Deontay Wilder, the current WBC heavyweight champion, will defend his title against Polish southpaw Artur “The Pin” Szpilka on January 16 at the Barclays Center, New York.
The Pole’s boxing career began by pure chance, after a coach spotted his natural talent during a pre-arranged football brawl that he participated in. Polish boxing news website Bokser report that Szpilka was found guilty of participation in a different street fight in 2009 and was incarcerated for 18-months.
“Rugged and a brawler”
Once again, Wilder, the only current American heavyweight champion, has been given a tame contender to hold his defence against.
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Artur Szpilka is 20-1-0, with 15 by knockout; he’s an ex-football hooligan who’s spent time in prison, who is currently eighth in the WBC rankings, but he shouldn’t pose any real problem to Deontay Wilder.
The bout in New York will span up to 12 rounds. Szpilka however, has never participated in a fight scheduled for more than ten rounds, while three of his last four bouts have been set to last just eight.
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“The Pin” won by unanimous decision against fellow Pole Tomasz Adamek in his last ten-round match, however, had lost by knockout to Bryant Jennings before that, and switched down to eight-round fights after defeating Adamek.
The fight against Jennings, in which Szpilka suffered his only career loss, saw the ex-hooligan wear himself out over the ten rounds, and get out-boxed by a superior fighter, before being annihilated in the final round.
Some credit is due to Szpilka as he didn’t hold back, and went in throwing punches. Unfortunately for him, however, few of those actually made any decent impact, and were continually parried aside. His often predictable and wide swings left him open, which Jennings took advantage of.
Looking at his most recent fight, against Cuban Yasmany Consuegra, Szpilka was similar in his technique, just against a far weaker opponent than Bryant Jennings. He came in fast, throwing plenty of jabs, and often attempted to roundhouse the very slow Consuegra. The fight eventually ended with Szpilka’s opponent suffering from a knee injury.
Speaking about the upcoming Wilder v Szpilka fight, promoter Lou DiBella told ESPN.com: "Whatever you want to say about Szpilka, the guy is rugged and a brawler.
"He won't stink the joint out. He'll make a good fight.”
In reality, this should be no more than a warm-up for Deontay Wilder, who is looking to contend with the likes of Tyson Fury to secure more heavyweight titles.
Squared up to Wilder
The American WBC champion boasts four extra inches in height and six extra in reach, and given the Polish contender’s style, Wilder could afford to hold off and wait for Szpilka to leave himself open when charging in.
The biggest challenge for Wilder here is that Szpilka fights southpaw. During the champion’s 35 undefeated matches he’s only traded punches with two southpaws. The first was Reggie Pena, who he defeated by knockout in round one, in 2011. The second, against a 41-year-old Audley Harrison, also ended in a first-round knockout for his opponent. To say that he’s untested against southpaws would be an understatement.
Wilder and fellow heavyweight champion Tyson Fury have been trading challenges over social media and, prior to the IBF stripping Fury of his belt, were vying for a unification bout.
Fury successfully switched to southpaw against Wladimir Klitschko to win three of the four major heavyweight title belts. This is a tactic that Deontay Wilder will be fully aware of and will be looking to prepare himself against.
Wilder to stay undefeated
As seen against Johann Duhaupas, Wilder has an incredibly accurate and powerful jab. He can just stand off of his opponent, sway to unlock them, and then unleash a flurry of precise, high-power punches.
Wilder should see the Szpilka fight as a chance to test his defence against a southpaw rather than another knockout to add to his record; but if the Pole leaves himself open, Wilder won’t be able to resist punishing him.
In terms of a result, anything could happen - just look at the Klitschko-Fury fight. Duhaupas surpassed expectation and gave Wilder a great challenge when they fought in August. Szpilka has the speed, stance and agility to potentially cause the American some problems, if he adopts a more conservative style than in his more recent bouts. The most likely outcome, however, is Wilder to win by knockout.
Will Wilder defeat Szpilka when the two face off on January 16th? Have your say below!