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Boxing Preview Analysis: Vitali Klitschko vs. Shannon Briggs

It could be called a matchup over 10 years too late.

Two heavyweight veterans meet tonight for the WBC heavyweight title when the German based Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko makes his fifth defence, facing Shannon Briggs in Hamburg.

For Klitschko, this is his third reign as a world heavyweight champion. Back in 1999, Klitschko bludgeoned the Brit Herbie Hide in two rounds to win the WBO version of the title.

After losing the title on a shoulder injury to Chris Byrd in 2000, Klitschko would go on to valiantly give Lennox Lewis all the trouble he could handle in June 2003 in a bout for the WBC title. In that brawl, Lewis was shaken on more than one occasion before Klitschko would lose due to horrendous cuts in the sixth round.

Vitali would clamour for a rematch but this would never happen. Lewis retired and Klitschko would go on to claim the vacated crown one year later. After one defence against the brave Danny Williams in 2004, Klitschko would himself retire from the ring due to injury.

Four years later in a fight against Samuel Peter for his old WBC version, it was like Dr. Ironfist had never been away as he took back his honours in eight one sided rounds.

In Shannon Briggs, Klitschko meets arguably his biggest name opponent in what could be called his second career. One year younger at 38, although born in the same year as Klitschko, Briggs has boxed 58 times, losing just five times.

Back in 1997, he would controversially end the career of Big George Foreman, winning a 12 round decision still disputed to this day. In his very next fight in March 1998, he fought gamely against the then WBC champion Lennox Lewis before Lewis' power settled matters in the fifth round after three knockdowns.

In the last 12 years however, Briggs' career has been very much hit and miss. Although regularly active and winning more than losing, he was fighting the same level of opposition which was visible in is early pro career back in 1992. The few name opponents he has faced, you could say he has struggled against and a drawn verdict against Frans Botha in 1999 would be evidence of that.

Briggs would however, finally win a world title in 2006, bagging the WBO version only to lose it in his first defence against the tricky Sultan Ibragimov. Against Klitschko, this is last chance saloon.

Although Briggs has had a eventful career in the last 18 years, I'm finding it hard to see how he can put a dent in the seemingly iron chinned Vitali Klitschko.

Its another big boxing occasion in Germany and it will be a hell of a show but I cant see anything but a Vitali win. He just seems too complete a fighter to lose to a 38 year old version of Shannon Briggs.

Vitali by late stoppage for me.

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