The Other Heavyweight Champions

By Robert Ecksel on December 30, 2015
The Other Heavyweight Champions
Lou DiBella said Szpilka “won’t stink out the joint. He’ll make a good fight.” (Vasha Hunt)

No one expects Wilder vs. Szpilka to eclipse Jeffries-Corbett, and some think it’s a sacrilege to even mention the two fights in the same breath…

Now that Wladmir Klitschko has gotten his comeuppance, now that Tyson Fury has sucked all the oxygen out of the room, now that the IBF has stripped the Gypsy King of its title, it’s time to focus on the other heavyweight champions, one of whom has a title and another of whom will earn the privilege of wearing the IBF belt.

On Saturday, January 16, 2016, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (35-0, 34 KOs), “The Bronze Bomber” from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, gets his third optional defense in as many fights when he faces Artur “The Pin” Szpilka (20-1, 15 KOs), the southpaw from Wieliczka, Poland.

The co-main features Charles Martin (22-0-1, 20 KOs), the undefeated 29-year-old southpaw from Carson, California, by way of St. Louis, Missouri, fighting Vyacheslav “The Czar” Glazkov (21-0-1, 13 KOs), the 31-year-old from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, by way of Lugansk, Ukraine, for the suddenly vacant IBF heavyweight title.

Much has been made of the fact that there hasn’t been a heavyweight title fight in Brooklyn in 115 years, and now there’s not just one but two taking place, on the same night and in the same ring.

The last time a heavyweight championship bout took place in Brooklyn was on May 11, 1900, when champion James Jeffries, aka The Boilermaker, who had won the title from Bob Fitzsimmons a year earlier, knocked out former champion James J. Corbett in the 23rd round of what was his third title defense.

No one expects Wilder vs. Szpilka to eclipse Jeffries-Corbett, in interest, skill or relevance, and some think it’s a sacrilege to even mention the two fights in the same breath. But Wilder is one of the heavyweight champions, having beaten Stiverne who beat Arreola to win the vacant title, so Jeffries and Corbett, about whom few know and probably even fewer care, will have to content themselves by spinning in their graves as the word “historic” is used to describe the upcoming pair of heavyweight title fights.

Szpilka has been described as an “aggressive all-out brawler” and is currently ranked #8 by the WBC, neither of which means Wilder will lose any sleep as fight night approaches. “The Pin” is a bona fide tough guy, but Szpilka’s opponents are even less distinguished that Wilder’s. The big names of his résumé are Owen Beck, Jameel McCline, Mike Mollo, Brian Minto, Tomasz Adamek, and Bryant Jennings (to whom he lost). The not-so-big names on his résumé include Ty Cobb, Manuel Quezada and Yasmany Consuegra.

There is, needless to say, not a Tom Sharkey or Charlie Mitchell among them.

Be that as it may, Szpilka is on a four-fight win streak, is trained by Ronnie Shields, and he believes he’ll make history—there’s that word again—as the first Polish-born heavyweight champion.

Wilder, not to be outdone, expects to make history himself.

“I’m looking to make history myself as well,” he said. “You’re going to come to make history to be the first Polish heavyweight champion, and that’s what I like, man. I like these foreign guys that come to make history. I’m big on making history. So there are two guys who are trying to make history, and may the best man win.”

I’m not sure which history Wilder is speaking of or how much history he in fact knows. Is it the history embodied in the legendary fight between Jeffries and Corbett? Apparently not, as Wilder’s “ultimate goal in boxing is to be the undisputed. The last undisputed champion was Lennox Lewis. That was 1999, and I’m looking forward to putting my name in the history books.”

“I can really fight,” said Szpilka, the former soccer hooligan, to those who might have had some doubt. “I’m ready. I’m excited that I can reign as champion. My head is ready. I train hard, champ, and good luck, because I’m going to kick your ass.”

Grizzled veterans of teleconference calls perked up their ears. There’s nothing like trash talk to raise the dead. And for those whose eyelids were just starting to flutter, promoter Lou DiBella said of Szpilka, “He won’t stink out the joint. He’ll make a good fight.”

Wilder is less inclined than DiBella to talk like a character in a dime-store novel, but he more or less agrees with the promoter, at least in principle.

“Don’t get too overwhelmed by the opportunity, Szpilka,” said Wilder. “You still have to do something with it. Once I knock Szpilka out, I want all the Polish fans to come on the ‘Bronze Bomber’ train as I bring the heavyweight division back to the top. I don’t care who it is. It doesn’t matter who is in the ring with me. I love a fighter who’s not scared because it gives me the motive to knock him out. I don’t play around because I mean business. I’m looking for a grand show. It’s going to be a great performance to kick off 2016. This is going to be a huge year for me. I wish Szpilka luck. He’s going to need it because I’m knocking Szpilka out. I know he’s a southpaw and he tends to give up when things get tough in the ring, going off the fight he had with Bryant Jennings. He doesn’t have heart when it gets tough.”

Szpilka could care less about the Bronze Bomber train. His motive may be loco, but “The Pin” intends to derail the Deontay Wilder Limited.

“I hope that you hear loud and clear,” he told the champ, “I can win this fight. My mind is ready, my body is ready. You’re done January 16. I have everything that a good boxer needs. I’m very confident and I know that this is my time. I have respect for him, but he’s never fought somebody like me. Everybody he fought but Bermane Stiverne was a bum. Only three people have actually tried to fight him. Everybody else had already lost before they got into the ring. Wilder has a very open style. I will try to shorten the distance, get close, hit him with combinations, we will see what happens. I wanted this fight. I will be there to beat him, take risks. This is my time. The heavyweight titles are wide open. There’s new blood for boxing.”

