I have repeatedly railed against referee's and corners stopping fights too soon, but I was reminded recently that it can go the other way. Shannon Briggs joined a long line of inept opponents in being completely dominated by a Klitschko brother. Although the race to find new and interesting ways to do so is a tight one, Briggs brought back a little Oliver McCall magic against Vitali for his version.
True, Briggs is a sane man, unlike McCall. He has also gone passive in many losses (and even wins), so it didn't look that bizarre. He is also a public asthma sufferer, whose passivity is usually blamed on his ailment. Vitali Klitschko can also be blamed for not stepping on the gas a bit more when he realized he was under no threat. He many not be as safety-first as his younger brother, and with good reason... he has a better chin, but he didn't take every advantage presented to him here. Even though Briggs is a bomber, at a certain point, a fighter must change his behavior when he smells blood.
I am not going to take any of these stances, however. The fans and writers have provided the correct target. When you strip away what we know of both fighters, it becomes of a hopelessly outgunned opponent taking too much punishment. At that point, it becomes the reponsibility of officials and cornermen to rescue their fighter. A fighter's response in this situation is to try to hold on to his machismo in any way he knows how... usually by proving how durable he is. Unlike McCall, however, Briggs does not have a history of an iron chin, which may justify a "wait-and-see" attitude by officials.
There was also not a language barrier between fighter and referee. How hard would it have been for referee Ian John-Lewis to simply say, "show me something, Shannon" ad-nauseum, until Briggs realized he had to either quit or compete. That command, followed by inaction, is a complete justification for any stoppage. A referee has a duty to know when a fighter is done, and presents no threat. Certainly Cris Arreola was more deserving of a full twelve rounds of chances against Vitali than was Briggs. I can only help but wonder if his history as a passive fighter led to him being given more benefits of the doubt.
Where was Briggs' corner? One is essentially parenting in the ring at that point. You must make the threat to stop the fight, and back it up if nothing changes. As Adamek himself said, he had his best round (his only good one) against Chad Dawson after Buddy McGirt threatened to stop the fight. McGirt had proven he was willing to do so before, and it motivated Adamek. Apparently the same dynamic did not exist in the Briggs corner. It's a shame, because if he wasn't finished before, he definitely is now. Make movies, Shannon. You're a sharp guy who can exist well outside the ring. Your body and mind are certainly done existing in it.
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