looking to fight anybody and everybody. I’m looking to just stay busy and fight my way back into shape and back into the picture and hopefully get a title shot if not the end of this year then earlier next year.
BH: If you had a choice of whom you could fight, who would it be?
SB: Mike Tyson.
BH: You want him bad don’t you?
SB: Right. Nobody wants to fight Mike Tyson more than I do in the world. And people can say he wants to fight him just because of a payday, let them say what they want. It’s not even about that. You got to understand I got into boxing semi because of Mike Tyson. First of all we are from the same neighborhood, we grew up three blocks from each other. He’s a lot older than me but he’s from my neighborhood. Here’s a guy that I looked up to as far as saying that this guy is from my neighborhood and I can do it if he can do it. So now for me to actually make it this far, it is one thing to say that I want to be a boxer and fight George Foreman and Lennox Lewis become lineal champion of the world. And now be up there and this fight be a possibility. As I kid I watched him on television, that is one thing. But now to be able to actually say this can possibly happen is another. I have done everything in my power to make this fight happen as far as asking him, pleading with him and even coming up with the investors to put the money up for this. And this guy has still walked away from it. It has become discouraging because we have come so close many times and get the deal for him to say yes. We have negotiated the fight and been left at the altar. I’m like what does it take to get this guy in the ring with me. It’s a huge fight. You got two guys from New York and from the same neighborhood. The fight at Madison Square Garden would be a huge fight. But this guy chooses to fight guys like Danny Williams and go to Kentucky and even around the world to fight guys nobody has ever heard of before. But here is me a guy from his neighborhood who wants to fight him. I have the biggest name in boxing besides the champion. I’m the biggest non-champion name; it would be a great fight. It’s just a matter of him, I don’t want to say that he is afraid but in a sense of it. I have been told that he doesn’t want to fight a guy like me because I move. I don’t move as much as I used to, I’m 32 and 30 pounds heavier. I just bring the fight to you now. So that eliminates that excuse. He doesn’t want to fight a tough fight. He wants to fight a couple of tune-ups before he fights a guy my caliber. What do you mean you are fighting Danny Williams, a former British Champion? Maybe he sees something in Danny that he can beat Danny at or whatever. So anyway my whole thing is. I want the fight as bad as hell; I think it’s great for the economy of New York. Imagine what the fight can do as far as hotel rates and such, everything goes up. It’s a great fight for New York or New Jersey.
BH: I read in an interview that you stated if Tyson fought you he would lose his gravy train and have to go back robbing old ladies.
BH: Do you honestly believe that or are you just doing your best to piss him off and call him out?
SB: It is a piss you off thing, but hopefully he wouldn’t do that. But, I have no ill will against the guy. I don’t want to see anything bad happen to him. This guy, his whole life and story have been tragic enough. It’s really about Mike Tyson maturing right now going to be a better man, and do what he has to do in boxing as a business. I think he needs to do what he has to do, win his fights, make as much money as possible save it get out the game and walk away. I mean walk away from the spotlight altogether. Not try to be in the news, especially for stupid antics and shit like that. I just can’t see to save my own life how he can’t see this fight as a huge money fight. First if all I got the investors who came to the table with the money so the money is not a problem. His purse is guaranteed at thirteen million plus dollars. He isn’t making that much to fight Danny Williams. He was offered a month ago thirteen plus million to fight me guaranteed. I make pennies compared to this guy, I’m looking at the opportunity and maybe he sees that. People say I got to be crazy to want to fight Mike Tyson. So if you really, really want to fight Mike Tyson you must be crazy. People want to fight Mike for the money, the money is nothing I already have money. It is just what I came into the game to do was fight Mike him. I don’t want his day and my day to pass and it not happen. So you know, I’m just trying to fulfill a dream.
BH: Dude, thirteen million dollars?
SB: Yeah, thirteen plus million dollars.
BH: Dude I’d fight you for a hundred grand no offense but I’d take an ass whopping for that much. You know what I’m saying.
