Hard hitting Australian light heavyweight Paul ‘Hurricane’ Briggs is looking forward to travelling to Germany where he will face American journeyman Etienne Whitaker on the undercard of Tomasz Adamek’s first defence of his WBC world title against once defeated German Thomas Ulrich on October 15.
With Briggs still adjusting to new trainer Johnny Lewis’s training regime he could be forgiven for using the tune-up bout to get some rounds in and work on some new techniques.
But the former kickboxing world champion has other plans.
“Complete and utter demolition,” said a confident Briggs, 23-2 (17), of his game plan going in to the fight. “Mate I’m sick of going the distance, let me put it that way.”
After spending close to a year in the United States training under Jack Mosley in California, Briggs relocated to Sydney a few months ago to work with Australia’s premier trainer.
“Things are going absolutely awesome,” said Briggs of training with Lewis. “The biggest thing he’s done is just really change my thinking behind my punching. I’ve always been a power puncher but instead of coming out and trying to knock out guys with one shot I’m really starting to punch in bunches. And although I was doing a lot of combination work with Jack Mosley, we were still working so much on my power that when I got in the ring it all just came out as a big power, one shot sort of thing.
“The stuff I’m doing with Johnny is really coming out in my sparring and the fact that I’m throwing a hell of a lot more punches. My workrate is right up, my head movement is a lot better and my defence is a lot better because I’m not going out there looking to load up and I’m relaxed and thinking a lot more.”
In May Briggs had his first real crack at the big time when he fought Adamek for the vacant WBC title on the undercard of the WBO heavyweight world title fight between Lamon Brewster and Polish bad boy Andrew Golota in Chicago, Illinois. After an unintentional head clash caused a nasty cut over Briggs’ left eye early in the second round that his corner couldn’t stop from bleeding, Briggs fought a valiant fight from behind a veil from blood, hammering the unbeaten Pole in the 8th round and hurting him again late in the fight.
Although the fight wasn’t carried on the US telecast, those in attendance were impressed by Briggs’ toughness and tenacity despite losing a majority decision at the conclusion of twelve rounds.
It was far from the perfect preparation for Briggs, who only had three weeks of sparring leading up to the biggest fight of his life and spent much of his downtime co-authoring his autobiography ‘Heart Soul Fire: The Life of Paul Briggs’.
“It’s definitely not what I wanted, let me put it that way, it’s just the way things worked out,” explained Briggs. “Shane Mosley was at Big Bear training for his fight and we were down at Pomona waiting for him to finish so that we could go into camp. The sparring partners that came over just weren’t standing up to what I had I suppose. It wasn’t that I was so awesome, it’s just that these guys were talking themselves up and you fly them in and then you’re just about nearly killing them in one session. So you have to fly them out and then it takes you a week to find another guy and then you fly them in, it’s just that sort of stuff. And that’s what I went to America for, to get the sparring. You’ve got no idea what I went through for that Adamek fight just with the sparring.”
Providing Briggs gets past Whitaker and Adamek defeats Ulrich, the world title rematch will likely take place in the next six months, probably in Chicago.
“I’ve got a contract already for the Adamek rematch and they’re looking at the end or this year and early next year, that’s what’s stipulated in the contract,” said Briggs. “But in saying that it really depends on what sort of date Don King can get. And as we saw last year things dragged out for nine months, so there’s a lot of things we’re putting in to the contract, like I can have maybe a warm-up fight in Australia to stay busy. I’m just not interested in time lagging like it has. Even if I just get in there and fight a stiff I really don’t care, as long as I can stay active and keep practicing my skills.
“If it’s Adamek it’ll definitely be in Chicago because it will just be massive for Chicago and HBO are going to take it if it’s Adamek. If it’s Ulrich it’s a completely different story. We’ve got to go to purse bids and hopefully Don King wins it so I don’t have to go to Germany. But mate I’m confident of knocking Ulrich out anywhere, it doesn’t matter where it is.”
After consensus light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver’s lackluster win over former pound-for-pound great Roy Jones Jr on October 1st, Briggs says that he didn’t see much to fear in Tarver and would welcome a chance to prove he’s the best in the division should he win the WBC crown.
“As far as Tarver goes, it’s all good mate,” said Briggs. “I’m really happy with his performance and I’m just looking forward to a future fight with him. He’s just a confidence fighter and he’s one of these guys that like I’ve always said I can break him mentally because he’s one of those guys who if he’s on top he’s fine. But he’s like a Glen Kelly; if he’s doing really well in a fight and he’s on top he looks a million bucks and looks like a world champion. But as soon as you start stinging him and going ‘c’mon let’s get it on’, he starts just thinking and thinking... And watching the replays of some of the combinations he throws, he’s just not accurate, his punches just sort of thump and slap... I’d love to fight him, put it that way.”
Briggs’ biography ‘Heart Soul Fire’ was released on Australian bookshelves late last month and has received positive reviews from most people who have read it. While most sportsmen wait until their careers have ended before telling their life story, Briggs felt it was important to chronicle his rise from drug user and stand-over man to light heavyweight contender in order to inspire regular members of the community.
“Mate it’s been absolutely amazing,” said Briggs of the feedback he has received on the book. “Some of the emails I’ve been getting from people who have read it have said it just really changed their lives or given them a completely different perspective on their own lives. And that means a lot to me because that was the thinking behind writing my story. It’s a pretty honest book and it’s a heavy book, it’s not light reading. But I’d like to think that if it can inspire one or two people, then beautiful, that’s the thinking behind it.
“If I can show where I’m at after what I’ve had to come through then anyone can do it. You can become bigger than Ben Hur if you can tackle your own demons.”
It seems that Briggs is not only in the best physical shape of his life, but that he is also where he needs to be mentally to achieve his dream of becoming world champion.
“I’m happy and I’m excited and I’m a dangerous fighter when I’ve got those two things happening,” said Briggs.
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