The Warriors

Combine a martial artist from Miami, a boxing trainer from Detroit, a mild-mannered Guyanese heavyweight, a dreadlocked ex-contender, and some Seminole money, and you get South Florida's hottest new boxing gym

As he steps out of the low-riding ring at Warriors, he looks better than he ever has. His modeling and music careers on hold, he's sloughed off 30 pounds of cheeseburgers and milkshakes and has dedicated himself meticulously to a comeback career.

"I'm feeling great," Briggs says after one of Caicedo's grueling workouts. "I was living and training up in NYC and felt I wasn't making the progress I needed to. Finally I said, "I've had enough.' And I'm here now. I feel like, with Herman, I'll get everything I need. His teachings are sound and physical."

Briggs met Caicedo while sparring with Purlett a couple of years ago. He was impressed with the way Purlett, then a good 60 pounds lighter than he, worked him like a veteran. But he was most impressed with Purlett's drive.

Though Warriors Boxing Gym is still under construction Andre Purlett (left) and Shannon Briggs have already started training there
Michael McElroy
Though Warriors Boxing Gym is still under construction Andre Purlett (left) and Shannon Briggs have already started training there

"It's what encouraged me to come work with Herman," Briggs says while a trainer works on his legs. "He and his crew are professionals, and that's hard to find in boxing. I watched them train Purlett and saw them execute the kind of discipline I need in my life."

Briggs relocated to Hollywood in May and hasn't regretted it. "I've been in boxing a long time, and I know B.S. when I hear it. These guys are sincere; they're for real. This is where it'll happen. With them I'm ready to come back now and fight Lewis or Rahman."

If he had his druthers, though, he'd love to fight Mike Tyson, which is the main reason he, Purlett, Robinson, and Caicedo jetted to New York City last week for their date with the King of All Media.

As the Warriors Boxing Gym crew sits in the greenroom, Shannon Briggs tells Howard Stern -- and the world -- that negotiations between his people and Tyson's people for a September fight in NYC are in the final stages.

"Tyson-Briggs is gonna be the King Kong-Godzilla of boxing," Jessie Robinson announces to his compatriots, "'cause you can't get bigger than that."

Stern is skeptical. Over the speaker in their holding pen, Briggs's pals listen to Stern tell their boy that he's "too pretty" to fight an animal like Mike Tyson.

Briggs bristles -- politely. "We're from the same neighborhood, we grew up three blocks apart," he points out. "Just two Brooklyn guys going at it. I've got three great trainers in Herman Caicedo, Jessie Robinson, and Greg Pierre," Briggs announces.

The gang in the greenroom lets loose a burst of cheers and hoots. All of them, that is, except Caicedo. He lets a smile crack, but that's it. He's busy making sure that Purlett drinks all the water an intern just brought him, like a mother would tell her baby to eat all his peas. Purlett's next fight -- July 6 against Rocky Gannon in Reno, Nevada -- approaches.

Then Smokin' Joe Frazier, who remained in the studio after his interview with Stern, starts putting the heat on Briggs's trainers.

"Three trainers, you know, just having the guys around is a waste of time," he rasps. "If these guys don't know what the hell they're doing, send them back home," Frazier says.

"Naw, Joe, these guys are very talented trainers," Briggs declares.

Then come the phone calls, each one a little worse than the next. One guy calls Briggs "a big chicken." Briggs responds by making a bet with Stern: If Briggs beats Tyson, then Stern has to kiss his bare ass in the Macy's window in downtown New York. But if Briggs loses, he has to do Stern's show naked.

After a few more minutes of abuse from callers ("Shannon, listen, you got a girl's name; quit fighting"), it's over. Frazier's segment ran a little long, so there was no time for Purlett or the trainers. Briggs did squeeze in shout-outs to Purlett and the gym, but that was it.

Purlett isn't pouting about the missed opportunity. "Man, I'd just as soon leave this show-biz stuff up to someone else," he says in his soft voice. "I just wanna go home and train."

The crew leaves the station and walks up 57th Street together. There'll be plenty of time for show biz later. For now it's back to Briggs's house in New Jersey. The group will return to Fort Lauderdale Saturday and rest on Sunday. Then, at about a quarter to six in the morning Monday, Caicedo will unlock the doors of the Warriors Boxing Gym and get back to work.

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