American heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) defended his WBC title Saturday night for the third time with a devastating ninth round knockout of game Polish challenger Artur Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs) in front of 12,668 boisterous fans at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The 6'7" Wilder used his superior reach to land 42 percent of his power shots.
“He was definitely a crafty guy,” said Wilder. “I haven’t competed against a southpaw in three years. He was a tough competitor, but you’re fighting for a world title. It’s not supposed to be easy. I’m surprised it took that long, but we had 12 rounds and they can’t all can’t be pretty.”
Throughout the fight, Szpilka's footwork, upper body movement, and southpaw stance made things difficult for Wilder. That soon changed at the 2:24 mark of the ninth round when an eager Szpilka walked into a brutal right to the chin while throwing a wide left. Szpilka fell onto his back and remained unconscious on the canvas for a few moments before responding to questions and stating he was fine.
“I told him he was a great contender,” said the 30-year-old Wilder. “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.
Szpilka was conversing and moving all his extremities, however, he was taken to Lutheran Hospital on a stretcher as a precautionary measure.
“He’s doing good,” said Szpilka’s trainer Ronnie Shields. “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.”
Watching from ringside were WBA and WBO Heavyweight World Champion Tyson Fury, and Wilder’s mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin.
Fury, the outspoken British unified world champion, climbed into the ring after the fight and claimed he wanted to fight Wilder in a unification blockbuster.
“Any time, any place, anywhere. I’ll fight you in your backyard after I beat (Wladimir) Klitschko again.”
Wilder, the first American heavyweight champion in nearly a decade, dismissed Fury’s antics while promising he was game for a showdown that is undoubtedly one of the biggest fights that can be made in boxing.
“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.”
Martin defeats Glazkov for IBF heavyweight belt
On the undercard, Charles Martin won the IBF Heavyweight World Championship when Vyacheslav Glazkov suffered a right knee injury in the third round and was unable to continue. The fight was scored a third round TKO (1:50) after Glazkov told referee Earl Brown that he was unable to continue.
Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs), who was the aggressor throughout the fight, becomes the sixth southpaw heavyweight champion in boxing history and the second current American heavyweight titlist.
Glazkov (21-1-1, 13 KOs) slipped early in the third and seemed uneasy when he returned to his feet. The previously undefeated Ukrainian continued fighting, but he fell to the canvas again while throwing a punch. Replays confirmed that the right knee injury was a slip and wasn’t the result of a connected shot from Martin.
After the fight, ringside doctor Gerard Verlotta confirmed to reporter Jim Gray that the injury was a torn right ACL.
“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. I want to unify the titles. We didn’t even fight tonight. I want another fighter. I want Tyson Fury.”
A dejected Glazkov pleaded his case for a rematch while being inspected by doctors in his locker room.
“This should have been my belt,” Glazkov said. “I already had him figured out. I slipped and felt a sharp pain in my right knee and felt it give it out. I'm very upset. I want a rematch when I recover.”
In another undercard bout, undefeated Notre Dame alum Mike Lee (16-0, 10 KOs) was sharp in his cruiserweight outing as he stopped Joseph Gardner (11-9-1, 1 KO) 43 seconds into round three. Lee dropped his opponent twice in round three before finishing the bout in round four.
Leo Santa Cruz to face Kiko Martinez on February 27
Showtime announced that three-division world champion, the undefeated Leo Santa Cruz will make the first defense of his WBA featherweight title against 29-year-old former super bantamweight world champion Kiko Martinez on Saturday, February 27 from Honda Center in Anaheim.
In addition, Showtime acquired the television rights to the February 27 Super Bantamweight World Championship unification bout between IBF champion Carl Frampton and WBA titlist Scott Quigg.
Frampton (21-0, 14 KOs), of Belfast, Northern Ireland, won the IBF Super Bantamweight World Championship with a unanimous decision over Kiko Martinez in 2014. The 28-year-old, who is promoted by International Boxing Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan, made two successful defenses of the title in 2015 – a fifth-round knockout of Chris Avalos last February in England and a 12-round unanimous decision over Alejandro Gonzalez Jr., on PBC on CBS last July. An accomplished amateur, Frampton won Irish national championships in 2005 and 2009, plus a European Union Juniors silver medal in 2007.
The undefeated Quigg (32-0-2, 23 KOs), of Lancashire, United Kingdom, has been a staple at 122 pounds since 2012. He won the Interim WBA Super Bantamweight Title in a rematch against Rendall Munroe in 2012 before being named the full champion in October 2013. Quigg has made six defenses of the title, including three by knockout inside of four rounds. The 27-year-old floored Kiko Martinez twice en route to a second-round TKO last July 18 in Manchester, England, the same day Frampton defeated Gonzalez Jr. The powerful Quigg has fought just 29 total rounds in his last five fights, but he’ll be facing his toughest test to date in a fellow champion with an unblemished record.
Undefeated Roberto Arriaza signs with Thompson Boxing and Gary Shaw
Thompson Boxing Promotions and Gary Shaw Productions have signed undefeated welterweight Roberto Arriaza (10-0, 9 KOs) to an exclusive promotional contract, the two U.S. based promoters announced.
"We like his size, skill, and power," said Alex Camponovo, matchmaker and general manager at Thompson Boxing Promotions. "He has strong technical ability and excellent instincts."
The 25-year-old Arriaza had this to say about the signing: "I feel very blessed to sign with Thompson Boxing and Gary Shaw Productions. They have a great history of developing talent and producing world champions. I'm hungry to be the best in the welterweight division. Nothing comes easy in this sport. I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me."
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services