Brooklyn Boro

Wilder ready for his shot at Fury

Devastating KO of Szpilka Sets Up Potential Unification Bout

January 20, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By defending his WBC heavyweight belt at Barclays Center last weekend, Deontay Wilder set up a potential super bout with the winner of this year’s rematch between Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko. AP photo
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For more than a decade now, Americans have been waiting for a heavyweight champion to call their very own.

One who has the knockout power of a Mike Tyson, or perhaps the resilience and courage in the ring exhibited by Evander Holyfield, or even the gift of gab combined with the squared circle brilliance of Muhammad Ali.

Alabama native Deontay Wilder proved Saturday night that he is more than ready to stake his claim as the best in the world in that long-dormant weight class for U.S. fighters after a devastating ninth-round knockout of Polish challenger Artur Szpilka in Downtown Brooklyn on Saturday night.

By defending his WBC belt in front of 12,668 fans at the Barclays Center and a national cable audience via Showtime, Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) thrust himself into the jumbled field of heavyweights claiming to be the baddest man on the planet.

To his credit, Szpilka was a game challenger, keeping the bout close before Wilder snuck in under a looping left hand and crushed his opponent’s cheek and lower jaw with a vicious right that reverberated throughout Brooklyn’s home for boxing, which hosted the borough’s first heavyweight title card in 115 years.

Szpilka laid motionless on the canvas before doctors rushed in to assess his condition.

He was ultimately taken to Lutheran Hospital, but did communicate with ringside physicians and was able to move his extremities on the way out of the ring.

“I told him he was a great contender,” Wilder said, cutting short his celebration to check on his fellow combatant. “He came to give his all. He gave his all for Brooklyn. I always say two prayers. I say a team prayer and I say an individual prayer. I don’t want to hurt a man so he can’t go home to his family. We risk our lives every time we step in the ring. He’s definitely in my prayers and I hope he’s doing well.”

“He’s doing good,” Szpilka’s trainer Ronnie Shields said. “He’s awake and knows exactly where he is. He didn’t want to go to the hospital, but he’s going as a precaution. It’s better safe than sorry.” 

The brutal ending to the big bout had Barclays abuzz, and British goliath Tyson Fury, who holds both the WBO and WBA belts following his stunning unanimous decision victory over longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in Dusseldorf last November, was quick to climb into the ring to challenge Wilder.

“Any time, any place, anywhere. I’ll fight you in your backyard after I beat Klitschko again,” exclaimed Fury.

If only things were that simple.

While Fury will have to take on Klitschko again at some point this year, Wilder is locked into a fight with his mandatory WBC challenger, Alexander Povetkin, who was also sitting ringside at Barclays.

“We all know Fury is just a phony,” Wilder said. “This is just an act. I’m not scared of anybody. We’ll come to your backyard. This is just an act — you’re not a real fighter. I don’t play. This isn’t wrestling. When you do step in that ring with me I promise you I will baptize you. 

“I would love to fight him next. Unfortunately, I have other mandatories due. Make the date Tyson, I promise you,” Wilder added.

Though no date has yet been set for Wilder’s mandatory defense, it might be prudent for the fight’s promoters to look at returning the 32-year-old “Bronze Bomber” to Brooklyn after the historic heavyweight bout drew one of the better boxing crowds in the arena’s brief history.

In the main preliminary bout, Charles Martin, a southpaw out of Missouri, captured the IBF heavyweight title when Vyacheslav Glazkov was unable to continue after suffering an injury to his right knee in just the third round.

Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs), who was the aggressor throughout the fight, became the sixth left-handed heavyweight champion in boxing history, and joined Wilder as a current U.S. heavyweight titlist. 

“I still wanted to fight,” Martin said. “We trained for 12 rounds and we were going to get stronger as the rounds went on. He just kind of twisted his ankle, it looked like. But every time I hit him in the body and his legs were flying. It’s boxing. That was a football injury. I’m sorry for him. It’s unfortunate he couldn’t continue the fight.”

Of local interest, Brooklyn resident Adam Kownacki (13-0, 10 KOs) thrilled the hometown crowd with an exciting and dominant victory over Danny Kelly (9-2-1, 8 KOs).

The Polish-born fighter used precise hooks and devastating uppercuts to earn the unanimous decision by scores of 80-72 twice and 79-73.  

 


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