Everybody heard that “Pin” drop.
Striking the first blow in 2016 for Knockout of the Year, Deontay Wilder ravaged Artur Szpilka with a wrecking-ball right hand in Round 9 to successfully defend his heavyweight title for the third time Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
“It was a devastating right hand,” Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) said from his locker room after the fight. “I knew from the time it landed that it was over. I broke my right hand back when I gained the title against Bermane Stiverne [in January 2015], and it had never been the same after that—until now. It’s back.”
A raucous, Polish-heavy crowd lustily cheered on “Szpila The Pin” as he attempted to become the first man from his country to win a heavyweight championship, but Wilder’s fists prevented history from being made.
Szpilka (20-2, 15 KOs) proved himself to be an underdog with bite, however.
After a tentative start to the fight where both men loaded up on their punches, throwing wildly and landing little, Wilder found his range in Round 4 and began using his eight-inch reach advantage to a punishing degree, pumping his jab right into Szpilka’s face and then rocking him with crushing right hands.
After the fourth round, trainer Ronnie Shields, told Szpilka that he needed to start backing Wilder up, and the Polish southpaw heeded his coach's words, pressing the action more from there on out and finding some success by coming forward, doubling his jab and then shooting hard left hands.
Szpilka landed left and right hooks to the body intermittently and tagged Wilder with a flurry of punches at the end of Round 7, but it was the champ who scored with the cleaner, crisper shots throughout the night, firing at a perpetually moving target.
“He was very mobile,” Wilder said. “He was trying to be a little slick, doing his job of moving, so it took a little bit longer than I expected to adjust to him. But no fighter can withstand my right hand for a long period of time. It just took the right moment.”
That moment came in Round 9, when Szpilka attempted to blast "The Bronze Bomber” with a big left hand. Wilder countered with an even bigger right hand as the southpaw stepped forward, walking straight into a blow square on his jaw. Szpilka’s body immediately went slack as he crumpled to the canvas, arms outstretched over his head in a grim, glassy-eyed pose.
“When you get hit solid with this right hand, it’s bad news,” Wilder says. “I have something that can end a person’s career.”
Szpilka was carried out of the ring on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure, but Shields indicated afterward that his fighter was OK.
“He was conscious. He was talking. He was good,” he said.
Amid all the action at the end of the bout, recently crowned heavyweight champ Tyson Fury, who was watching the fight ringside, bounded into the fray and jawed with Wilder, who branded Fury a phony and a grandstander as he traded heated barbs with the bear-sized Brit.
“I just wasn’t in a playing mood,” Wilder said of Fury’s antics. “We’ve got a man going to the hospital, nothing to play around with, and he’s trying to promote a fight that’s not even in reach yet. He doesn’t even know if he’s going to win his next fight [an unscheduled rematch with Wladimir Klitschko].
“But I’m so ready [to fight Fury],” he added. “It’s not even funny. I’m tired of talking, tired of playing around with Tyson Fury. I’m ready to get that fight on. The heavyweight division is exciting again.”
Charles Martin defeats Vyacheslav Glazkov to win heavyweight title
In the co-main event, Charles Martin became just the sixth southpaw to win a heavyweight title after Vyacheslav Glazkov was unable to continue after getting injured in Round 3.
Glazkov hit the canvas early in the round, but the fall was ruled a slip, not a knockdown. Nevertheless, he seemed to hurt himself during the tumble.
Still, Glazkov managed to get back on his feet and continue in a round in which Martin was coming alive, pressing the action and scoring behind his jab.
But with 90 seconds left in the round, Glazkov’s right knee appeared to give out without him getting hit, and he fell to the canvas once again. This time, though, Glazkov was unable to find his legs, leading referee Earl Brown to stop the bout, resulting in a TKO win for Martin.
Afterward, the ringside physician speculated that Glazkov (21-1-1, 13 KOs) tore his ACL.
In the televised post-fight interview, Martin (23-0-1, 21 KOs) seemed to suggest that the injury may have been caused in part by him landing a punch on Glazkov. He clarified himself during the press conference following the fight, however.
“I did not take credit for an ACL tear. I knew I didn’t hit him,” Martin said. “I was confused. I was like, ‘What just happened?’”
Martin seemed confident, however, that had the fight gone on, Glazkov would have gone down.
“He didn’t have a punch,” he said. “He was going to my body and stuff like that. He just didn’t have enough power. I was going to catch up with him eventually.”
- Deontay Wilder
- Artur Szpilka