SB: [Laughing] You know what I’m saying then. This is Mike Tyson and I want you to quote me on this. As a child who would have ever thought that in their own mind, even myself it’s hard to believe that the day would come that Mike Tyson would be scared of Shannon Briggs.
BH: I’ll quote you on that.
SB: Please do, it is hard to believe and people say yeah right. But that has been the case; the money is there we have done everything in our power to make this happen. It is just a matter of Mike Tyson signing the deal and saying that he wants this fight. He’s sick of my shit me talking or he sees that this is a great opportunity to make money. If he needs money like they say he does, why not take the thirteen million you know what I’m saying. Can you hold on one second?
BH: Yes sir, I sure can.
SB: Benny, this is Greg Cohen my promoter. Greg this is Benny with Doghouse Boxing I want you to verify the Mike Tyson situation.
Greg Cohen: Hey Benny, we have offered Mike Tyson twelve million dollars to fight Shannon. We have tried everything in our power to land this deal and for some reason Tyson will not take it.
SB: Benny I am sorry man, I said it was thirteen million. My mistake.
BH: Not a problem man, it’s still twelve million.
Greg Cohen: This would be a great fight for the fans and the boxing world, and Tyson is guaranteed twelve million dollars so it would be good for him also.
SB: See Benny, we have tried everything to get this guy in the ring. We have beg and pleaded and everything to try to make this fight happen. Like I said he would rather fight Danny Williams and go every else in the world to fight other people. His excuse is what ever; I don’t know what it is. But I don’t know anybody else offering him twelve million dollars to fight guaranteed. Greg, I just wanted you to verify this for me thanks.
Greg Cohen: Not a problem, I’ll be here if you need anything else.
SB: So listen man, that’s what is up. We want this fight; we’ve done everything that possible to get it. I’m a gentleman man I’m not a shit talker I’m not going to say that I’m the best fighter in the world, but you know what I am me. And there is one thing I do and that is sell tickets, people come to see me fight. Whether you come to see me win or lose people come to see Shannon Briggs because they know who I am. I just did the movie 'Bad Boys II' like a year and a half ago, that movie was successful a lot of people saw me in that movie. They know me from my boxing career they know me from in and out of the ring. This is a fight that was made to happen, two guys from the same neighborhood, it’s a neighborhood fight. I try to entertain my fans. One or two things are going to happen when you seen Shannon Brigs fight, either I’m knocking you out or you’re knocking me out.
BH: One of my favorite fights was you fought was against Lennox Lewis.
SB: Yeah, it was a battle. It was back and forth until he prevailed, so hey what can I say. He’s a great champion and I’m not the only guy he beat so I don’t feel bad.
BH: What did it feel like to step in the ring with heavyweight great George Foreman?
SB: It was a great experience for me especially at that time. I was a young kid. I was brought in there to actually be knocked out by George and be a stepping-stone for him. I didn’t play my part as far as getting knocked out it was a very, very close decision. Some say George won, some say I won, but it depends on whom you are talking to though. It was a great fight and I look at the opportunity at what it did for me. It put me on the stage in front of the world; it gave me the ability to fight Lennox Lewis next. It was a great financial opportunity for me and I took advantage of it. I won whether you like it or not, I got the decision and I became linear champ of the world. If you look at the current state of boxing you look at all the belts that’s out there, nobody cares. There are a million belts out there and who’s the real champion? The champion is the man who beat the man. That is dated back to Jack Johnson to Jim Corbett. I beat the man. When George Foreman beat Michael Moorer he became the man, when Moorer beat Holyfield, Holyfield beat Riddick Bowe. You know what I’m saying I became the man who beat the man. So at that point when Lennox Lewis beat me, he became the linear champion of the world. And he is recognized for that than anything else. But people don’t like to give me my props on what I did. Ring magazine didn’t give me a belt, but when Lewis beat me they gave him a belt and had my picture on it. So that just showed me where they were prejudiced against me. Whether you thought I won or not, I became Heavyweight champ of the World. They didn’t give me a belt. I’m looking at a magazine one day and I see Lennox Lewis with the belt, and I was like damn that’s a picture of me where did that belt come from? They never presented me with a belt. But I don’t really care about the belts. If I walk down the street people know who I am. There was many times that I was in the same place as Lennox Lewis and people knew who I was but they didn’t know who he was. I don’t even look at it because the belts don’t mean anything. You pay sanctioning fees look what happened to the IBF you could even pay to fight for the title. So I don’t care about the titles, the belt is nothing. I’m the people fighter and I’m the people champion bottom line. I’m the average guy who you may see on the bus the train today. And I have a home and a few cars. But I still do the average stuff. People see my grocery shopping and people say damn aren’t you Shannon Briggs, people can’t believe it. But I’m the people fighter, so with that being said I don’t give a shit about the belts the belts don’t me nothing. They are just organizations that I pay to say that I am their champion, so forget that.
