The camps for long-faded heavyweights Shannon Briggs and Fres Oquendo made a deal on Wednesday for their mandatory bout for a vacant secondary world title, Oquendo co-promoters John Wirt of Square Ring Promotions and Bobby Hitz announced.
The deal came nine days after the fight was put up for a purse bid that produced only one bidder, Henry Rivalta of Briggs promoter the Heavyweight Factory, who offered $400,000.
The problem, however, was that the figure was nowhere near the minimum $1 million required for a heavyweight title fight by the WBA, which is sanctioning the bout, and the bid was disqualified.
That left the sides 10 days to make a deal or risk another failed purse bid, which would have likely knocked both fighters out of their positions. The camps made their deal one day before the second purse bid was scheduled for Thursday at the WBA offices in Panama City, Panama.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Wirt told ESPN that the Heavyweight Factory will promote the bout and that it is likely to take place on a date to be determined in May.
Wirt added that the site was not locked in, either, though the Heavyweight Factory's home base at the Hard Rock resort in Hollywood, Florida, is a good possibility.
"The Heavyweight Factory guys are supposed to tell us the date of the fight no later than March 10," Wirt said. "We've signed the contracts. Fres signed a bout agreement, and we have signed our agreement with the Heavyweight Factory. The Hard Rock in Hollywood is the most obvious place for them to put on the fight, but they may want to shop the fight and see if they can sell it somewhere else."
It likely will be a very hard sell. Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs), 45, a former two-time world titleholder from Brooklyn, New York, and Oquendo (37-8, 24 KOs), 43, of Chicago, are many years past their primes, and the fight that has stoked virtually no interest. No American TV network has interest in the fight, and fan interest is essentially nonexistent. Further, the WBA's top title is vacant, but Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko will be fighting for it, as well as Joshua's IBF title, when they meet on April 29 before a sold-out crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium in perhaps the most anticipated heavyweight fight since Lennox Lewis defended the world title against Mike Tyson in 2002.
"We are really excited that we were able to reach an agreement with Kris Lawrence and Henry Rivalta of the Heavyweight Factory," Wirt said. "It was a long process and a difficult negotiation, but the good news is that Fres will now have the chance to finally win the WBA heavyweight crown."
Oquendo, who is 0-3 in world title bouts against Ruslan Chagaev, John Ruiz and Chris Byrd, has been idle since losing a decision to Chagaev in July 2014, mainly because of shoulder surgery in November 2015. Oquendo is getting the title shot because of a federal court ruling he won against the WBA guaranteeing him one upon his return.
"Fres is in fantastic shape, and he is focused on winning this bout like I have never seen before," Hitz said. "I met with him [on Wednesday] and watched him spar, and he looked awesome. His preparation is second to none, and I predict it is going to be a great fight."
Briggs last fought for a title in 2010 and absorbed a frightening beating at the hands of Vitali Klitschko, who so severely punished him 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. He has won nine fights in a row, although all have come against low-level opposition.