After the drought,
comes our ‘Wild Wolf’

Oct 24, 2006 12:58 AM

Before Mayweather-Baldomir comes our White Wolf

The drought continues, which gives us a little breathing room now to prepare for the upcoming deluge.

While there are no worthy fights next weekend, there are dueling dates Nov. 4 and while most of our attention should be focused on Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his challenge of welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir at Mandalay Bay, I do not wish to overlook a heavyweight "title" fight that same night in Phoenix.

HBO pay-per-view will offer the Baldomir-Mayweather card, so if you’re on a tight budget, and you already subscribe to Showtime (and if you’re a serious boxing fan or bettor, that is de rigeur), there’s always the cheaper Sergei Liahkovich-Shannon Briggs match. Don’t ask what Mr. Briggs is doing in a so-called "title" fight.

This at least affords another look at the White Wolf, who scored a clear points victory earlier this year in a spirited bout against Lamon Brewster to take the WBOgus heavyweight championship. Liahkovich looked more than decent in that outing, although one has to temper any enthusiasm. It should be noted that Brewster, despite his stoppage of Wladimir Klitschko when Baby Brother’s fuel tank hit empty, was hardly the crème de la crème of the division.

One must also remember that in 2002, the Wolf was stopped by Maurice Harris. His biggest victory before Brewster was 16 months earlier in scoring a clear, but not impressive decision over Dominick Guinn. After the loss to Harris, he left Arizona trainer Chuck MacGregor (now in Briggs’s camp to assist Jeff Mayweather) and signed on with Kenny Weldon.

The Wolf should be at least a 3-1 favorite over Briggs, whose original pro trainer, Teddy Atlas, said suffered from being treated as the "future heavyweight champion," as if that were his title, by manager Marc Ratner. Briggs was coddled, a kid who once slept on subway stations in Brooklyn living with his manager and having virtual 24-hour maid service. Atlas complained that Briggs, a talented and promising amateur, lost any chance of a work ethic because there were people picking up his dirty socks etc.

Now about 270 pounds (he turned pro in 1992 at 205) the Brownsville heir to Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe, will turn 35 in December. He is still talking about "fulfilling my prophecy, the destiny," still thinking about winning a title so he could make the rounds with Letterman and Leno.

In his last real fight, Briggs was a dull loser to Jamaal McCline in 2002. He has won 11 straight since against the usual suspects, but at least these latest opponents entered with winning records. When he started out as a pro, Briggs faced one fighter with a winning record (3-2) in his first 15 bouts. For the salacious, I hereby print the records of the stalwarts who faced Briggs back then: 0-5, 0-1, 0-3, 0-1, 6-2, 4-2, 4-10, 0-1, 4-6-2, 8-44, 0-2.

Okay, later on he was given a majority decision over George Foreman for the "linear" heavyweight title . Big George had already been stripped by everyone for failing to face any real challengers. In truth, the fight wasn’t close. Foreman won.

In his next fight, Briggs did shake up Lennox Lewis in the opening round, but by the fifth he was spent. He’s always had stamina problems. He blamed asthma. He was never as big a puncher as advertised.

If Mo Harris can dent a chin, then Lyahkovich will not be completely safe from the expected early Briggs assault. But if the only heavyweight champion born in Vitebsk, Belarus, hangs in there, he should be able to solve Briggs - who will have 40-pound weight and 5½-inch reach advantages.

No line is listed on the Showtime semi, which features undefeated lightweight titlist Juan Diaz (the one from Houston studying law) against Venezuelan-based Fernando Angulo, who grew up in Ecuador. Angulo survived for years in the Amazon rain forest while subsisting on insects, worms and whatever else he could forage.

The undefeated Baby Bull is one of the most fan-friendly fighters around, except his manager Willie Savannah seems unwilling to allow him to face real opposition. Diaz said he’s watched films of his challenger, which means Savannah has judged Angulo to be nonthreatening.