Sunday, April 02, 2023  |



Klitschko dominates game, but overmatched Briggs

Fighters Network

Vitali Klitschko acknowledges the crowd after pummeling Shannon Briggs en route to a shutout decision Saturday night in Hamburg, Germany. Photo / Marianne Muller

Typical Vitali Klitschko. Lumbering. Awkward. Perhaps beginning to show his age. And a dominating victory.

Klitschko, 39, broke down a durable and courageous Shannon Briggs, battered the 38-year-old American mercilessly in the second half of the fight and won every round on all three cards Saturday night in Hamburg, Germany.

Briggs was only the third man to go the distance with Klitschko (41-2, 38 knockouts), who was making the fifth defense of his heavyweight title.

Klitschko’s inability to put Briggs away was more a statement about Briggs’ resilience than Klitschko’s performance. The challenger took untold hard, punishing shots in the second half of the fight, almost collapsing more than once. The man can take a shot.

Still, Klitschko looked very good.

Briggs, who obviously was fit, boxed fairly well early in the fight and landed a few solid blows. That raised questions in my mind about whether Klitschko has slipped, questions I've had before. However, his dominance in the second half of the fight against a determined opponent quelled those thoughts. Klitschko’s consistency is striking.

That said, we shouldn’t read too much into the victory given that Briggs hasn’t been a legitimate contender for at least three years. There’s a big difference between tough, as he was Saturday, and capable.

We still yearn for a real or even perceived challenge for either of the Klitschko brothers. And, once again, that challenge might come in the form of David Haye.

I tried to imagine Haye in Briggs’ place as I watched the fight. Briggs is bigger and has more power than Haye but that didn’t matter because he couldn’t hit Klitschko with any consistency. Haye is tall enough to cope with Klitschko’s reach and quick enough to land many more punches than Briggs did.

Haye’s problem would be that his frame is much smaller than Klitschko’s, which leads us to the presumption of many observers: that the Briton would be unable to take the Ukrainian’s power.

I subscribe to that way of thinking. I think Haye would give Klitshcko some trouble with his skills and speed, perhaps more than he has experienced since he fought Lennox Lewis, but he inevitably would take some shots. And I don’t think he could stand up to them for long.

The fight would probably be as interesting as any in Klitschko's recent past but the result probably would be similar.

I’d sure like to it, though. And I know I'm not alone.