By Ramon Rodriguez
A few years ago, David Tua, Jameel McCline and Shannon Briggs were all serious contenders on the verge of heavyweight superstardom. However, all three have had to deal with their fair share of adversity and have been bypassed this year by other heavyweights, men like Sam Peter, Calvin Brock and Monte Barrett. Al three are now scheduled to fight on the same August 26 show and they all say they have rededicated themselves to return to the upper echelon of boxing’s most coveted division.
On August 26, Warriors Boxing in association with Cedric Kushner Promotions will present “Heavyweight Heat,” featuring the hard-hitting Tua, “Big Time” Jameel McCline and the charismatic Shannon Briggs on pay-per-view show from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. For these three boxers, there is more at stake than just a much-needed win. Their upcoming bouts are the first step in reviving their pugilistic careers and becoming a major force in the heavyweight division once again.
Tua (43-3-1, 38 KOs), is fighting in the U.S for the first time in two
years, and says he is pleased about returning to showcase his crushing power. He has been dealing with management problems that kept him sidelined for a while as a nasty battle played out in the New Zealand legal system. He has had one local comeback bout, a win over Talmadge Griffis. “Obviously, I want to fight for a title and win it. I need to get back to the top again and concentrate on winning one fight at a time. I’ve been away but I’m certainly excited and back in the swing of things,” said Tua. “If anything else, I just need to work harder than I used to.” Tua will be matched against the hard-punching Cisse Salif, 17-4-2. Sixteen of Salif’s seventeen wins have come by knockout and he has won three straight bouts this year, although against limited opposition.
After two disappointing, close losses to IBF champ Chris Byrd and Calvin Brock, McCline (31-5-3, 19 KOs) is looking to stay active and regain his lofty status as a threat to the division. Against, Byrd, he may have been just a punch or two away from the IBF heavyweight title when he had Byrd down and hurt in the second round. Byrd survived and managed a one-point split decision winover McCline last November. The loss to Brock followed. Despite those razor-thin losses, McCline is not the least bit discouraged; instead, he is sure that his talent will deliver him to bigger things. “I can impact the heavyweight division by not being on the losing end of these close, exciting fights. I’m into fighting the best in the world, whoever is considered amongst the best, just like I’ve been doing in the last five, six years of my career,” said McCline. The opponent for McCline is scheduled to be Steve Pannell, 34-8. Pannell turned his career around in February with an early knockout of reigning Canadian heavyweight champion Patrice L’Heureux.
For Briggs (42-4-1, 36 KOs), who will take on former champion Ray Mercer, his immense love for boxing has allowed him to rededicate himself and has redirected his future path: to the top. In recent years, Briggs’ inactivity has often hindered his progress but according to him, those days are over and there is no heavyweight out there that can stand in his way of a title. “It doesn’t matter [who I fight of the four champions]. Whoever! I’ll fight Klitschko, I’ll fight Chris Byrd—I don’t care. My goal right now is to stay busy, fight every other month and fight my way back to the top and beyond,” said Briggs. “I’m not really impressed with what these guys are doing as far as promoting the sport, so I’m looking to go beyond what they’re doing.” Mercer is 34-5-1 and ended a 16-month hiatus from boxing with a recent win over Darroll Wilson.
If all goes as planned for these three gentlemen, the currently dull heavyweight division could once again look exciting.