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Liakhovich-Briggs Square Off On SHOWTIME

By Press Release
PHOENIX — WBO world heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich is tired of listening to Shannon Briggs and ready to start hitting him.

“Why do we need to talk?” said Liakhovich, pointing to the boxing ring above the pitcher`s mound at Chase Field. “Everything is going to happen right there.”

By Press Release
PHOENIX — WBO world heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich is tired of listening to Shannon Briggs and ready to start hitting him.

“Why do we need to talk?” said Liakhovich, pointing to the boxing ring above the pitcher`s mound at Chase Field. “Everything is going to happen right there.”

Liakhovich, a Belarus native who lives in Scottsdale, makes his first title defense Saturday night in a scheduled 12-round bout with the Brooklyn-born-and-bred Briggs. Liakhovich (23-1, 14 KOs) weighed in Thursday at 238 pounds, 30 pounds lighter than Briggs (47-4-1, 41 KOs).

Briggs, known as “the Cannon,” has been firing plenty of verbal shots at Liakhovich.

“I want to make him reconsider whether he wants to be in this profession,” Briggs said.

The Liakhovich-Briggs fight headlines a nine-bout card and is one of three title events.

Houston resident Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz (30-0 with 15 KOs) will put his WBA lightweight title on the line against Fernando Angulo (18-3 with 11 KOs) of Venezuela.

A third scheduled title bout was called off Friday when Nicaraguan Luis Perez (24-1 with 15 KOs) vacated his IBF junior bantamweight championship after failing to make weight, said Alan Hopper, a spokesman for promoter Don King. Perez had been scheduled to fight Mexico`s Ricardo Vargas (39-12-3 with 13 KOs).

The main event offers a contrast of styles, in and out of the ring.

Briggs has spent the days leading to the fight taunting the soft-spoken Liakhovich. Much of his bluster appears to be an act. But it has been getting on the champion`s nerves.

“I`m not this kind of person,” Liakhovich said. “He doesn`t know me, who I am. Why does he call me something? I don`t know him, and I don`t want to know him. It`s just ugly.”

Briggs might be trying to make Liakhovich lose his cool, abandon his game plan and get into a brawl.

“On Saturday night, fans can expect a knockout,” said Briggs, who acknowledges that might be his best shot at a victory. “I`m going for it. If he is still there after the first round, I will be surprised.”

Liakhovich`s handlers are confident he can withstand any barrage fired by Briggs, who has won his last 11 fights. Since defeating George Foreman in 12 rounds in 1997, Briggs has gone more than seven rounds only three times, with two losses and a draw.

“We`ll give [Briggs] as much respect as is needed,” Liakhovich trainer Kenny Weldon said. “Sergei is ready to fight 12 rounds, and he can hit with both hands.”

Briggs acknowledged his training habits have been suspect in the past but said he`s sparred more than 100 rounds to prepare for this fight.

“People always question my stamina,” he said. “There`s nothing like sparring for stamina.”

This is the second title fight for Briggs, who lost to Lennox Lewis by TKO in the fifth round in 1998. Liakhovich took the belt from Lamon Brewster in a 12-round decision April 1 in Cleveland.

If Liakhovich beats Briggs, he said he hopes to parlay the victory into a unification bout with one of the other three major heavyweight champs — the WBC`s Oleg Maskaev, the WBA`s Nicolay Valuev and the IBF`s Wladimir Klitschko.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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