Liakhovich defends WBO title against Briggs

Nov 5, 2006 - 5:05 AM PHOENIX (Ticker) - Shannon Briggs now may be better known for his boxing.

After 11 1/2 rounds of listless fighting, Briggs dropped Sergei Liakhovich, then knocked him out of the ring in the closing seconds to take the WBO heavyweight belt at Chase Field on Saturday night.

Eight years ago, Briggs had a shot at the WBC heavyweight title but was knocked out in the fifth round by Lennox Lewis. Since then, he had gained more attention with his modeling and roles in movies such as "The Transporter" and "Bad Boys II."

But the 34-year-old Briggs changed all that in a matter of seconds. Trailing on all three scorecards, Briggs (48-4-1, 42 KOs) landed back-to-back right hands, knocking Liakhovich (23-2) to the canvas with 27 seconds remaining.

When the bout resumed, Briggs charged the champion, hit him with a right and a body blow before an unresponsive Liakhovich fell threw the ropes and landed on the scorers' table with one second remaining.

Referee Bobby Ferrara immediately called the fight. Liakhovich sat pinned between the ropes and table for several minutes.

Had Liakhovich stayed on his feet for another second, he probably would have retained the title because he was ahead on all three referees' scorecards.

Billed as "The Great Black Hope," Briggs broke a stranglehold of former Soviet Union natives who hold championship belts in the heavyweight division.

Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko owns the IBF belt, Russian Nikolay Valuev holds the WBA title and Oleg Maskaev - who was born in Kazakhstan - serves as WBC champ.

On the undercard, unbeaten 23-year-old Juan "Baby Bull" Diaz defended his WBA lightweight crown with a unanimous 12-round decision over Fernando Angulo, winning on the judges' scorecards by 118-109, 118-109 and 116-111.

In a bout that featured no knockdowns, Diaz (31-0, 15 KOs) pressured the challenger throughout and controlled the fight from start to finish. The 23-year-old's combination of right hands, hooks and a lethal jab were too much for Angulo (18-4).

"My performance was OK tonight," Diaz said. "I tried to fight, but he was holding me. But give him credit, he can take a punch."

Promotor Don King signed Diaz to the card as a sales pitch to fans from the Valley, who are predominantly Mexican and Mexican-American. Diaz, who has dual citizenship, was the youngest fighter with a major title when he won the WBA crown as a 20-year-old.

King had put together a card with three title bouts, but one was canceled when IBF super flyweight champion Luis Perez failed to make the weight Friday.

Perez (24-1, 15 KOs) weighed in five pounds over the limit and was forced to vacate his title. He was scheduled to fight Ricardo Vargas (39-12-3, 13 KOs).

Also on the undercard, Luis Collazo (27-2, 13 KOs) stopped Ukranian Artur "Scar" Atadzhanov (10-4) just 33 seconds into the sixth round. Collazo was fighting for the first time since losing his WBA welterweight belt to Ricky "Hitman" Hatton.

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