Long-faded heavyweights Shannon Briggs and Fres Oquendo, both about a decade past their best days yet still mandated to meet for the WBA's vacant secondary world title, don't seem to be able to find any takers.
When the sides could not make a deal for the bout, a purse bid was held on Monday at WBA headquarters in Panama City, Panama. One bidder showed up, Henry Rivalta of Briggs promoter The Heavyweight Factory, and his bid was not valid. So a second purse bid was scheduled for Feb. 23.
Oquendo co-promoters Square Ring and Bobby Hitz did not bid and Rivalta's offer of $400,000 was invalidated because it was far below the $1 million minimum set by the organization for a heavyweight title fight. The fighters would split the winning bid 50-50, but it's a fight that has stoked virtually no interest. No TV network wants to put it on and fan interest is essentially nonexistent, making it difficult to attract a promoter willing to bid anything near the minimum required.
England's Anthony Joshua, who holds another organization's world title, and former long-reigning world champion Wladimir Klitschko are scheduled to meet on April 29 -- a British boxing record crowd of 90,000 will be on hand at sold-out Wembley Stadium in London -- for Joshua's belt as well as the WBA's so-called "super" title. Most view Joshua-Klitschko as a far more legitimate title fight than a Briggs-Oquendo bout for the secondary belt.
Briggs, a former two-time world titleholder from Brooklyn, New York, and Oquendo, of Chicago, were ordered to begin negotiating the bout on Jan. 2, and when they could not make a deal the purse bid was ordered. Their camps could still make a deal before Feb. 23 for any purse total they can agree on, which would force the second purse bid to be canceled.
If they don't make a deal and a second purse bid takes place and nobody bids, or if there is another invalid offer, Briggs and Oquendo could be stripped of their positions to fight for the vacant belt, according to the WBA's rules.
Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs), 45, and Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs), 43, are due to meet for the belt that became vacant because after Lucas Browne scored a comeback 10th-round knockout of Ruslan Chagaev to win it last March, Browne tested positive for a banned substance and was stripped of the title, which was given back to Chagaev. However, Chagaev was later stripped for his failure to pay delinquent sanctioning fees to the WBA.
Australia's Browne (24-0, 21 KOs) was then due to fight Briggs for the vacant belt on Dec. 31, but the fight was canceled after Browne failed a second random drug test in eight months. He is under suspension from participating in any WBA-sanctioned fight, according to the organization.
So Briggs was ordered to face Oquendo, who has been out of action since a majority decision loss to Chagaev for the vacant belt in July 2014. Oquendo is in the picture only because of what happened after his loss to Chagaev.
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. But Oquendo has been idle since because of a shoulder injury that required surgery in November 2015. Now that Oquendo is clear to fight again, the WBA still owes him a title bout based on the court ruling.
Briggs last fought for a title in 2010 and absorbed a frightening beating at the hands of Vitali Klitschko, who so severely punished him in a shutout decision that Briggs wound up in a German hospital for about two weeks. A four-year retirement followed, but Briggs returned in mid-2014 and has won nine fights in a row, although all have come against low-level opposition.