Briggs, 46, back from doping ban, seeks oldest heavyweight crown

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New York (AFP)

Two-time heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs announced a 2018 comeback Thursday after serving a doping ban, the 46-year-old American saying he will try to become boxing's oldest-ever heavyweight champion.

"I'm really happy to be getting back into training and I want to fight in 2018," Briggs said in a statement. "This past year was a tough year for me. It has been a long road, with many twists and turns, but I battled through it and feel good about the future."

Should he realize his goal, Briggs would become the oldest fighter to claim the crown in the elite division, surpassing George Foreman's feat at age 45.

But any road to a meaningful title figures to be a long and complicated one, with rival unbeaten champions Anthony Joshua of Britain and Deontay Wilder of the United States seeking a unification showdown and New Zealand's unbeaten Joseph Parker, the World Boxing Organization champion, also staking a claim on heavyweight supremacy.

Briggs was issued a six-month ban by the World Boxing Association for failing a doping test with elevated testosterone levels ahead of a canceled June title fight against Fres Oquendo for a secondary WBA heavyweight crown. Briggs completed the suspension period last month.

Briggs, 60-6 with one draw and 53 knockouts, beat Foreman in 1997 for the lineal heavyweight crown but was stopped in the fifth round in 1998 when he challenged Britain's Lennox Lewis for the World Boxing Council crown.

In 2006, Briggs stopped Siarhei Liakhovich of Belarus in the 12th round to claim the WBO title but dropped a unanimous 2007 decision to Russian Sultan Ibragimov in his first defense of the crown.

Since dropping a 12-round decision to Ukraine's Vitali Klitschko in 2010, Briggs has won nine consecutive fights, the most recent a May 2016 first-round knockout in London over Argentina's Emilo Zarate.