Spreading the word: Shannon Briggs fighting back in court

Mike Marley, a New York lawyer, fellow boxing writer, former Marketing Director at Sycuan Casino here in San Diego, and now consulting lawyer for Shannon Briggs, sent me his filing papers from New York regarding the former two-time world heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs. Marley states, that Briggs, who spent 12 days in a German hospital after sustaining a wicked, 12-round beating at the hands of current world champion Vitali Klitschko in October, is fighting back. This time, the Brooklyn born and raised Briggs is not targeting an opponent in the ring.


“Briggs claims that he has been a victim of a “ripoff” on two fronts by his former promoters and business partners, part and parcel of which includes documents in which his signature was “forged,” states Marley.

“On Tuesday, Briggs filed a major lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court, alleging breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unjust enrichment and breach of contract against Gregory D. Cohen, Shelly Finkel and Barry Honig, and their boxing and entertainment promotional company, Empire Sports & Entertainment.

In the legal filing, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages, Briggs said that he agreed to fight the powerful Klitschko with the understanding that he would be paid a purse of $750,000, but he wound up with a mere $25,000, after he returned to the United States after the prolonged hospital stay in Hamburg.

Among Briggs’ massive fight injuries were a torn left bicep, a left tendon rupture and serious damage to his eyes.

“To add insult to injury,” the lawsuit alleges, “the defendants deducted the cost of Briggs’ hospitalization from the understated purse of the bout.”

Also, according to attorneys Jethro M. Eisenstein of Profeta & Eisenstein and Michael Marley, the defendants have also denied the fighter, now age 39 and still nursing what may be career-ending injuries from the Klitschko bout, “the compensation he was promised and to which he was entitled for his services to Golden Empire, Empire and Holdings.”

Briggs contends the two original, “50 percent” shareholders in fledgling Golden Empire, which later became Empire, were himself and Cohen and that he invested untold hours and used his prominent name in the sport to recruit and then sign talented boxers from different countries, including the Dominican Republic and Sweden, to promotional deals with Golden Empire which later became Empire.

Former world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, was personally recruited by Briggs to sign with the company.

Briggs also had a major role in Golden Empire/Empire expanding from boxing into the music business where the boxer “introduced Cohen and Finkel to major players” in that field.

The lawsuit alleges that the Briggs-Klitschko bout came about after Finkel became Chief Executive Officer of Empire and that Finkel was, at the same time, a consultant to Klitschko’s promotional company, K2 Promotions.

“At all times,” the lawsuit says, “Cohen, Honig and Finkel were in a fiduciary relationship with Briggs, as officers of a company in which Briggs held an ownership interest which obliged these defendants to act with scrupulous good faith in their dealings with Briggs.”

Not long after, the badly injured Briggs flew back from Germany, the lawsuit says the defendants released him from the boxing promotional agreement.

The lawsuit says “defendants have denied Briggs the compensation he was promised and to which he was entitled for his services to Golden Empire, Empire and Holdings.

“By their manipulation of successor corporations, defendants Cohen, Finkel and Honig have sought to dilute and diminish to the vanishing point the ownership interest Briggs has in the enterprise.”

Finally, the lawsuit alleges “Briggs understood and believed that his ownership interest in Golden Empire would ensure a promotional relationship in which his interests would always be advanced and protected.”

And then, expecting to be paid $750,000 for his brave stand in taking “a brutal beating” from Klitschko, Briggs was paid $25,000 and “terminated” from Empire’s roster.””

Hopefully, this matter will receive the full attention of the courts and can be resolved in an honorable fashion. For those who love the sport of boxing, we don’t want to keep hearing about these repeated examples of wise guys purportedly taking advantage of another professional boxer.

In Brigg’s internationally televised bout at the O2 Arena in Hamburg, Germany, Klitschko retained his WBC heavyweight title with a 12 round unanimous decision over Briggs, the former WBO and linear heavyweight champion. Briggs, with 30 first round knockouts among his 45 knockouts, tried in vain to get inside on Klitschko. Other than a few missing swings and grazing blows, Briggs landed very little of consequence.

Klitschko, on the other hand, threw from the arms and shoulders, and landed a significant number of straight power shots and left-right combinations to the head. Rounds 8, 9, 10 and 11 looked closer to 10-8 rounds, with Briggs being staggered backwards into the ropes.

Briggs main problem during the bout was his corner, who shouted conflicting instructions the entire bout, but offered no real advice. After the bout, Briggs was hospitalized for facial surgery with fractures under both eyes, a concussion, a broken left orbital bone in his face, and a broken nose. He also incurred a torn left bicep in the first round. He was hit 302 times in the head and body, 171 of them being clean shots.

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