Briggs tests positive; fight with Oquendo off

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Former two-time heavyweight world titleholder Shannon Briggs has tested positive for dramatically increased levels of testosterone, which will force his vacant title bout against Fres Oquendo to be canceled.

Briggs and Oquendo were due to meet June 3 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, for the WBA’s “regular” belt to the recognized so-called “super” title held by unified titleholder Anthony Joshua.

Oquendo-Briggs was already likely to be postponed because Briggs’ promoter, The Heavyweight Factory, has been unable to secure a television deal for the bout, but the positive drug test means it will be called off regardless of the promoter’s issues selling the fight.

On Saturday, Dr. Margaret Goodman, president of the Las Vegas-based Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which was overseeing drug testing for the bout as part of the WBA’s Fair Boxing Program, sent those involved a letter disclosing that Briggs’ urine sample collected in Hollywood, Florida, on May 14 — and analyzed on May 16 at the UCLA Olympic Analytical Laboratory in Los Angeles — had come back with elevated levels of testosterone.

According to Goodman’s letter, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, Briggs’ A sample was “analyzed for anabolic agents, diuretics, beta-2 agonists, metabolic modulators, GHRP, hormones and related substances” and that there was an “atypical” finding: his testosterone to epitestosterone ratio was 7.89 to 1. That far exceeds the allowable threshold of 4 to 1 under World Anti-Doping Agency standards.

Briggs has the right to ask for an analysis of his B sample at his expense, though it is extremely rare for a B sample to produce a result different than the A sample.

The Oquendo camp pushed for VADA testing when the fight was being negotiated, but according to a source with knowledge of the testing situation, the Briggs camp balked at first before finally agreeing.

Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs), 45, a Brooklyn native based in South Florida, is a decade past his last meaningful victory, a 12th-round knockout with one second left in the fight against Sergey Liakhovich to win a world title in 2006.

Since suffering a brutal beating in a shutout decision loss challenging then-titleholder Vitali Klitschko in 2010, Briggs has won nine fights in a row, but against extremely low-level opposition.

Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs), 44, a Puerto Rico native fighting out of Chicago, and also more than a decade past the time he was considered a serious contender, has not fought 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.

Despite a résumé devoid of a meaningful victory for many years, the WBA owes Oquendo, who is 0-3 in world title fights, a title bout based on a United States federal court ruling stemming from a lawsuit Oquendo won against the sanctioning organization.

Oquendo co-promoter John Wirt declined to comment on Briggs’ drug test. Briggs’ camp could not be reached for comment. The WBA told ESPN it would assess the situation before making a statement.

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