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Briggs to 'rid boxing' of Fury, overcome depression for third title

By
Alex Butler
U.S. boxer Shannon Briggs disturbs the press training of the IBF world championship boxing fight between Ukraine's Vladimir Klitschko and Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev in 2014 in Hamburg, Germany. File Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/EPA
U.S. boxer Shannon Briggs disturbs the press training of the IBF world championship boxing fight between Ukraine's Vladimir Klitschko and Bulgaria's Kubrat Pulev in 2014 in Hamburg, Germany. File Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/EPA

Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Shannon Briggs can hear something nobody else can when he is in the boxing ring: the sound of his fist breaking the ribs of his opponent.

But outside the ropes, Briggs has a past of being broken himself. He has struggled with depression since he was a child. He had later battles with prescription medication, which led to thoughts of suicide.

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He won't specify his current weight, coyly saying that he is "2-a little-bit-fat" pounds, but he remembers a time when he read a number higher than 400 on the scale.

The two-time World Heavyweight Champion has had numerous departures from the sport. He held the title from 1997 to 1998 and again from 2006 to 2007. He says details for his next bout will be available this week.

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Shannon Briggs (right) lands a shot to the head of WBO Heavyweight Champion Sergei Liakhovich (left) in 2006 on Showtime Championship boxing at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. Photo by Tom Casino/Showtime

Briggs has been discussing a matchup with Tyson Fury. He said the fighters are looking to have the fight in London or Manchester, hopefully at Wembley Stadium. The duo has discussed the bout for five months.

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"I'm gonna knock him flat out," Briggs told UPI. "I don't like him. I don't like his face. I don't like nothing about him. I'm knocking him out."

Briggs, 46, spreads around the gratitude for his comeback like he does with his first-round knockouts. His 35 takedowns in the opening session are the most ever for a heavyweight champion.

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Part of it ties into Briggs' business venture, called Champ RX LLC, which plans to launch an alternative health and wellness line of CBD, or cannabidiol, products this year, which are THC free. ChampRX has partnered with professional sports teams and organizations to show research on how the CBD products can help chronic traumatic encephalopathy and other brain diseases and damages caused by traumatic head injuries.

The World Anti-Doping Agency officially removed cannabidiol from its prohibited substances list on Jan. 1.

"Cannabidiol is no longer prohibited," WADA said in a statement. "Synthetic cannabidiol is not a cannabimimetic; however, cannabidiol extracted from cannabis plants may also contain varying concentrations of THC, which remains a prohibited substance."

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Cannabis credit

"I credit a lot of things," Briggs said, when asked about how he pulled off his comeback. "I have taken some breaks here and there, some for acting jobs or a movie or whether it was hardships or suffering from depression. I've suffered from depression since I was a kid. I've battled with it on and off throughout my life.

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"Three years ago I had a breakdown and I ballooned up to like 400 pounds. But I was fortunate to find treatment in CBD and the cannabis plant. And in doing so I lost 160 pounds. I came back to boxing and had 10 times the fight, knocking out everybody. And now Tyson Fury is next. I'm looking forward to it. CBD changed my life."

Briggs said he wants to spread his story and help others.

"I wanted to kill myself. But here I am ... I am in great shape. I'm going to become heavyweight champion of the world for the third time and the whole world is going to be saying let's go champ! What's better than that?"

Briggs also touched on pain killer addiction and overdose in other sports and in the United States. There were more than 64,000 deaths from drug overdoses in the United States in 2016, the latest year for statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's brutal," Briggs said. "Sixty-four thousand died, when we have a natural cannabis plant that can save lives and get people off of heroin addiction and here we are not using it. Give the people what they need. The people need hemp. They need the cannabis plant to get off of heroin."

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"And naturally prescribed drugs OxyContin and these different pain relievers that get people addicted, man. I was prescribed Cerritos ... Xanax, Zoloft. They ballooned me up to 400 pounds. I wanted to kill myself, but fortunately this plant saved my life. Why is it not being sold to the world? Big pharma must be involved. We gotta stop this. We gotta come together and save lives."

One of the products prescribed to Briggs led to his suspension from the sport. He was tested and the results showed elevated levels of testosterone. Briggs was devastated when he received the six-month ban from the WBA. He was due to face Fres Oquendo for the WBA's secondary world title on June 3, before the fight was canceled.

Briggs (60-6-1) hasn't lost a fight since his 2010 setback to Vitali Klitschko. His last bout ended with a knockout of Emilio Ezequiel Zarate in 2016 at the O2 Arena in London.

Fury hasn't fought since beating Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. He recently applied to the British Boxing Board of Control for a new boxing license. The 29-year-old was suspended in 2016 for taking a banned substance. He also spoke about his depression and history of doing cocaine in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone.

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While Briggs is comfortable with knocking Fury inside the ropes, he doesn't touch those demons he faces outside the ring.

Fury-ous comeback

"It's gonna be a great fight. I can't wait," Briggs said of a matchup with Fury. "I don't like him. I'm just telling you, I'm gonna knock him out. At the press conference, the weigh in, I'm serious. It's gonna be the fight of the century. He talks a lot of crap. I'm sick of him. I'm sick of his mouth. He's on Twitter all the time. I'm gonna break his fingers when I see him. I got something for his Twitter fingers."

Fury has no trouble gassing up the hype machine with his Twitter feed. He frequently calls out fellow fighters and compares himself to boxing legends.

Fury has publicly said he wants to fight Anthony Joshua in his first fight back. He ran a poll for his fans on Nov. 16, asking who should be his next victim. Briggs won that pole with 43 percent of the vote.

"As far as he has back in his life outside the ring, I will never go at him that way because I've had my troubles and it's not good to get on people and tease him about things in life that they might have went through," Briggs said.

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"My end goal is because he thinks he is better than what he is. I saw a tweet this morning. I woke up at 5 a.m. and he tweeted about comparing himself to Jack Johnson and how great he is as a boxer. This guy is delusional. He even compared himself to Ray Leonard."

Briggs is aiming to join Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield as the only boxers to become three-time world heavyweight champions.

"[Fury] is crazy. He's sick. He is sick in the head. So I'm going to rid boxing of him. I'm going to do everybody a favor and knock him out cold. So he can go back to his corner somewhere and disappear.

"The truth of the matter is, I think he's a little scared. But I understand. I mean I punch really, really hard. Something is wrong with me. I punch so hard that usually I can hear the ribs crack when I hit them ... So I understand, he don't want to get his ribs cracked. Who wants to get cracked ribs?"

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