Two days after the epic Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight world title fight, one of the most significant in many years, one of the least significant was announced Monday.
Former two-time titleholder Shannon Briggs and former three-time title challenger Fres Oquendo, both more than a decade past their best days, will meet for a vacant secondary title on June 3 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, promoter Kris Lawrence of Briggs promoter The Heavyweight Factory announced.
Joshua retained his title and also won the WBA’s vacant so-called super title in his 11th-round knockout of Klitschko on Saturday before 90,000 at sold-out Wembley Stadium in London. Briggs and Oquendo will vie for the organization’s second-tier belt in a fight that has stoked so little interest that there is no American television for the bout, at least at this point.
Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs), 45, a former two-time world titleholder from Brooklyn, New York, and based in South Florida, said he is looking forward to fighting Oquendo so close to home.
“Being able to fight at Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, in front of my hometown fans and right in my backyard, is extremely exciting,” Briggs said. “I’m working very hard right now with some great sparring partners that are pushing me to the limit. Fight night will be a long one for Fres Oquendo.
“I want to dedicate this fight to my children, my family, all of my fans and to all of the people around the world who have suffered from depression. I’m living proof that you can make it. Don’t give up.”
Briggs has won nine fights in a row, albeit against very low-level opposition, since he took a savage beating in a shutout decision loss challenging then-world titleholder Vitali Klitschko in Germany in 2010.
Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs), 44, a Puerto Rico native fighting out of Chicago, will be fighting for the first time since losing a majority decision for the same vacant title to Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia, in July 2014 and undergoing surgery for an injured shoulder in November 2015.
Oquendo had a rematch clause in the contract, but Chagaev’s team attempted to set up another title defense first. Oquendo sued Chagaev in United States federal court to force the rematch and won an injunction to stop Chagaev from defending the belt against anyone else. Even though Chagaev was eventually stripped of the title for failing to pay delinquent sanctioning fees, the WBA still owes Oquendo a title bout based on the court ruling. Oquendo is 0-3 in world title bouts, having lost to Chagaev, John Ruiz (by 11th-round knockout in 2004) and Chris Byrd (by unanimous decision in 2003).
“This will be a great fight between two veteran American fighters,” Oquendo said. “I’ve fought in Miami five times, plus, I train at the historic 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, so I’m very comfortable here. The trials and tribulations I’ve encountered for 30 years in this sport and 20 as a professional are finally coming to fruition. They say third time is the charm, but the fourth is the holy grail and the most special.”