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Shannon Briggs fails drug test: End of the road?

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Per ESPN.com, well-muscled former heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs, 1 NC) failed a performance-enhancement drug (PED) test that may jeopardize his June 3 'WBA regular' heavyweight title fight with Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs).

Alleged results from a random urine test found unusually high levels of testosterone in the 45-year-old.

So what does this mean?

Briggs vs Oquendo is likely off. And even if Oquendo decides to proceed with the fight, a title may not be at-stake.

After a 3 1/2 year hiatus, Shannon Briggs returned to boxing in February 2014, looking gritty so say the least. Some insisted he looked a little too muscular for a 42-year-old but, in reality, he appeared quite the physical specimen for a man of any age.

But Briggs not only showcased a new, sculpted physique on his comeback, he tacked on newfound charisma, bravado and a lot of personality. A la George Foreman some 20 years earlier, Shannon had re-invented himself, creating as much buzz outside the ring as inside it.

To say Briggs has been entertaining since his comeback would be an understatement. And like it or not, he was about to receive an underserved title shot based on his entertainment value. 

So, what's next?

  1. If Shannon used PEDs, did he do it to enhance his physique, performance, or both? Not all PEDs are great performance-enhancers. Some are used solely for anabolic purposes.

  2. If his presumed PEDs use was simply to 'look the part,' expect to see a stockier, less toned Briggs continue on after a presumed impending suspension. His credibility will take a hit but, given his charisma and fervent fan base, expect him to continue to get ink when or if he continues to fight again.

  3. If the PEDs he presumably took formidably enhanced his performance, we might not see Shannon in the ring again.

  4. One thing Briggs must avoid is testing positive again. On March 3, 2017, heavyweight Alexander Povetkin was handed a fine of $250,000 and banned indefinitely by the World Boxing Council for failing two drugs tests. Their ban means they will no longer sanction his fights. It was also noted on the documents presented by the WBC that Povetkin would be allowed to apply in March 2018 to be included in their ranking system.

Shannon Briggs enjoyed a successful amateur stint, becoming a New York City Golden Gloves champion, New York State Champion, and National P.A.L. Champion. In 1991, he finished second in the heavyweight division at the Pan American Games after losing to Cuban amateur legend Félix Savón.

A heavyweight oddity of sorts at the time, Briggs won a majority decision over 48-year-old, then-lineal heavyweight champion George Foreman in 1997 in what is still considered one of the biggest high-profile robberies in the history of the sport. 

In his following bout, Briggs rocked then-WBC Heavyweight Champion Lennox Lewis in the early rounds before being systematically taken apart and subsequently knocked out in five. However, Shannon would gain a bit of redemption in 2006 by dramatically winning the WBO heavyweight title, stopping Siarhei Liakhovich in the final three seconds of the contest. He would lose his belt to Sultan Ibragimov the following year.

Briggs, who ballooned in weight after his retirement in 2011, came back a new man three years later.

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