Shannon Briggs is planning a return from nearly a four-year layoff with back-to-back fights in April and May.

The former WBO heavyweight champion informed that he intends to take a tune-up boxing match late in April. Briggs handlers also are negotiating with Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship to face former UFC heavyweight champ Ricco Rodriguez late in May.

“I’m looking forward to fighting Ricco, or whoever they have lined up,” Briggs said. “If they can make it happen, I’m looking forward to knocking him out. He was a great champion in UFC. From what I here, he’s a decent fighter. But he talks a lot of smack. I’ve been hearing things he said about me. If it’s true, you know what? Let’s go, champ. Let’s make it happen.”

The 48-year-old Briggs (60-6-1, 53 KOs, 1 NC) hasn’t boxed since he knocked out journeyman Emilio Zarate in the first round of their May 2016 bout in London. The Brooklyn-bred Briggs was supposed to face Fres Oquendo for one of the WBA’s secondary heavyweight titles in June 2017, but Briggs tested positive for severely elevated levels of testosterone, their fight was canceled, and Briggs was suspended for six months.

“I’ll definitely be boxing in late April, and then going to Bare Knuckle late in May,” said Briggs, who doesn’t have a date or opponent for his return to boxing. “I’ll shake a little rust off with the gloves, and then take the gloves off. But I’m always gonna be a boxer. My goal is to break George Foreman’s record. I was his last fight [in November 1997], and I’d like to become the oldest heavyweight champion in boxing history, and the only one to do it in three different decades.”

Rodriguez, 42, has fought once in a Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship bout. He beat Lewis Rumsey by unanimous decision in June 2018.

“I heard he said something about Paulie Malignaggi proved that boxers can’t make the transition over to bare knuckle,” Briggs said, referring to Malignaggi’s unanimous-decision loss to Artem Lobov last June 22. “I guess he never seen my fist. Once he gets hit with one of these hammers, I think he’s gonna have something a lot different say.”

The 6-feet-4, 250-pound Briggs considered competing in a mixed martial arts match many years ago, but it didn’t materialize.

“I’ve always looked to do new things in fight sports,” Briggs said. “I went over and fought in Japan; I fought in K1. That was great. We had a chance to fight in MMA. There was talk back in the day, but it never happened. This is something new. I think it’s gonna be great. I had a lot of street fights as a kid, so why not give it a shot?”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.