Briggs-Oquendo Set for WBA Belt
Two-time world heavyweight champion Shannon "The Cannon" Briggs and three-time title challenger Fres Oquendo will battle for the World Boxing Association (WBA) Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Backyard Brawl: Briggs vs. Oquendo taking place on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla.
The fight was announced via a press release on Monday:
One of boxing’s most popular and larger-than-life personalities who fights in its resurgent glamor division, Briggs’ self-made brand and boxing acumen has helped him land several world title fights since 1998. On June 3, the 45-year-old Briggs will bring a five-fight knockout streak into the ring as he attempts to make history bymatching the likes of two-time world heavyweight champion George Foreman. The oldest heavyweight champion ever, Foreman won his final heavyweight championship at the age of 45.
"Fighting for the WBA Heavyweight Championship against Fres Oquendo is a wonderful opportunity and true privilege," said Briggs. "Being able to fight at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, in front of my hometown fans and right in my backyard is extremely exciting. I’m working very hard right now with some great sparring partners that are pushing me to the limit. Fight night will be a long one for Fres Oquendo. I want to dedicate this fight to my children, my family, all of my fans and to all of the people around the world who have suffered from depression. I’m living proof that you can make it. Don’t give up. LET’S GO CHAMP!"
Returning to the ring after a disputed defeat to Ruslan Chagaev in a 2014 title fight, Oquendo is co-promoted by future Hall of Famer Roy Jones Jr.’s Square Ring Promotions and Hitz Boxing as he looks to become the first heavyweight champion from Puerto Rico since John Ruiz in 2001.
"This will be a great fight between two veteran American fighters," said Oquendo. "I’ve fought in Miami five times, plus, I train at the historic 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, so I’m very comfortable here. The trials and tribulations I’ve encountered for 30 years in this sport and 20 as a professional, are finally coming to fruition. They say third time is the charm, but the fourth is the holy grail and the most special. I’m dedicating this fight to Jaxon King, my friend’s son who just passed away at five years of age. I’m also doing this for my mentor, Muhammad Ali. Winning his belt on the anniversary of his passing will be special. I’m going to borrow the belt for a bit and give it back when I’m done beating Shannon."
Less than 30 miles from the Miami Beach Convention Center that hosted the 1964 Fight of the Year between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston, Briggs and Oquendo will look to ignite the passions of the rabid boxing fans in South Florida as they seek a piece of the championship crown and move closer to the ultimate goal of unifying the heavyweight division.
"We’re extremely excited about bringing this WBA Heavyweight World Championship fight to Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino," said Kris Lawrence, founder of The Heavyweight Factory. "We’re really proud of Shannon Briggs, who has a chance to tie George Foreman’s record and become a champion for a third time. It is truly amazing for a heavyweight like Shannon to have lasted and preserved himself for so long. He was champion in two different decades. First in 1997 and then 2006. Now in 2017, he has the chance to do it again. We hope to see everyone coming out and supporting Shannon Briggs the night of the fight, as he is the ‘People’s Champ.’ LET’S GO CHAMP!"
Briggs has made South Florida his home and training camp for much of his career. He will be making his fourth start at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and his ninth in the state.
Representing the boxing hotbed of Brooklyn, Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs) seeks the third heavyweight world title in his long and eventful career. Briggs became a world champion in 2006 when he scored a 12th round stoppage of Siarhei Liakhovich. Briggs has faced the best heavyweights in the world and won the lineal heavyweight world title from George Foreman in 1997. He also defeated Ray Mercer in 2005, in addition to world title challenges of Lennox Lewis and Vitali Klitschko. He enters this fight as the winner of his last nine contests, including eight knockouts and a 12-round decision over Raphael Zumbano Love.
Originally from Puerto Rico and fighting out of Chicago throughout his pro career, Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs)looks to capitalize on his fourth opportunity and capture a world title. The slick-boxer has faced a slew of top heavyweights throughout his career, including narrow decision losses to Evander Holyfield and James Toney, plus title challenges of Chris Byrd and John Ruiz. The 44-year-old owns recent victories over Derric Rossy and Joey Abell in addition to triumphs over Clifford Etienne, David Izon and Javier Mora.