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Forgotten Warriors: Paul Briggs


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In Australian boxing history, there is hardly a more controversial and dramatic figure than Paul Briggs, also known as Hurricane. This two-time world title challenger at light heavyweight had all the tools but not the discipline to become a world class boxer and a world champion. Despite at 5'11 not being that tall for a light heavy, he could beat much taller men with his natural strength, warrior mentality and punching power. Best proof was when he took on the 6'5 Stipe Drews and put him down three times and won on points. He was also the first guy to give Tomasz Adamek a serious challenge-not once, but twice even. However, after losing the second fight, his career would soon unravel amidst some health problems and he would only make one comeback-which he wished he hadn't, getting blown out in one round by Danny Green. Here is the story of Hurricane Paul Briggs, perhaps the greatest underachiever in Aussie boxing history.


He was actually born in Christchurch, New Zealand, 13 August 1975, but grew up in Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia. His twin brother Nathan was also a boxer, a heavyweight (he stands 6'4), but his career was far less successful. At first, both brothers trained kickboxing and turned professional there at the age of 15. By the age of 18, Paul had developed so much that he was able to challenge the world champion of WKA organization, Jomhod Sor Chid Lata, and lost to him by a left low kick ko in round 2 on 26 March 1994. He would eventually retire from kickboxing in 1999, with a record of 2 wins and 2 losses, both wins and losses coming by ko. At the same time, he turned pro as a boxer in 1994, on 19 June, and won his first fight by MD10 against experienced Ronald Doo. He however lost the second one by KO3 to Larl Zada. It would be Zada's last fight, so Briggs wasn't given a chance to avenge his first loss. After that fight, which happened 4 January 1997, he was away from the ring for almost 3 years, after getting mixed up in various criminal activities and started doing drugs. Eventually, he got clean and sober and got back in the ring in late November 1999 and won his comeback fight against Ken Suavine by TKO4. On 24 November 2000, he won the Australian light heavy title by stopping Adrian Bellin by RTD7. On 4 March 2002, he also won the OPBF title by a TKO4 against Paul Smallman. On 18 September that year, he scored his first notable win when he knocked out Glen Kelly in 4 rounds-Kelly had just come off a 7th round ko loss to Roy Jones in a world title fight. That was his second and last defense of the OPBF belt and he vacated it after that. On 13 April 2003, he faced the legendary former WBA middle champion Jorge Castro and beat him by UD10, 100-90 and 99-91 twice. On 7 March next year, he had his first WBC-eliminator fight against Jesus Ruiz and despite being down once in the second, he went on to win by UD. He was then matched against the formidably tall Stipe "Spiderman" Drews from Croatia, who as mentioned stood 6'5 tall and had very long arms of course. That fight happened 15 August same year in Sydney and Briggs easily overcame the great height and reach disparity by putting Drews down three times, while Drews also got three points deducted for kneeing and headbutting. Of course, Briggs went on to win comfortably on all scorecards. He was now ready to challenge for the vacant WBC title.


He had to go to Chicago, where Tomasz Adamek was based, and the fight commenced on 21 May 2005 at the United Center. And what a fight it was! A true slugfest from start to finish, where Briggs was first cut from an accidental butt in the second, while Adamek's left eye already got swollen shut in the third. Nobody was down during the 12-round war, and in the end, Adamek emerged victorious by a majority decision. He went back to the drawing board for a while and then had two minor fights, beating the trialhorse Etianne Whitaker by KO5 and Jose Alberto Clavero by DQ5. He then received a rematch with Adamek and this time the fight was in Rosemont, Illinois, on 7 October 2006. Briggs started off best by dropping Adamek in the first round with a perfect counter left hook. The iron-chinned Adamek however got up and got back in the fight. He got one point deducted for a low blow in the ninth, but went on to win again by a majority decision, this time with slightly closer scores. Briggs was pretty much a spent fighter after these two great wars. He injured his ankle one day before his next fight against Rupert van Aswegen of South Africa but won by a clear UD in what he later called his worst performance. That was on 4 February 2007 and he experienced some problems with his nervous system not long after that. Although at first the condition got better and he announced a move to the super middleweight division, it soon again worsened and he was forced to retire at the age of 32.


He would be lured back to the ring one more time by a promise of big money and public exposure, in a fight against his rival Danny Green. The two had planned to fight each other before, but Green was fighting at 168 and was unwilling to come to 175 before Briggs had retired, when he ironically beat Stipe Drews to win the WBA title there. He had since come back as a cruiserweight and held the IBO title. Initially, the fight was to be held at Sydney, but the boxing commission there refused to okay the bout out of concerns for Briggs' medical fitness. Briggs was approaching 35 and hadn't been in a fight for over 3 years. The fight was then moved to Perth, Green's hometown and it commenced on 21 July 2010 at Challenge Stadium. And what a farce it turned out; after only 29 seconds, Briggs collapsed to the canvas after being hit by a glancing jab at the top of the head and that was it. Both the organizers of the fight and Briggs himself received a lot of flack for the whole spectacle. Briggs had also come in 7 pounds or 3 kilograms over the stipulated weight. Briggs was taken to hospital with a suspected concussion, but was proven to be fine. He was also accused of throwing the fight and fined 75 K by the Western Australian Combat Sports Commission.


With that, his once promising career ended on a disgraceful note. His record is 26(18)-4-0. In 2005, his autobiography titled "Heart, Soul, Fire: The Journey of Paul Briggs" was released, chronicling his descent into the criminal underworld in the mid 90's and drug abuse and violence and his return to respectability-sadly, that quest was further derailed by that last fight. About taking the fight, Briggs later said:"Did I take a dive? I've never taken a dive in my life. Where it went wrong: I sparred a hundred rounds to get ready for that fight. The harder I sparred, the worse it got. I was not right. Should I have taken the fight? Definitely not, but I'm a warrior, I fight..." And that is why Paul Briggs today is not so much forgotten as he would like to be, not in his home country. But still, in many other parts of this world-he is a FORGOTTEN WARRIOR!



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