Monday, May 12, 2008

Two Heavyweight Champs

This week we've got two former heavyweight champions on the show -- Chris Byrd, who fights the following evening on Friday Night Fights. Byrd will be fighting as a light heavyweight. Also on the show is Shannon Briggs. The Cannon will be calling Byrd's fight with Joe Tess, as he fills in for Teddy Atlas.

I know that Briggs is not the most popular fighter due to his lackluster performances. However, the guy is a terrific storyteller. I've gotten to know him over the past few years and he really is quite interesting.

Here's my Shannon Briggs story:

We were calling the Joan Guzman - Antonio Davis fight in the Dominican Republic. On the way to the arena we were stopped by military personnel who wouldn't let us go further. We tried to explain that we were with television calling the fight. Except none of us spoke Spanish. Finally I pointed at Shannon and said, "el grande campeon" Not having any idea as to whether that actually meant he was a champion, but they recognized us and waved us through.

The arena was packed with 12,000 Guzmaniacs. When the fight was over, it seemed as if all 12,000 rushed the ring. Before I was finished saying, "Good night from Santo Domingo" Shannon had his earphones off and was heading for the exits. I asked him where he was going. Without turning around, he replied, "I don't know but I'm getting the f&%$ out of here!" Since I considered being with the baddest man on the planet my best shot at survival, I ran after him.

We had no idea how we were getting back to the hotel as the arena was located in a terrible neighborhood. On the way to the exit, he found his publicist Michael Marley. Michael told us Guzman had a bus and we should follow him.

We waited outside Guzman's dressing room for about an hour. The President of the D.R. came to visit Joan in the dressing room. Finally someone mentioned the bus was outside and we could get on. After a long night, all any of us wanted was a cold beer. But there is a law against selling alcohol after midnight during the week. Since it was 11:30 and Guzman was nowhere to be seen it would be a while before we got back.

Luckily, Shannon saw that the door to the concession stand was still open. He offered the guy $20 and came back to the bus with a few six packs of ice cold Presidente beer.

We waited for Guzman in comfort as we downed cerveza and listened to Shannon's stories of life as an amateur, being chased through the streets of Poland by skinheads and other wild tales.

Looking forward to having him on.

Talk to you Thursday.

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