BH: How does it feel to have the fans?
SB: It is cool, but I don’t look at them as fans but as friends. I appreciate the people because without the people I would be nowhere.
BH: You had a back injury in the McCline fight?
SB: Yeah man, I was weighing 280 pounds for that fight.
BH: You went ahead and fought anyways even though you said you were at 30%. You lost that bout; do you want a rematch with him?
SB: I would love a rematch with him. I think he is moving on to fight Chris Byrd, but at the same time I hope down the line we can rematch. Right now that is where I am at, I want to fight anybody that beat me but of course Lewis is retired. But I want to knockoff anybody that beat me Darroll Wilson, Sedrick Fields and I want to take it to them.
BH: What do you think of McCline as a fighter?
SB: He’s a very nice guy I can’t say anything bad about him I like the guy. I think he a very dedicated focused guy, he does what he has to do. He is good for the sport of boxing. As far as when he fought me I think he should have done better as far as the state as I was in at that time. [Laughing] But hey, you know either how good I am or how bad he is, who knows. Hopefully one day he’ll grant me a rematch.
BH: What inspired you to box?
SB: Mike Tyson. I saw him fight on TV one time and I said if I were fighting him I would do this and do that. Now to actually there and have somebody offer to put the twelve million dollars for him to fight me, it’s a dream come true. Now the final step is (A) him beating Williams July 30th in which I will be there, (B) him accepting the guaranteed twelve million dollars to fight me, (C) hopefully New York giving him a license.
BH: What fight are you most proud of?
SB: I am proud of every fight, I am just proud to be boxing. I was born an asthmatic I was a real sick child. I never thought I would ever be in a sport, let alone be champion and recognized and known. So from my first fight to my last it is like a blessing to me. Sometimes I pinch myself and say man I am Shannon Briggs. I was homeless at one time I slept on friend's couches and trains and I look back and see how far I came come.
BH: What do you hope to accomplish in and out of the ring within the next two years?
SB: Hopefully become heavyweight champ of the world, move towards my acting career after boxing. Just enjoy life to the fullest.
BH: You still going to fight K-1?
SB: Oh yeah, I love K-1 and you can quote me on that. I am the only US boxer to win in K-1. All the other guys went over there and lost and I am the only one who won against a K-1 fighter.
BH: What advice would you give to a young fighter?
SB: Dedicate yourself, stay true to what you do as far as dedication and focused.
BH: Any last words you would like to say to the fans and the heavyweight division?
SB: To my friends, I don’t call them fans. I would like to say that I appreciate your support; I am looking to entertain and give you what you want to see. To the boxers, keep doing what you are doing and watch out because here I come.
BH: Shannon, Doghouse would like to thank you for your time and kindness we appreciate it.
SB: Not a problem, I appreciate you guys.
BH: Okay man, God Bless and be safe, later.
SB: You too man, later.
I would like to thank Vinny Lamanna for helping me get this interview with Shannon. I would also like to thank Shannon Briggs for taking out the time for Doghouse and the fans. It is greatly appreciated.
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