The new blood has to be that of Tyson Fury. He and Szpilka fought when they were amateurs. When “The Pin” saw Fury defeat Klitschko he thought, “Oh my god, yes, this is my time. Everybody now can win titles.”

Wilder also watched that fight, or at least some portion of the fight.

“I definitely saw the parts of the fight while I was awake,” he said. “That’s the exciting part about boxing. You just never know what’s going to happen.”

The “historic” heavyweight championship doubleheader will be televised live on Showtime on Saturday, June 16, 2016, starting at 9 PM ET/6 PM PT.

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  1. bikermike 07:15pm, 01/10/2016

    ...let them do the ‘gorgeous george/cassius clay…modern day trash talk..but get these guys in the ring…so we can see if they belong….or just have a good PR firm working for them

  2. bikermike 07:12pm, 01/10/2016

    ...and btw…

    that clean punch…..landed by the ‘groom to be’.....
    He really love his fiance…..AND his fish

  3. BIKERMIKE 07:02pm, 01/10/2016

    can we please see the guys ...trying to enter the top ten…and the top ten ..trying to keep them down….

    Tyson furry is no skilled boxer…and his ‘win’ over Klitschko ....was…hardly the Jack Dempsey over Jess Willard….of days of old….or…Willard vs ‘Jack’ Johnson

    fresh blood…..and not re cycled….?? name fighters

  4. bikermike 06:52pm, 01/10/2016

    as a lad….who lied about my age to get into the bar…and drink draft ...for two bits a beer..

    I saw the difference between brawling ....and clean punching…
    I also learned ..that to do ‘the deed’ punched with your ass.

    A nice guy…..about five years my senior….was about to marry a nice lady…next Tuesday….
    ...some drunk ..with no class…held forth about a sexual conquest with this girl and her pet fish…..some years back…

    I never saw such a quick ...and powerful punch…
    The ‘groom ’ to be….took out most of ‘drunk’s ’ lower teeth….with one punch…a left….and the drunk hit the floor…..before ‘groom’s ’ chair….

    Drunk’s friends made sure drunk didn’t drown in his blood…and ‘groom’s’ friends bought a round for the house.while exits were made

    you punch with your ass !!

  5. bikermike 06:36pm, 01/10/2016

    now that the Klitschko lads are not this….
    ...and the guys like tyson furry….are         on the top…

    Can we now see the young lions ..with skill….from Europe…South America…..USA…get rid of clowns like tyson fury…..and make Heavyweight Boxing an athletic endeavor,,,...and not a circus….make it like Ali…vs Foreman…..Spinks vs Holmes…Tyson vs Douglas…

  6. bikermike 06:30pm, 01/10/2016

    used to be in the late sixties..early seventies….lots of married women would take that motorbike ride…with no panties…both ways…one hundred miles of…..FRESH AIR

  7. bikermike 06:24pm, 01/10/2016

    Had some health issues….but am determined to make the Moose Jaw swap meet…come march..2016

    ride by myself….but plan to tip the oldest waitress some one hundred bucks…ordering two beers at a time…over the afternoon…..and will smoke in the bar….!!

    Might be my last ride…but ...I plan to get laid…..

    Me and my iron lung leave from regina…‘bout 1030 AM….and may stay
    overnight…if there is a horny chck over forty…with no panties…....or?????
    gotta come back before three PM…to get a decent hooker in Regina

    Btw….Heavy weight division is wide open….this dum fuk . Tyson furry…will be addressed by the first trained and skilled fighter over two hundred pounds…...fury is living proof that anal sex can be dangerours

  8. Eric 06:42pm, 12/30/2015

    Szpilka? That name is right up there with Mr. Mxyzptlk.

  9. Koolz 04:01pm, 12/30/2015

    I would love to see Szpilka pull this Off!!  He will have to get around the long jab of Wilder and get in there with angles and uppercuts.  Try and tie Wilder up on the inside when he goes to set.
    I think it’s in favor of Wilder to win but an Upset would be Grand News!


  10. oldschool 02:37pm, 12/30/2015

    I just call them belt holders rather than champions. I hate to see the word CHAMPION cheapened as it is today.

  11. peter 07:18am, 12/30/2015

    @ Mike Casey—I’m already beefed up—but it’s not quality beef.

  12. marvin moskowitz 07:09am, 12/30/2015

    nothing new here. been the same since the Larry Holmes era.. Blame the IBF, WBA, WBC etc.. they are nothing more then organized crime extortion rings ..

  13. Mike Casey 06:35am, 12/30/2015

    Back in the gym, Peter, and beef yourself up - you’ve never had a better chance!

  14. Mike Casey 06:19am, 12/30/2015

    “Oh my god, yes, this is my time. Everybody now can win titles.” He’s sure right about that.

  15. peter 05:55am, 12/30/2015

    Szpilka is going to be tasting Wilder’s right hand all night—all three rounds.

  16. Clarence George 05:12am, 12/30/2015

    While I expect Wilder to win, I wouldn’t be dumbfounded (or displeased) by an upset, as Szpilka is of a somewhat higher caliber than most of Wilder’s previous opponents.

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