Shannon Briggs, professional boxer and former Lineal heavyweight world Champion has decided it’s time to fight again. This time it isn’t in the square circle. This fight will be in the State of New York, where Briggs’ childhood dream of becoming a professional boxer began.
Although Briggs is an entrepreneur, actor, and philanthropist, he has been a professional boxer, loyal to the sport of boxing for 19 years, 59 fights, and 206 rounds where he has amassed a record of 51-6-1 with 45 knockouts.
Briggs made history as a heavyweight champion having 27 first round knockouts. He is known for his devastating punching power and “the man that beat the man.” Briggs’ record also reflects at least 3 recorded fights where he knocked out his opponents in less than 30 seconds.
As a baby born with asthma, and even homeless as a child, the heavyweight boxer has worked to prove that the underprivileged can live their dreams and be crowned a world champion boxer.
Unfortunately, there are people that prey on the successful, and Briggs isn’t exempt. Briggs has learned the hard lesson that the business of boxing outside of the ring can be as brutal, if not more brutal, than taking a beating inside the ring.
January 25, 2011, Shannon Briggs filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unjust enrichment and breach of contract against Gregory D. Cohen, Shelly Finkel and Barry Honig, and their boxing and entertainment promotional company, Empire Sports & Entertainment.
I have spoken with Briggs. I have read the press release, as well as the lawsuit in its entirety, and this story proves how important it is to have the best team protecting your interest.
In today’s lawsuit, Briggs claims that he has been a victim of unethical business dealings by his former promoters and business partners part and parcel, of which includes documents in which his signature was “forged.”
The Lawsuit also says that On November 30, 2009, Briggs and Cohen formed Golden Empire, LLC. Shannon Briggs contends that the each man was the original, “50 percent” shareholders in Golden Empire, which later became Empire. In January 2010, Honig became an investor in the company. In July 2010, Finkel joined Empire as its Chief Executive Officer.
Briggs said that he personally invested countless hours and used his prominent name in the sport to recruit and sign talented boxers to promotional deals with Golden Empire. Briggs and Cohen agreed that Briggs would also resume his own professional boxing career, with Golden Empire as his promoter.
Briggs understood and believed that his ownership and interest in Golden Empire would ensure a promotional relationship with Golden Empire in which his interests would always be advanced and protected.
The lawsuit also says that on February 10, 2010, Cohen and Honig incorporated Empire to succeed to the business of Golden Empire. Golden Empire transferred all its assets and liabilities to Empire on that date, and Empire assumed all assets, liabilities and promotional rights agreements entered into by Golden Empire, including the promotional agreement with Briggs.
The transfer of the assets, liabilities and business of Golden Empire to Empire was affected by Cohen and Honig without the knowledge or consent of Briggs, who was a 50% owner of Golden Empire and whose consent to such transfer was therefore required.
The lawsuit states that on or about February 10, 2010, Cohen assured Briggs that his ownership interest in Golden Empire was not compromised, and that there had merely been a change of name from Golden Empire to Empire, which was being done at Honig’s insistence.
However, according to Briggs and the lawsuit, the transfer diluted and diminished Briggs’ ownership interest in the business of Golden Empire of Empire without his knowledge.
After defendant Finkel joined Empire as its Chief Executive Officer, Empire, acting through Cohen, Finkel and Honig, proposed that Briggs should engage in a title fight against WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko. At the time this proposal was made, Finkel was both Chief Executive Officer of Empire, Briggs’s promoter, and a consultant to Klitschko’s promotional company, K2 Promotions.
The lawsuit says Cohen forged Briggs’ signature on a provision of services agreement dated July 27, 2010. The agreement said that the entity called “The Empire Sports & Entertainment of New York” promised to provide the services of Briggs to K2 Promotions for a heavyweight championship bout against Vitali Klitschko to be held in the fall of 2010.
The lawsuit also states, Cohen, on behalf of Finkel, Honig, Empire and Holdings promised Briggs a purse of $500,000 plus $50,000 training expenses plus $200,000 in additional compensation to participate in the bout against Vitali Klitschko, on October 16, 2010, and Briggs agreed to participate in the bout in reliance on that promise.
January 16, 2011 marks three months since Briggs faced the WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitscko, in Hamburg, Germany where Klitschko won by unanimous decision.
Shannon Briggs agreed to fight the powerhouse, Klitschko with the understanding from his promoters, that he would be paid a purse of $750,000, however, Briggs has only been paid $25,000 to date.
In the first round of the fight Briggs tore his bicep muscle that enabled him to proceed with his original fight plan. Although Briggs was hurt throughout, and took 300+ rights to the head and body, Shannon Briggs never went down.
“I was in pain from the beginning when I tore my bicep muscle in the first round, but I wouldn’t throw in the towel. I agreed to the fight in exchange for payment, and I owed it to the fans that paid to see the fight, to give them my best, even if my best was taking countless punches; unable to defend myself due to my first round injury.”
The world was amazed that a man could withstand the abuse that Briggs took. Vitali Klitschko said, “I could not believe he was still standing after taking so many punches.” Klitschko went for the knockout in the final round, but Briggs withstood everything.
Shannon Briggs is the only man to lose to Vitali Klitscko that heard the bell ring at the end of twelve rounds. It was historical. It is also disheartening that a man with the heart of lion took so much abuse and was not paid for being a valiant warrior.
After the match, Briggs was immediately taken to a local hospital in Hamburg Germany, where he was admitted and forced to stay for twelve days after sustaining the beating. Briggs’ massive fight injuries included a torn left bicep, a left tendon rupture and serious damage to his eyes. Medical research tells us that the cumulative effect of that kind of abuse show up later.
However, while Briggs was in the hospital, Cohen made reports to the media after visiting Briggs, claiming that his injuries were minor, which is why he expediently returned to New York. The lawsuit alleges that the defendants also deducted the cost of Briggs’ hospitalization from the understated purse of the bout.
I asked Briggs how he is recovering. “I am trying to recover the best I can. I’m in therapy. I will also need eye surgery”, says Briggs.
Briggs also said, “The last three months have been devastating for him and his family. Not only has he had to recover, but he is recovering from a beating where he has not been paid, and that isn’t easy.”
Not long after, the badly injured Briggs flew back from Germany, the defendants released him from the boxing promotional agreement.
We will keep readers informed as this story develops. Sadly, this is one more incident brought to our attention, proving how badly the sport of boxing is in need of reform.
Here are some pics of Briggs in the hospital.